England selects unchanged team for Rugby World Cup final
TOKYO (AP) — England kept an unchanged XV for the Rugby World Cup final against South Africa, with Owen Farrell, Jonny May and Kyle Sinckler overcoming injuries to make the starting lineup for Saturday's game.
The only change to the matchday 23 saw Ben Spencer replace fellow scrumhalf Willi Heinz on the bench. Heinz sustained a hamstring injury late in the 19-7 win over New Zealand in the semifinals, so Spencer was summoned from England.
Sinckler had appeared to be the main injury concern for England, with the prop practicing away from the main group this week because of tightness in his calf muscle.
Farrell, the captain, has overcome a number of minor issues to start at center, while winger May has again shrugged off a hamstring problem that has been nagging him since the win over Australia in the quarterfinals.
"It's less about the volume of training this week," England coach Eddie Jones said, "it's more about sharpening the sword."
Jones has urged his team to "go and play with no fear" against the Springboks, an opponent he described as "difficult."
"South Africa will probably play a similar type of game they have played all tournament," Jones said, "so we need to 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."
Spencer has played just 20 minutes of international rugby, through three appearances as a substitute. He was due to play for Saracens this weekend — now he is likely to be playing his first game at a World Cup.
England team: Elliot Daly, Anthony Watson, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell (captain), Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Billy Vunipola, Sam Underhill, Tom Curry, Courtney Lawes, Maro Itoje, Kyle Sinckler, Jamie George, Mako Vunipola. Reserves: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Joe Marler, Dan Cole, George Kruis, Mark Wilson, Ben Spencer, Henry Slade, Jonathan Joseph.