Marcus Smith wins fly-half race for England’s historic Test against Eddie Jones’ Japan

Dylan Coetzee
Marcus Smith during an England training session.

Marcus Smith during an England training session.

Marcus Smith has been named at fly-half for England for their first-ever Test against Eddie Jones’ Brave Blossoms on Japanese soil.

The Harlequin is preferred to Fin Smith who will start from the bench. Joining the 25-year-old in the half-backs is Alex Mitchell, who has been brilliant all season long for Northampton.

In the centres, Henry Slade and Ollie Lawrence link up while full-back George Furbank is joined by Immanuel Feyi-Waboso and Tommy Freeman in an exciting back-three.

First start

Chandler Cunningham-South makes his first start for England on the blindside with Sam Underhill and stalwart number eight Ben Earl completing the loose trio.

George Martin and Maro Itoje make up a bruising second-row partnership as props Dan Cole and Bevan Rodd are named alongside captain Jamie George in the front-row.

Head coach Steve Borthwick opted for a regulation bench with Harry Randall and Tom Roebuck joining the younger of the Smiths as backline options.

For the forwards, hooker Theo Dan and props Joe Marler and Will Stuart are front-row replacements with Charlie Ewels and Tom Curry rounding out the matchday 23.

England team winners and losers as Steve Borthwick backs Marcus Smith against Japan

England will be facing Japan in their first Test under Jones since the former Red Rose boss returned to the helm of the Brave Blossoms. Borthwick, who previously worked under Jones in Japan, expects a battle made even harder by the conditions.

“We’re looking forward to the challenge of playing Japan at their National Stadium,” said Borthwick.

“Conditions in Tokyo mean we’ll need to be accurate, keep our discipline, and maintain a level of intensity in our performance from the first whistle to the last.

“We will need to be at our very best against an opponent who will want to play fast.”

The team

England: 15 George Furbank, 14 Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Lawrence, 11 Tommy Freeman, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Ben Earl, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Chandler Cunningham-South, 5 George Martin, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Jamie George (c), 1 Bevan Rodd
Replacements: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Tom Curry, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Fin Smith, 23 Tom Roebuck

Date: Saturday, June 22
Venue: National Stadium, Tokyo
Kick-off: 06:50 BST (05:50 GMT)
Coverage: RugbyPass TV

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