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Rugby World Cup: England name Marcus Smith at full-back with George Ford on bench for Fiji quarter-final

Steve Borthwick makes two changes for Sunday's quarter-final in Marseille; Marcus Smith back at full-back, with Elliot Daly also returning and Alex Mitchell again at scrum-half; quarter-final begins at 4pm on Sunday - follow live blog on and Sky Sports app

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Owen Farrell has been preferred to George Ford at fly-half for England's quarter-final against Fiji, with Marcus Smith starting at full-back

Owen Farrell will play at fly-half and Marcus Smith at full-back with George Ford left on the bench as Steve Borthwick confirmed England's line-up for Sunday's Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Fiji.

As reported on Thursday, Ford has been dropped for the clash in Marseille despite his starring role in France so far, with captain Farrell given the vote of confidence to play at No 10.

Smith is named at full-back again - as was the case for the first time in his career for the pool match against Chile - with Freddie Steward dropped completely.

There are two changes in total from the side that narrowly beat Samoa last Saturday, with Elliot Daly also returning on the left wing.

Alex Mitchell continues at scrum-half.

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Eleanor Roper breaks down Steve Borthwick's squad selection

Manu Tuilagi teams up with Joe Marchant in the centres, with Jonny May on the right and Daly on the left.

"You have a great blend there," Borthwick said. "The power, carry and defensive strength that Manu brings and then the incredible outside break and connection with the outside backs in defence that Joe brings.

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"The starting back three is also right for us this week. Marcus has really embraced the opportunity and to have players able to play at the highest level in multiple positions is a real strength."

Farrell added on Smith's selection at full-back: "I've always been impressed with Marcus.

"How much he wants the ball and wants to make a difference, and from what I've seen, the bigger the game the more he wants it.

"He's played in big games he's won the Premiership - and what he showed against Chile and when coming on in the other games is that he wants to make an impact."

Elsewhere, Borthwick has again included veteran prop Dan Cole in the starting team ahead of Kyle Sinckler. Ellis Genge and Jamie George complete the front row.

"Everyone knows just what an unpredictably dangerous opposition Fiji can be," Borthwick added.

"However, we have shown in the group stages how we can win games and we will be calling on that experience and determination to ensure we carry on our journey."

England have won seven of their eight prior meetings with Fiji, with their only defeat coming in a World Cup warm-up match at Twickenham in August.

"That feels a long time ago now," Farrell added. "Obviously we've reviewed and it was helpful to have played them but we feel like we've moved on now."

The match kicks off at 4pm on Sunday.

England: 15 Marcus Smith, 14 Jonny May, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 Owen Farrell (c), 9 Alex Mitchell, 1 Ellis Genge, 2 Jamie George, 3 Dan Cole, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Ollie Chessum, 6 Courtney Lawes, 7 Tom Curry, 8 Ben Earl.

Replacements: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 George Martin, 20 Billy Vunipola, 21 Danny Care, 22 George Ford, 23 Ollie Lawrence.

Explaining and analysing Borthwick's selection decisions

Sky Sports News' Eleanor Roper:

On Smith at full-back

"Marcus Smith will bring so much excitement, for a start. He's been used for a while now as a late replacement at 15, we've seen him come on a few times for Freddie Steward, and he just brings that pace, that electricity, that unpredictability. It's what everyone loves to watch. It's a brilliant attacking game.

"We've seen him do it for years at Harlequins in his usual position of fly-half, but he has talked about how in the summer in the England camp Kevin Sinfield had come up with the suggestion of him trying and having a go at full-back, and it's gone well so far.

"They have been looking at a way to get Marcus Smith into this team. George Ford, Owen Farrell, are another two world-class fly-halves. So it's difficult.

"Borthwick has so much choice on that position so this is their way of getting Smith into the team."

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A look at all the action from Saturday in the Rugby World Cup, with England up against Samoa and Ireland facing Scotland

On Farrell at 10 instead of Ford

"I don't think it's a surprise. Having listened to Borthwick, and if you listen to any of his press conferences over the last few weeks, he is fully behind Owen Farrell. He is his England captain and he could not be more supportive of Owen.

