Kyle Sinckler has been passed fit for England’s World Cup final against South Africa on Saturday with Eddie Jones selecting an unchanged XV to face the Springboks. Jones has opted to stick by George Ford at fly-half with his captain Owen Farrell at outside centre and has received a major boost with Sinckler recovering from a calf injury to continue at tighthead prop.
Sinckler was replaced early in the second half of England’s semi-final victory over New Zealand and was seen with ice strapped to his leg. His training routine has been largely restricted this week but while he spent the first part of Wednesday’s session away from the squad it is understood he later joined in with his teammates. It is a significant boost for Jones, not only because of Sinckler’s impressive recent form but also because Joe Marler will not be forced into providing emergency tighthead cover.
The only change to the matchday 23 comes on the bench with Ben Spencer replacing the injured Willi Heinz. Spencer arrived in Japan on Monday and has spent the week getting up to speed and if he comes off the bench he will make his World Cup debut in the final.
Ford continues at fly-half after orchestrating England’s 19-7 win over the All Blacks, when he took over goalkicking responsibilities with Farrell struggling with a dead leg. Against Australia in the quarter-final, Ford was dropped with Jones bolstering his midfield to counter the threat of the Wallabies’ Samu Kerevi. South Africa have a similarly powerful runner in Damian de Allende at inside centre but Jones has resisted any temptations to restore Henry Slade to the starting lineup.
“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,” said Jones, who takes charge of England for the 50th time. “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 they have played all tournament so we need be good in the arm wrestle and when we have the opportunities to break the game up, we are then confident and composed enough to take them.”
Courtney Lawes continues in the second row alongside Maro Itoje, with George Kruis again among the replacements. Mako Vunipola, Jamie George are alongside Sinckler in the front row while Tom Curry and Sam Underill are again named as the flankers and Billy Vunipola at No 8. Ben Youngs continues at scrum-half with Manu Tuilagi at outside centre while the back-three is comprised of Elliot Daly, Anthony Watson and Jonny May.
England: Elliot Daly; Anthony Watson, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell (captain); 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.