England pick Lewis Ludlam at number eight for Japan clash

Lewis Ludlam for England at 2023 Rugby World Cup. Credit: Alamy
Lewis Ludlam for England at 2023 Rugby World Cup. Credit: Alamy

England have named Lewis Ludlam in the number eight jersey for their second pool game of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, against Japan at Stade de Nice on Sunday.

Ludlam’s inclusion in the starting team means that Ben Earl shifts to the openside flanker position to cover for the absence of the suspended Tom Curry.

The duo are joined by captain Courtney Lawes in the back-row, with Maro Itoje and Ollie Chessum continuing in the second-row for the Pool D meeting.

Other changes at prop

England’s two other changes to the XV that beat Argentina 27-10 come at prop where Joe Marler and Kyle Sinckler displace Ellis Genge and Dan Cole.

Steve Borthwick has kept faith with the same backline from their opening win as Alex Mitchell and George Ford get the nod in the half-back positions.

Outside of them remains the midfield combination of Manu Tuilagi and Joe Marchant with Elliot Daly, Jonny May and Freddie Steward the back three.

Amongst the replacements, England men’s most capped player, scrum-half Ben Youngs, returns to the squad to play his 15th Rugby World Cup match.

He is joined on the bench by number eight Billy Vunipola, who is free to play having served a two-match suspension, and hooker Theo Dan, props duo Genge and Will Stuart, second-row/flanker George Martin, fly-half Marcus Smith and centre Ollie Lawrence.

“It was both pleasing and important that we were able to start our World Cup campaign with a good win against Argentina last Saturday,” said Borthwick.

“It was incredible to see so many of our supporters in the stadium in Marseille. Their support means a great deal to the team. We hope that we were able to provide the supporters both here in France and at home with some great memories, and we are setting out to do the same again this Sunday in Nice.

“After another good week’s preparation in Le Touquet, we are looking forward to the challenge of playing a Japan side that will be full of confidence following their comprehensive win over Chile in their opening fixture of the competition.”

The team

England: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Jonny May, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Lewis Ludlam, 7 Ben Earl, 6 Courtney Lawes (c), 5 Ollie Chessum, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Will Stuart, 19 George Martin, 20 Billy Vunipola, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Marcus Smith, 23 Ollie Lawrence

Date: Sunday, September 17
Venue: Stade de Nice, Nice
Kick-off: 21:00 local (20:00 BST, 19:00 GMT)
Referee: Nika Amashukeli (GRU)
Assistant Referees: Nic Berry (RA), Andrea Piardi (FIR)
TMO: Joy Neville (IRFU)

READ MORE: Rugby World Cup team tracker: All the line-ups for the next blockbuster weekend of action

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