Owen Farrell relieved spell in stands is over as England captain returns to face Chile after suspension

Owen Farrell relieved spell in stands is over as England captain returns to face Chile after suspension

Owen Farrell will breathe a sigh of relief at moving from the stands to the pitch when England take on Chile in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup clash in Lille.

England captain Farrell will make his first appearance in France after completing his four-match ban for a high-tackle red card.

The Saracens playmaker will start at fly-half in a much-changed England line-up to take on the South Americans in the third Pool D encounter.

Farrell would most likely not have played in this match had he featured in the wins over Argentina and Japan.

The 31-year-old will hardly have to sing for his supper as squad captain, but will line up alongside a host of stars trying to prove their first XV point.

Farrell does have a few points to make of his own however, after that suspension for the no-arms tackle on Wales’ Taine Basham.

The Lions star will simply want to get rolling into the World Cup action, at England’s third time of asking. And the 107-cap fly-half revealed he puts himself through more of a wringer when watching a match than he does playing.

Asked how he watches matches as opposed to playing, Farrell replied: “I don’t detach myself. I’m knackered by the end, to be honest.

“I was especially knackered after the Argentina match. I feel involved, I feel like I’m out there at times. I feel every emotion that goes with it, sometimes even more than I would if I was playing.

“I wouldn’t describe myself as the best in the stands, no.”

England have hardly been at their best in their two World Cup outings to date, but the Red Rose men have won both. Argentina were dispatched 27-10 despite the red card for Tom Curry, and Japan were dismissed 34-12 in Nice last weekend.

Marcus Smith will make his first start at any level at full-back in Saturday’s Lille clash, where victory will put England on the brink of a quarter-final.

Marcus Smith will start for England at full-back (Getty Images)
Marcus Smith will start for England at full-back (Getty Images)

Harlequins star Smith has seized his new position of full-back with gusto, and will add playmaking ability and counter-attacking verve to England’s backfield set-up.

Henry Arundell and Max Malins will make their first appearances of the tournament on the wings, while Bevan Rodd and Theo Dan will make their first starts up front.

Lewis Ludlam, Jack Willis and Billy Vunipola will form a potent back-row unit to boot, and England should overwhelm Chile, ranked 22 in the world, without issue.

England’s backline will certainly offer a blend of creativity and power, with Farrell expected to knit it all together.

Wing Malins and outside centre Elliot Daly are both expert footballers too, leaving England with a plethora of kicking options – but Steve Borthwick’s side must finally find a way to build fluent, cogent attacks.

“There will be lots of options in that attacking shape, hopefully,” said Farrell. “The boys in this backline are all tremendous talents.

“And with Marcus at full-back, you’ve seen how he’s come on and impacted the game over his last three appearances. He’s come on and had an impact straight away.

“He wants the ball, he wants to make a difference – he wants to get the team on the front foot and I see it being no different on Saturday.

“Everyone knows what a talent Marcus is. Hopefully we can link up, hopefully we can find space together and get each other involved in the game.”