"Ford, Tuilagi and Marchant" - Ben Cohen Sees No Place for Owen Farrell in England Starting XV - Ruck

“Ford, Tuilagi and Marchant” – Ben Cohen Sees No Place for Owen Farrell in England Starting XV

2003 Rugby World Cup winner Ben Cohen believes that England’s best options across the midfield are without Owen Farrell. The England captain is serving a four match ban for a high tackle against Wales in the Summer, and Cohen believes that he may struggle to re-claim his place in the starting XV.

Speaking to SafeBettingSites.com the former winger identified the best England midfield to be George Ford at fly-half, with his Sale teammate Manu Tuilagi at inside centre, and Joe Marchant at outside centre. The trio all shone in last weekend’s 27-10 victory over Argentina, with Ford taking the spotlight as he slotted each and every one of England’s points from the boot.

Cohen thinks that given the trio’s current form, a returning Owen Farrell will struggle to force his way back into the starting line-up. Farrell will miss this Sunday’s Pool D match against Japan, yet will be eligible for selection when England take on Chile on Saturday September 23rd.

“When Tuilagi plays like he does on the weekend, he is an absolute machine and you want him in your team, at whatever cost. When he peaks like that, he starts every day of the week. I actually liked the combination with Joe Marchant and George Ford on either side of him.

“I did like Henry Slade there initially but it’s a shame he didn’t make it as part of the squad. I don’t think Owen Farrell can be played at 12, I’m not sure he has a place in the team. I don’t mean that in a horrible way, I think there is a place for him in the squad for sure. Ford has just stepped up so much in his absence and delivered a masterclass against Argentina.

“I’d like to see the partnership between Tuilagi and Marchant flourish as they have a lot of attributes which perfectly dovetail with one another. I would like to keep the backline as it is, especially when there have been so many choices in the 10-12 axis over the years, stretching back to Eddie Jones.”

Despite England being favourites in Sunday’s match against Japan, Cohen views the Brave Blossoms as a potential ‘banana skin’ that Steve Borthwick’s side could slip up on. Japan have made a habit of providing Rugby World Cup upsets, with the 2015 win over South Africa, and the 2019 victories over Ireland and Scotland showing plenty of reasons to not take the men from the Far East lightly.

Cohen also identified Samoa as an obstacle that could trip England up, on their way through to the quarter-finals. The Pacific Islanders start their Rugby World Cup campaign against Chile tomorrow, and will be looking to make a statement against the competition’s newcomers.

“What I will say is that they are both potential banana skins, both Japan and Samoa. You cannot write off either of those teams, we nearly got knocked out of the 2003 World Cup by Samoa before we went on to win it.”

“Japan are not the team they were, nowhere near the team that beat South Africa in 2015. They’re still a potential banana skin and could knock your confidence. They are lesser teams, but I’ve seen a gap that has been closed over the past 20 years against some of these teams.

“These so-called minnows are coming in and hurting opposition teams, scoring tries and unlocking defences. That is really encouraging to see for neutrals, to keep the buzz going through these games.”


One area of England’s game that has come under recent scrutiny, is their instance to ‘over-celebrate’ when they are awarded a penalty. The Saracens duo of Maro Itoje and Ben Earl are amongst the main instigators, and Cohen believes Earl celebrates a turnover as if he’s just lifted the Web Ellis trophy.

“Ben Earl celebrates winning a penalty like he has won the World Cup, now there is nothing wrong with passion and fire in your belly, but it’s just a penalty! It’s just a penalty, to me that just breeds relief and that isn’t the confidence that we want to portray.”

“That isn’t reinforcing your mindset of doing your next job, win the game, then the next game and we are here to do a job. That suggests there isn’t a lot of confidence and that the relief is so overwhelming and that England have been let off the hook. Our England team was built on a tap on the back and the knowledge that there was more hard work to be done.”

Expected England line-up against Japan:

Here are RUCK’s predictions for the England squad to face Japan, in Pool D of the Rugby World Cup this Sunday.


15. Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers)

14. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby)

11. Elliot Daly (Saracens)



13. Joe Marchant (Stade Francais)

12. Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks)