Marcus Smith will start at full-back here on Saturday in a revamped England side led by Owen Farrell, who has been recalled at No 10 following his ban for a high tackle.
As expected, Steve Borthwick has opted to rotate his playmakers, with Smith wearing 15 for the first time, having made some encouraging cameo appearances off the bench in that previously unfamiliar position, in the warm-ups last month and in the early World Cup wins over Argentina and Japan.
Farrell’s return against minnows Chile was inevitable as the skipper requires game-time after serving his four-match suspension, and he will operate at fly-half, with George Ford shifting to the bench.
There is every chance that the tried-and-tested 10-12 alliance of Ford and Farrell will be in place by the time England finish their latest Pool D fixture, which allows them to experiment as the result is a foregone conclusion. But it will be intriguing to observe how Smith fares from the outset at full-back and whether he can stay on the field once Ford has been deployed, or whether he will automatically have to make way for the experienced Sale conductor.
Borthwick has made full use of his squad for this encounter with South American opponents who have reached their first World Cup. Those supporters desperate to see an outbreak of English flair will be heartened by the inclusion of Racing 92-bound wing sensation Henry Arundell. His turbo-charged presence in the back three, alongside Smith, means the national team should not lack lethal attacking outlets, if – as expected – their pack gain ascendancy up front.
Marcus Smith will start in an unfamiliar full back role in a revamped England side against Chile
Head coach Steve Borthwick has rung the changes for England’s match with the minnows
Captain Owen Farrell returns at fly-half for England having completed his four-match ban
Elliot Daly continues in the starting XV but has been shifted from wing to outside centre, as a sign of his utility value, to form a new midfield partnership with Ollie Lawrence. Danny Care will join forces with Farrell at half back and the veteran Harlequin will be charged with bringing the sort of energy, purpose and tempo which Alex Mitchell has been providing.
Up front, Bevan Rodd will enjoy his first involvement in the tournament at loosehead prop, with fellow rookie Theo Dan at hooker and Kyle Sinckler providing more experience at tighthead, having also started against Japan in Nice last Sunday. Having endured a difficult summer, Bristol’s Lion will be desperate to regain his untouchable status as the country’s pre-eminent No 3, by demonstrating the results of so much set-piece work behind the scenes.
It is unusual to see an England line-up without Maro Itoje in it, but he is rested entirely, with David Ribbans and George Martin combining in the second row and Ollie Chessum as the under-study on the bench this week. In the back row, Billy Vunipola will hope to build momentum with more vital game-time at No 8 and Jack Willis can showcase his breakdown prowess at openside while Tom Curry completes his high-tackle ban.
England have a huge tally of caps among their replacements and plenty of dynamism and personal motivation with their XV for a game which will see them confirm their qualification for the quarter-finals.
Borthwick will hope that several of his men on a mission will perform well enough to give him glaring dilemmas to ponder next week, ahead of the pool finale against dangerous Samoa on October 7, back here in Lille.