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Owen Farrell to lead out unchanged England team in Rugby World Cup final

England head coach Eddie Jones has opted to name an unchanged side for the Rugby World Cup final.

Jones has kept faith with the double playmaker axis of George Ford and Owen Farrell for Saturday’s showdown with South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama.

Ford will start at fly-half in one of the biggest games in English rugby history

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Ford will start at fly-half in one of the biggest games in English rugby history

In-form fly-half Ford was dropped against Australia two rounds ago to stiffen the midfield defence in the hope of containing the Wallabies’ Samu Kerevi, but starred in the stunning semi-final victory over New Zealand after being restored to the team.

Farrell and Manu Tuilagi continue their centre partnership and there is a boost for England in the front row after Kyle Sinckler won his battle with a calf injury to resume at tighthead prop.

There is one injury-enforced change on the bench where Ben Spencer comes in for Willi Heinz, who has been ruled out of Jones’ 50th Test as head coach because of a hamstring injury.

Spencer will win his fourth cap and make his World Cup debut if he is brought on to replace scrum-half Ben Youngs.

It is the first time since March 2016 and only the second occasion overall that Jones has named an unchanged starting XV.

Farrell leads a side that contains 731 caps as England play in their fourth final and bid to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy for the second time.

England team to face South Africa

Elliot Daly, Anthony Watson, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell, Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes; Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Joe Marler, Dan Cole, George Kruis, Mark Wilson, Ben Spencer, Henry Slade, Jonathan Joseph.

“It has been a good week, the players have been together a while now so it’s less about the volume of training this week, it’s more about sharpening the sword,” Jones said.

“South Africa are a difficult opponent and we are going to have to fight really hard to win.

“We know the physical part of the game is going to be important and the players will go into this game well prepared knowing how we want to play. We will go and play with no fear.

“South Africa will probably play a similar type of game to what they have played all tournament so we need be good in the arm wrestle so that when we have the opportunities to break the game up, we are then confident and composed enough to take them.”

And Jones insists England are undaunted by the challenge of lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy.

“We’re enjoying the tournament – the only sadness is that the tournament is going to end,” he said.

“We’re having a great time and we want it to continue, but it comes to an end so we’ve got one more opportunity to play well.

Jones has cut a relaxed figure ahead of Englands showdown with South Africa

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Jones has cut a relaxed figure ahead of Englands showdown with South Africa

“We want to play with no fear. We can definitely play better, there’s no doubt about it. The players know that.

“There’s a steeliness about the players but also a nice, relaxed feeling because they know they’ve done the work so they can get on with the job.

“Our whole mindset this week about is taking the game to South Africa, playing with no fear. Where can we take our game to? What level can we take our game to?

“We know South Africa aren’t going to give us the game, they are going to come hard. We’ve got to meet their physicality, but we’re looking forward to that and being able to impose our game on them.”

South Africa, meanwhile, have made just one change to their starting XV.

Star wing Cheslin Kolbe replaces Sbu Nkosi on the right wing after recovering from the ankle injury that forced him to miss the 19-16 last-four victory over Wales.

The Springboks have remained true to form by naming a six-two split between forwards and backs on the bench, signalling their intent to target England upfront.

“Obviously we were a bit nervous when we lost Cheslin for the semi-final,” head coach Rassie Erasmus said.

“Cheslin is world-class. He’s shown that whenever he has played for us, no matter if he slotted in at 15 or played wing.

“Everybody knows that he’s got that X-factor and against England, with the way they defend, that’s something we will definitely need.”

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