Owen Farrell given fly-half nod for England against Tonga

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Farrell will start at 10  (PA Wire)
Farrell will start at 10 (PA Wire)

Owen Farrell has been given the playmaking duties for England’s Autumn Nations Series opener against Tonga with Marcus Smith forced to settle for a bench role.

Smith was a doubt for the Twickenham showdown because of a leg injury that has restricted his training this week but he is deemed fit enough to supply fly-half cover to Farrell.

The Harlequins sensation was expected to be given the role of ringmaster for his third cap but Eddie Jones has instead opted for a midfield of Farrell, Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade.

Rising Leicester star Freddie Steward has recovered from his leg injury to take his place at full-back with fellow emerging prospect Adam Radwan on the right wing.

Ellis Genge is preferred to Joe Marler at loosehead prop and Tom Curry is given the number eight jersey ahead of Alex Dombrandt, who features alongside Harlequins team-mate Smith on the bench.

“We’ve had two good preparation camps in Jersey and Pennyhill Park, worked really hard and we’re ready for a tough, physical game,” Jones said.

“We respect Tonga greatly and we know that with props like Siegfried Fisi’ihoi and Ben Tameifuna, we are going to have to go in the front door before the back door.

“We’re especially looking forward to getting back out in front of a full crowd at Twickenham and playing some entertaining, exciting rugby for all of the supporters, we can’t wait to have them back.”

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