Tom Curry starts England’s World Cup bronze final against Argentina despite receiving online abuse in response to the allegation that he was the victim of a racist slur against South Africa.
Curry claimed that hooker Bongi Mbonambi called him a “white c***” in Saturday’s 16-15 semi-final defeat at the Stade de France, prompting World Rugby to launch an investigation that is ongoing.
The Sale flanker continues in the back row despite being in the eye of the storm, however, and will win his 50th cap in a rematch of the pool victory over the Pumas.
Owen Farrell leads a team showing eight changes in personnel and two positional switches, one of them Curry’s move to blindside flanker to accommodate Sam Underhill’s first appearance of the World Cup in the number seven jersey.
Marcus Smith is restored at full-back after passing the HIA that forced him to sit out the South Africa showdown and the knock-on effect is that Freddie Steward moves to the right wing.
Farrell is joined at half-back by Ben Youngs, who makes his first start of the World Cup having appeared as a replacement against Argentina and Chile.
Henry Arundell returns for the first time since running in five tries against Chile in the third Pool D match, providing firepower on the left wing, while the centre partnership of Manu Tuilagi and Joe Marchant remains intact.
Head coach Steve Borthwick fields an entirely new front row made up of Ellis Genge, Theo Dan and Will Stuart with tighthead prop Dan Cole poised to make potentially his final England appearance off the bench.
Ollie Chessum returns in the second row but there is no place in the 23 for George Martin, one of the heroes of the defeat by the Springboks.
“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,” 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.”