Will Owen Farrell or George Ford wear the number ten shirt for England in its quarter-final against Fiji in Marseille?
Steve Borthwick will announce his team for the game on Friday, but according to the British media, Farrell is enjoying the inside track to run out at the Stade de Marseille.
According to former player Matt Dawson, this is the biggest moment – in terms of team selection – of Borthwick’s international coaching career.
“Owen Farrell has incredible strengths, while he also has a positive influence on the training field. You often hear how the players and coaches talk about it,” said Dawson.
But the 50-year-old scrum-half, who lifted the Webb Ellis trophy with Martin Johnson in 2003, believes that Ford also adds a lot of value to the team.
“However, if you’re looking for the full-package flyhalf for England, then it’s George Ford. His performances against Argentina and Japan underline the statement: He was in full control of the matches and England played together as a unit.”
The 30-year-old Ford then showed that he will not simply let his team down.
For example, he scored all 27 of the Rose’s points against the South Americans, while he put his opponents under pressure three times with his dropkick skills.
What makes the performance more remarkable is that he gets little playing time while Farrell holds the captaincy reins.
But the England captain’s tackling technique often lets him down and Ford grabbed his chance with both hands while Farrell was suspended.
Suddenly he was England’s great hero and Borthwick couldn’t stop singing his praises.
“George is a very versatile player. He can run with the ball, come up with excellent passing and kicking, while being able to think clearly in pressure cooker situations. He seemed to have so much more time than other players when he sent those set pieces over the crossbar. This is characteristic of a top quality player.”
According to Dawson, Ford’s game also unleashes the attacking skills of England’s most talented player: Marcus Smith.
“Smith will probably run out at full-back and England will have to get the ball from him. Farrell can run the ball, but his ball distribution skills are certainly not on the same level as Ford’s. It’s a difficult choice.”
England and Fiji play at 17:00 on Sunday and the action will be broadcast live on SuperSport.
Previous results between England and Fiji:
1988: England 25 – 12 Fiji
1989: England: 58 – 23 Fiji
1991: England 28 – 12 Fiji
1999: England 45 – 24 Fiji
2012: England 54 – 12 Fiji
2016: England 58 – 15 Fiji
2023: Fiji 30 – 22 England.