"Curry on the bench" - Billy Vunipola and Owen Farrell set to start against Samoa - Ruck

“Curry on the bench” – Billy Vunipola and Owen Farrell set to start against Samoa

England’s final stop in the Rugby World Cup pool stages is Samoa, with Steve Borthwick’s men set to take on the Pacific Islanders in just under a fortnight’s time.

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The men in white receive a well earned rest this weekend, and will be back to take on Manu Samoa on Saturday October 7th in Lille.

England ran out a resounding 71-0 win over Chile last Saturday, in what stands as their third highest margin of victory in Rugby World Cup history. Just the 101-10 landslide over Tonga in ’99, and the 111-13 demolition of Uruguay in 2003 racked up bigger winning deficits. Henry Arundell was England’s star performer, as the Racing 92 winger crossed over for five tries against Los Condores.

Arundell equalised the all-time England record for tries in a Rugby World Cup match, with the accolade now shared between himself and Josh Lewsey. Despite Arundell’s handful of scores, the pick of the bunch came from Marcus Smith’s phenomenal solo kick chase. Owen Farrell ended the eleven-try onslaught one point adrift of Jonny Wilkinson’s all-time England points scoring tally of 1,179, and looks certain to surpass the legendary halfback later in the tournament.

We will have to bide our time until Borthwick announces the England squad to face Samoa, so we have taken it upon us to predict the match-day 23. Here is RUCK’s picks for the England team that should line up against the Pacific Islanders, to complete the clean sweep of wins in Pool D.


15. Marcus Smith (Harlequins)

14. Henry Arundell (Racing 92)

11. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby)

Marcus Smith and Henry Arundell each had scintillating performances against Chile, and should retain their starting jerseys for the clash against Samoa. Starting with Smith, the newly-adopted fullback has forced his way into the England starting XV, leaving George Ford and Owen Farrell to do battle over the fly-half jersey. In a style akin to the All Blacks’ Beauden Barrett, Smith has transitioned effortlessly from fly-half to fullback, and scored two tries against Chile.

After hitting top gear for a record try-scoring performance whilst on his Rugby World Cup debut, Borthwick can hardly overlook the talents of Henry Arundell in a fortnight’s time. The former London Irish flyer ran out a clinic in opportunity taking, for his handful of tries against Chile. We have opted to recall Gloucester winger Jonny May to the starting XV over Max Malins. The Bristol Bears man did not have the starring role he would have liked against Chile, with proven try-machine May preferred against the tougher Samoan opposition.


13. Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby)

12. Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks)

It’s time to bring back the heavy artillery in the centres. Samoa have always been bruising ball carriers, but they have since further reinforced their ranks with the likes of former Australia and New Zealand internationals. The likes of Rugby World Cup winning All Blacks prop Charlie Faumuina and former Wallabies stalwart Christian Leali’ifano are included, along with former Wasps playmaker Lima Sopoaga also joining the fray.

Lawrence ran out for a strong performance against Chile, and will look to build on this momentum with another strong outing against Samoa. Lawrence has so far been behind Tuilagi and Marchant in the midfield pecking order, and would benefit from an extended run in the side before the knock-out stages. Lawrence ran out for the full eighty in the Chile match, with the versatile Marchant on the bench for a 10 minute cameo out wide to replace Max Malins. Tuilagi needs another big run-out before the quarter-finals, and an enjoyable afternoon against his birthplace of Samoa could well see him hit top form.