Rugby World Cup: Lewis Ludlam earns starting spot, Billy Vunipola drops to bench for England against Japan – Eurosport

Steve Borthwick has made three changes to the England side that beat Argentina last Saturday, as Lewis Ludlam comes into the starting XV.

The other two changes see Kyle Sinckler and Joe Marler move into the front row, replacing the benched Ellis George and Dan Cole, who has been removed from the squad.

Billy Vunipola is available for selection again after serving a two-match ban picked up following his red card in the warm-up defeat to Ireland, but coach Borthwick has elected to go with Ludlam instead.

Vunipola is named on the bench with Ben Youngs, with the latter providing cover for Alex Mitchell at scrum-half.

Captain Owen Farrell is ruled out once more, as he serves the final game of a four-match suspension after the red card debacle that ensued following the Wales warm-up match.

Speaking after the squad was announced, Borthwick told “It was both pleasing and important that we were able to start our Rugby World Cup campaign with a good win against Argentina last Saturday.

“It was incredible to see so many of our supporters in the stadium in Marseille. Their support means a great deal to the team. We hope that we were able to provide the supporters both here in France and at home with some great memories, and we are setting out to do the same again this Sunday in Nice.

“After another good week’s preparation in Le Touquet, we are looking forward to the challenge of playing a Japan side that will be full of confidence following their comprehensive win over Chile in their opening fixture of the competition.”

Like England, Japan have experienced an unconvincing build-up to the tournament following warm-up defeats to Samoa, Fiji and Italy.

They laboured to a 42-12 win over Chile in their Pool D opener, and coach Jamie Joseph has made changes to the side for Sunday.

Hooker Shota Horie, flanker Pieter Labuschagne, captain Kazuki Himeno and centre Tomoki Osada are the players coming into the side.

The full teams can be viewed below.

England: Steward; May, Marchant, Tuilagi, Daly; Ford, Mitchell; Marler, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Chessum, Lawes (C), Earl, Ludlam.

Replacements: Dan, Genge, Stuart, Martin, Vunipola, Youngs, Smith, Lawrence.

Japan: Masirewa; Matsushima, Osada, Nakamura, Naikabula; Matsuda, Nagare; Inagaki, Horie, Gu, Cornelsen, Fakatava, Leitch, Labuschagne, Himeno (C).

Replacements: Sakate, Millar, Ai Valu, Dearns, Shimokawa, Saito, Riley, Lemeki.

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