PARIS, France — Marcus Smith will start at fullback for England in the bronze medal match against Argentina on Friday while Sam Underhill reunites with Tom Curry in the back-row.
Smith missed England’s semifinal against South Africa as he underwent the return to play protocols after a bruising quarterfinal versus Fiji. Curry gets the nod at blindside flanker in what will be his 50th cap alongside Underhill, who was a late injury replacement for Jack Willis and gets his first World Cup action at openside flanker.
Elsewhere England men’s most-capped player of all time Ben Youngs starts at scrum-half in what is likely his last Test match for England alongside captain Owen Farrell. Theo Dan starts at hooker alongside Bevan Rodd at loose-head prop, while Will Stuart is at tight-head prop.
In the backs Henry Arundell — who scored five tries against Chile — is on the wing with Freddie Steward on the other flank, with Smith anchoring the team at fullback.
Jamie George, Bevan Rodd, Dan Cole, David Ribbans, Lewis Ludlam, Danny Care, George Ford (vice-captain), and Ollie Lawrence make up the bench.
“After the disappointment of last weekend’s game against South Africa, it is important that this Friday we once again play with the determination and dedication that so nearly earned the team the result we wanted,” Steve Borthwick said.
“The bronze final gives us a great opportunity to finish the tournament on a positive note, continue to build for the future, and to give our supporters one last chance to get behind the squad out here in Paris. The players are looking forward to the challenge against what will be a strong Argentina side.
“Our support from the many England fans, both at home and from those who have travelled to France to watch the team play, has been nothing short of fantastic. We are incredibly grateful to have your backing and on behalf of the entire England team I would like to thank you all once again”.
Marcus Smith, Freddie Steward, Joe Marchant, Manu Tuilagi, Henry Arundell, Owen Farrell (captain), Ben Youngs; Ellis Genge, Theo Dan, Will Stuart, Maro Itoje, Ollie Chessum, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Ben Earl.
Replacements: Jamie George, Bevan Rodd, Dan Cole, David Ribbans, Lewis Ludlam, Danny Care, George Ford, Ollie Lawrence.