Rugby World Cup: England vs Samoa lineups – Ford and Farrell to start together for first time this tournament

Group-leaders England face Samoa at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lyon this weekend, with a bruising, physical and tense encounter on the cards.

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England need just a losing bonus point to ensure they finish top of the group, while Samoa are hunting third-place in the group and automatic qualification for Rugby World Cup 2027.

England vs Samoa lineups and team news

Both teams have picked full strengths sides for this huge clash in north-east France, promising an entertaining and fascinating fixture.


Steve Borthwick has elected to re-ignite the Ford-Farrell partnership that took England to the Rugby World Cup Final in 2019 and hasn’t been seen since. This has pushed Manu Tuilagi to outside centre and his former centre partner, Joe Marchant, to the right wing, dropping Elliot Daly from the squad.

The other big change is the return of Tom Curry at openside flanker after serving his two-match ban for the tackle that saw him sent off in less than 5 minutes of their round one game versus Argentina. He takes the place of Lewis Ludlam who falls out of the squad.

  1. Ellis Genge
  2. Jamie George
  3. Dan Cole
  4. Maro Itoje
  5. Ollie Chessum
  6. Courtney Lawes
  7. Tom Curry
  8. Ben Earl
  9. Alex Mitchell
  10. George Ford
  11. Jonny May
  12. Owen Farrell
  13. Manu Tuilagi
  14. Joe Marchant
  15. Freddie Steward

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


Samoa have welcomed the return of fly-half Lima Sopoaga to the starting lineup, not seen through injury since round one. 

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Elsewhere, Nena Fomai comes onto the left wing for the banned Ben Lam, while Samuel Slade and Brian Alainu’u’ese come into the second row for Chris Vui and Taleni Seu and Danny Toala starts at inside centre over Alai D’Angelo Leuila.

  1. Jordan Lay
  2. Sama Malolo
  3. Michael Alaalatoa
  4. Samuel Slade
  5. Brian Alainu’u’ese
  6. Theo McFarland
  7. Fitz Lee
  8. Steven Luatua
  9. Jonathan Taumateine
  10. Lima Sopoaga
  11. Nena Fomai
  12. Danny Toala
  13. Tumua Manu
  14. Nigel Ah Wong
  15. Duncan Paia’aua

16. Seilala Lam, 17. James Lay, 18. Paul Alo-Emile, 19. So’otala Fa’aso’o, 20. Alamanda Motuga, 21. Melani Matavao, 22. Christian Lealifano, 23. Miracle Fai’ilagi

Ford-Farrell-Smith combination the way forward for England?

It is how they finished versus Chile the other week, with Farrell back from suspension and Ford starring at fly half and Smith carving up at fullback in his absence, all three traditional fly-halfs played together at the same time.

It looked fluent and creative but will it work against a stronger team is the question. It may be the case that Smith will take the place of Ford and play fly-half, however, it is much more likely that, as was the case versus Chile, he will take the place of either Steward at fullback, or one of the wingers, pushing Steward to the wing.

If this combination works and continues to do so further into the knockout-stages, it will be regarded as a masterstroke by Borthwick, as no one but him could have possibly foreseen this as a possibility, however, it could just as easily blow up in his face, it remains to be seen.

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