England not ruling out playing Farrell, Ford and Smith together

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The prospect of playing three out-and-out fly-halves together is something Steve Borthwick will consider says England assistant coach Richard Wigglesworth; Owen Farrell is available for selection again, while George Ford and Marcus Smith are looking for starting spots against Chile

Last Updated: 18/09/23 7:14pm

England prop Joe Marler joked that he took inspiration from Roberto De Zerbi's Brighton for his bizarre headed assist in England's victory over Japan!

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England prop Joe Marler joked that he took inspiration from Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton for his bizarre headed assist in England’s victory over Japan!

England prop Joe Marler joked that he took inspiration from Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton for his bizarre headed assist in England’s victory over Japan!

England assistant coach Richard Wigglesworth isn’t ruling out the prospect of playmakers Owen Farrell, George Ford and Marcus Smith featuring together.

Farrell will be available for England’s pool match against Chile this Saturday after missing their wins over Argentina and Japan through suspension.

The captain ploughed into Taine Basham’s head in England’s warm-up match versus Wales at Twickenham last month, causing the flanker to fail an HIA.

The 31-year-old received a four-game ban from an independent disciplinary panel but could return, leaving head coach Steve Borthwick with the option to have three playmakers on the field in Ford, Farrell and Smith at 10, 12 and 15.

“It’s not unthinkable. If you have absolute runners around them and that is their skill set and their talent, you want to upskill as many guys as possible to be able to make sure they are seeing the picture early and execute,” said Wigglesworth.

“I don’t think it’s unthinkable to have three ball players in a backline, but it would be the balance of what is around them. You have guys like Elliot Daly who can do both – he’s a runner and can spot space and pass. You want your balance to be right, but definitely not unthinkable.”

The best of the action from Sunday's matches at the Rugby World Cup, including England's 34-12 victory over Japan.

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The best of the action from Sunday’s matches at the Rugby World Cup, including England’s 34-12 victory over Japan.

The best of the action from Sunday’s matches at the Rugby World Cup, including England’s 34-12 victory over Japan.

Smith has come on as a replacement in England’s opening two matches at the World Cup but has brought energy to the team during his limited time on the pitch.

The potential of him playing at full-back has impressed Wigglesworth, who revealed discussions first came about earlier this year.

“It was talked about from the coaches quite early in pre-season because you have a squad of 33 and you know things are always going to be tight,” he said.

Marcus Smith has been impressive from the bench according to Richard Wigglesworth

Marcus Smith has been impressive from the bench according to Richard Wigglesworth

“I think it was Kev (Kevin Sinfield) who was on a walk with him at the end of training and said ‘have you ever thought about playing 15?’ And he just jumped at it ‘I would love to give it a go,’ which is his attitude. It’s infectious and wants to play the game. He’s brought great life to the pitch in the two performances so far.

“He’s played there a fair bit and has been really impressive. It’s definitely something you look at more and more because of his attitude to it and how positive he’s been, then how he’s performed on the training field as well.”

Will England play Ford and Farrell together?

Sky Sports' James Cole provides the latest update after England beat Japan at the Rugby World Cup.

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Sky Sports’ James Cole provides the latest update after England beat Japan at the Rugby World Cup.

Sky Sports’ James Cole provides the latest update after England beat Japan at the Rugby World Cup.

With Farrell back, the big talk ahead of this Saturday’s match is whether he will come straight back into fly-half to replace Ford.

Ford was instrumental to England’s win over Argentina as he kicked all 27 points, including three drop goals.

Farrell and Ford have played together in midfield for England on many previous occasions and Wigglesworth thinks they can make it work in this tournament.

Eddie Jones says Australia's fans should get ready for their clash against Wales and admits it was his fault for the Wallabies' loss against Fiji.

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Eddie Jones says Australia’s fans should get ready for their clash against Wales and admits it was his fault for the Wallabies’ loss against Fiji.

Eddie Jones says Australia’s fans should get ready for their clash against Wales and admits it was his fault for the Wallabies’ loss against Fiji.

“It definitely can work because it has worked before for England. They have played a lot of rugby together and no doubt if that’s the way Steve goes with selection, they will make it work,” he said.

“Equally if there is a different 10 or 12 combination, along with the other backs, we will make that work as well.”

On the starting XV as a whole, he added: “I’m sure there will be some changes. The lads have played two big Test matches on the bounce. We have a really good squad here, so we definitely want to make sure we get a lot of players involved and making sure they get to show their quality.

“Great to have the captain back available – spoilt really that he has played so much international rugby at 10 and 12.”

Take a look at all the action from Saturday's action in the Rugby World Cup, with Samoa taking on Chile, Wales facing Portugal and Ireland's head-to-head with Tonga.

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Take a look at all the action from Saturday’s action in the Rugby World Cup, with Samoa taking on Chile, Wales facing Portugal and Ireland’s head-to-head with Tonga.

Take a look at all the action from Saturday’s action in the Rugby World Cup, with Samoa taking on Chile, Wales facing Portugal and Ireland’s head-to-head with Tonga.

‘Boos part and parcel of international sport’

England were booed by their own fans during the early stages of the second-half in their 34-12 win over Japan on Sunday, in response to the sheer volume of their kicking.

Borthwick admits his team can improve their attacking and isn’t concerned about boos from the crowd.

“We are not happy with where we are attack-wise. We are striving to improve. But that is not to do with the kicking game. It’s not separate from it either,” he added.

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“It’s all part of the same stuff. We want to kick the ball brilliantly, so that we can either get it back in a better position, or kick to score. All parts of the games we are working on.

“As far as the booing goes, it’s part and parcel of what you do in international sport. You are in the biggest arenas with the fans who are entitled to do what they feel right. From my point of view, the fans have been exceptional. We will strive to improve and make sure, with the ball, we can be as efficient as we can be.”

Borthwick: Chile will compete hard

Next up for England at the Rugby World Cup is Chile on Saturday

Next up for England at the Rugby World Cup is Chile on Saturday

On paper, England’s two toughest pool matches are out of the way, with Chile to come this Saturday before a week off to prepare for Samoa on October 7.

They are on course to top their group but Borthwick doesn’t want England to get too far ahead of themselves, with all the focus now on Chile.

“They compete really hard at the breakdown. They go for the ball and challenge you in line speed and defence,” he said.

“They want you to make errors and with the ball they attack hard, particularly from 15. They are going to move you around and if you are not right on it, they can cause you problems.”

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