Ben Youngs will bring down the curtain on his England career in Friday’s World Cup bronze final against Argentina at Stade de France.
The nation’s most-capped men’s player with 126 Test appearances makes his first start of the tournament but also his final Red Rose outing, having launched his international odyssey against Scotland 13 years ago.
Steve Borthwick has saluted a scrum-half master who has been first choice for most of his career until slipping down the pecking order at this World Cup due to the emergence of Alex Mitchell.
“Ben has been a tremendous player for English rugby for such a long time. He’s a brilliant player and a fantastic team man,” Borthwick said.
“He’s our record cap holder, a player who has seen a lot in four World Cups and who has played an important role within this squad helping the team progress, particularly Alex Mitchell.”
Tom Curry locks horns with 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.
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 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.”