England will have no qualms about starting Tom Curry in the final pool D match against Samoa despite the openside flanker playing just two minutes of rugby in the past four months.
Curry missed all four World Cup warm-up matches with an ankle injury but his comeback lasted just a matter of seconds before he was sent off against Argentina for a head-to-head collision with full-back Juan Cruz Mallía.
When is it?
England will play Samoa on Saturday, October 7, with the match kicking off at 4.45pm (BST, 5.45pm local time).
Where is it?
Stade Pierre-Mauroy is the home of French football team LOSC Lille. The stadium was renamed in 2013, following the death of the former Mayor of Lille and former prime minister of France Pierre Mauroy.
With a capacity of just over 50,000, Stade Pierre-Mauroy is the one of the largest stadiums in France. Built in 2012, the stadium features a retractable roof and has solar panels and two wind turbines, which provide an electricity supply.
The stadium will host five pool-stage matches including two of England’s games and will also be the venue for the handball and basketball tournaments in the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Who is the referee?
Andrew Brace will take charge of this fixture. Brace came in for criticism back in 2020 for his performance in England’s Autumn Nations Cup game against France but is now a regular for top Tests, including recently England’s loss to Argentina and Scotland’s Six Nations win over Wales.
How to watch on TV
ITV has exclusive broadcast rights to show the Rugby World Cup in the UK. This match will be on ITV1.
Radio commentary will be available only on the BBC, across Radio 5 Live, 5 Sports Extra and the BBC Sounds service. The BBC says there will be a “bespoke output” in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
How do I get tickets?
Tickets for this match are still available and can be purchased via the official Rugby World Cup ticket portal.
What is the latest news?
Having served his subsequent two-match suspension, Curry is free to play against Samoa with England already guaranteed a quarter-final place. Attack coach Richard Wigglesworth has no doubt that the 25-year-old is ready to start leaving head coach Steve Borthwick with some big calls to make on his back-row permutations.
“I don’t think he will hold much back Tom, he is all action,” Wigglesworth said. “He’s fit as a fiddle and that’s the way he plays, multiple actions in games where he affects the game on both sides of the ball. I think we will get the best of Tom Curry in terms of him getting straight into it from the start. Absolutely delighted to get him back, it was tough for him to come back from that [the red cards] but he has reacted really well and got stuck into his training.
“A menace in training because he’s so good so he’s everywhere. He’s incredibly committed, diligent. As you’d expect from the really, really top player that he is, all those traits he shows. He’s chomping at the bit and we’re delighted for him that he’s back and raring to go.
“We have got some quality back rows and by the very nature of the squad you are always going to have a couple of guys who miss out that you know are good enough to play international rugby. It is a tough one. I’ll let Steve deal with that one.”
England are already guaranteed top spot after Japan failed to claim a bonus point against Samoa last Thursday. Yet after a two-week break after their 71-0 thumping of Chile, Wigglesworth insists they are not viewing the match as a free hit-out and will pick a fully loaded side.
“I don’t think there will be experimentation in this game,” Wigglesworth said. “I don’t think the same team will probably get played game after game. The team picked will be the best team to try to beat Samoa.
“We’re delighted to qualify, but was there a pat on the back? Absolutely not, no. It’s not what we do, and it’s not what you do if you’re trying to turn up and get better. And we know Samoa have come out and said it’s their cup final, so we’re expecting an organised, physical, talented, well-coached and committed team.”
What is the recent history between the teams?
England and Samoa have played each other on eight occasions with England maintaining a 100 per cent record having won every match.
In their most recent meeting outside of a World Cup, England secured a 48-14 victory over Samoa at Twickenham during the 2017 autumn internationals.
What are England’s pool other matches?
Saturday, September 9 – England 27 v Argentina 10
Sunday, September 17 – England 34 Japan 12
Saturday, September 23 – England 71 Chile 0
Who is in the England squad?
England’s squad selection for the Rugby World Cup was severely disrupted by injuries and suspensions. Steve Borthwick named his 33-man squad on Aug 7. But after that date:
Owen Farrell received a four-match ban – that ruled him out of the opening two World Cup games – for a high-tackle during a warm-up match against Wales;
Jack van Poortvliet was ruled out of the squad through injury, and replaced by Alex Mitchell;
Billy Vunipola was suspended for three games, for a similar high tackle against Ireland, but had his ban reduced by attending “tackle school” and returned against Japan;
Anthony Watson was sidelined by injury and replaced by Jonny May.
You can read Will Greenwood’s verdict on the men who have been selected.
Who is in the Samoa squad?
Seilala Mapuusa, the Samoa coach, has picked three former All Blacks in his World Cup squad: fly-half Lima Sopoaga, flanker Steven Luatua and prop Charlie Faumuina. Fly-half Christian Leali’ifano, also in the Samoa squad, represented Australia at the 2019 World Cup.
Mapuusa also announced co-captains for the World Cup, with Chris Vui and Michael Alaalatoa sharing leadership duties.
Samoa’s squad for the 2023 Rugby World Cup
Backs: Neria Foma’i, Alai D’Angelo Leuila, Nigel Ah Wong, Ben Lam, Ed Fidow, Tumua Manu, Danny Toala, Ulupano Junior Seuteni, Duncan Paia’aua, Lima Sopoaga, Christian Leali’ifano, Jonathan Taumateine, Ereatara Enari, Melani Matavao.
Forwards: Fritz Lee, So’otala Fa’aso’o, Jordan Taufua, Alamanda Motuga, Miracle Fai’ilagi, Steven Luatua, Taleni Seu, Chris Vui (co-capt), Sam Slade, Theo McFarland, Brian Alainu’uese, Charlie Faumuina, Paul Alo-Emile, Michael Alaalatoa (co-capt), Jordan Lay, Seilala Lam, Sama Malolo, Luteru Tolai.