"By making him captain, as he did before this World Cup, we always knew that he would be first choice. Even when Ford was starting at 10, we saw Farrell kicking.

"One of the conversations heading into this week was what that centre partnership would look like against Fiji.

"We know Fiji are an incredibly powerful side, so while we might have before seen Ford at 10 and Farrell at 12, I think they need more power which is why they have gone for Manu Tuilagi and Joe Marchant.

"They need more force, they need more power, in the centre rather than a secondary playmaker."

Will 'magician' Smith thrive at full-back without Ford?

Owen Farrell and Marcus Smith
Image: Farrell and Smith have been handed major roles in Borthwick's side to face Fiji

Speaking on Thursday after reports of Borthwick's likely bold selection for the crucial quarter-final first emerged, England World Cup-winner Matt Dawson told Sky Sports News: "There is no question that when Marcus Smith has been on the field something's happening.

"England look a very different side, particularly coming on at full-back with a little bit more space and a different type of responsibility, he can light up the England team.

"My question is how are they going to get the ball to him? Yes, from broken-field play, I'm not sure Fiji are going to kick as much as maybe an Ireland or a New Zealand, they are going to want to attack.

"So it's probably going to be down to England to give him the ball.

England's route to the quarter finals

Pool matches
October 7 England 18-17 Samoa
September 23 England 71-0 Chile
September 17 England 34-12 Japan
September 9 England 27-10 Argentina

"So you need your distributors to give him the ball and George Ford is by far the best distributor. So, I'm torn a little bit.

"If they are going to go with Farrell, who can still sort of play that game but hasn't got it like George Ford, how are we going to get this magician into the game other than just through turnover ball because he can create havoc with the opposition. He can threaten Fiji and bring a different dimension to England."

England have won seven of their games against Fiji, the only defeat coming in their last meeting at Twickenham in August.

The winner of England vs Fiji will face either France or South Africa in the semi-finals, in Paris, on Saturday October 21.

The World Cup final is on Saturday October 28 at 8pm.

Radradra named on wing for Fiji | Tuisue in second-row

Fiji have returned Semi Radradra to the left wing among three backline switches, along with a trio of changes in the forwards.

Radradra started Fiji's first game of the tournament against Wales at centre but was switched to the wing for the 22-15 victory over Australia in Saint-Etienne, a result which proved the catalyst for the islanders' place in the last eight.

Image: Semi Radradra will start for Fiji

Ilaisa Droasese returns at full-back after last week's defeat by Portugal in their last pool match, where Fiji still collected the point they needed to advance, while Vinaya Habosi switches to the right wing in place of Selestino Ravutaumada.

Among the forwards, Tevita Ikanivere will earn his first World Cup start after playing Fiji's first four pool games off the bench, replacing Sam Matavesi at hooker, while Gloucester's Albert Tuisue is in at lock and Lekima Tagitagivalu is chosen as openside flanker.

It means there are 10 starters from the Fiji side that beat England in the warm-up international at Twickenham in August.

Matavesi is on the bench after earlier this week travelling back to England, where he lives and plays in the Premiership, after the death of his father, Sireli.

It was the second family bereavement to hit the Fijians during the tournament after the death of Josua Tuisova's seven year old son Tito following a long illness. Tuisova missed his son's funeral in order to stay in France.

Fiji: 15 Ilaisa Droasese, 14 Vinaya Habosi, 13 Waisea Nayacalevu (c), 12 Josua Tuisova, 11 Semi Radradra, 10 Vilimoni Botitu, 9 Frank Lomani; 1 Eroni Mawi, 2 Tevita Ikanivere, 3 Luke Tagi, 4 Isoa Nasilasila, 5 Albert Tuisue, 6 Lekima Tagitagivalu, 7 Levani Botia, 8 Viliame Mata.

Replacements: 16 Sam Matavesi, 17 Peni Ravai, 18 Mesake Doge, 19 Meli Derenalagi, 20 Vilive Miramira, 21 Simione Kuruvoli, 22 Iosefo Masi, 23 Sireli Maqala.

Follow England's Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Fiji across Sky Sports' digital platforms from 3pm Sunday.

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