Mako Vunipola England vs New Zealand: George Ford recalled as fly-half starts alongside Owen Farrell with Henry Slade dropped

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George Ford will start Saturday’s Rugby World Cup semi-final against New Zealand alongside Owen Farrell after the pair were reunited by Eddie Jones in the England midfield.

Jones makes one change to the starting line-up that defeated Australia last weekend 40-16 to reach the last four at a World Cup for the first time in 12 years, with Ford returning at fly-half and Farrell moving back to inside centre. With Manu Tuilagi shifting to outside centre, Henry Slade drops out of the starting XV.

The England head coach has decided against changing his pack though, despite the threat of the All Blacks’ reinforced lineout after Steve Hansen named an additional lock in the back row in the form of Scott Barrett. It means that Courtney Lawes continues in the second row with Maro Itoje, with George Kruis on the bench.

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There is one more change to the matchday squad as Mark Wilson makes his first appearance since the pool-stage victory over the United States, beating Lewis Ludlam to a place among the replacements.

“Preparation has been good this week after a solid win against Australia,” Jones said. “When you get to this stage of the World Cup it is all about focusing on being in the moment and getting yourself physically right.

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“The squad has approached the game well with real maturity. It has helped having players here who have been on the Lions tour and played against New Zealand. They have been involved in some of the biggest games in world rugby so this semi-final won’t faze them.

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