Rugby World Cup 2019: Ford returns for England semi-final clash with New Zealand

By Sports Desk October 24, 2019

George Ford has returned to England's starting line-up for the blockbuster Rugby World Cup semi-final showdown with New Zealand on Saturday.

Coach Eddie Jones went with Owen Farrell at fly-half for the last-eight win against Australia but has brought Ford back to face the All Blacks in Yokohama. It means captain Farrell will again be shifted to outside centre at the expense of Henry Slade.

Billy Vunipola will win his 50th Test cap, while fellow back-row forward Mark Wilson is named in the 23 for just the second time in the tournament. He takes Lewis Ludlam's spot among the replacements.

"Preparation has been good this week after a solid win against Australia," said Jones. "When you get to this stage of the World Cup it is all about focusing on being in the moment and getting yourself physically right.

"The squad has approached the game well, with real maturity. It has helped having players here who have been on the [British and Irish] Lions tour and played against New Zealand. They have been involved in some of the biggest games in world rugby so this semi-final won't faze them.

"New Zealand are a great team, they have an impressive winning record since the last World Cup. Like any good team, you have got to take away time and space from them; you have to find areas you can pressure them. We believe we have identified a number of areas where we can do that."

Jones added: "It is a great achievement for Billy to reach 50 Test matches for England and something that is very special for the team. I know his family will be very proud of him and even more so to play the game alongside his brother Mako."

Like Jones, New Zealand coach Steve Hansen also made just one change to his starting XV, with Scott Barrett replacing Sam Cane.

 

England: Elliot Daly, Anthony Watson, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell, Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Joe Marler, Dan Cole, George Kruis, Mark Wilson, Willi Heinz, Henry Slade, Jonathan Joseph.

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