Bring on the Bomb Squad! England’s Rugby World Cup stars look relaxed as Owen Farrell leads their captain’s run on the eve of their semi-final against heavy-hitting South Africa
- England are set to face South Africa in the World Cup semi-final tomorrow
- Owen Farrell has led his team through the captain’s run ahead of the game
- England are looking to avenge their defeat to the Springboks in the 2019 final
- Latest Rugby World Cup 2023 news, including fixtures, live scores and results
Owen Farrell was all smiles as he led his England side through the captain’s run ahead of their World Cup semi-final against South Africa on Saturday.
England booked their place in the final four by beating Fiji 30-24 last Sunday, and have now turned their attention to facing the Springboks this weekend.
Despite winning all five of their matches at this year’s tournament, England enter the match as sizeable underdogs against the defending champions.
However, there were few signs of nerves on Friday as the team went through their final preparations for the game.
Farrell, who scored 20 points in a player of the match display last weekend, was seen grinning in practice having regained his place as Steve Borthwick’s preferred fly-half.
Owen Farrell with a broad grin as he leads his side through their captain’s run
Courtney Lawes was also in good spirits ahead of Saturday’s semi-final against South Africa
Joe Marler showed off his football skills as England went through their final preparations
Courtney Lawes was also laughing during the session, with the back row forward hoping to go one better than four years ago in what is likely to be his final World Cup at the age of 34.
England have an experienced squad, with several players still in the team after playing in the final defeat to South Africa in 2019.
One of those players is prop Joe Marler, who has got the nod to start over Ellis Genge.
The 33-year-old is known for not taking himself too seriously, and was spotted showing off his football skills as he volleyed the ball with his right foot.
George Martin comes into the team this week in place of Ollie Chessum after largely being used as an impact player throughout the World Cup.
He will be charged with trying to keep South Africa’s second row of Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert quiet, and looked focused as he went through his drills.
England’s bench will also play a crucial role as they look to deal with South Africa’s infamous ‘Bomb Squad’.
George Martin (right) will start Saturday’s match, and looked focused in training on Friday
Kyle Sinckler (centre) will be hoping to make an impact off the bench, and was all smiles in training
Kyle Sinckler went off in the opening minutes in the 2019 final after being knocked out following a collision with team-mate Maro Itoje, and has been named among the replacements this weekend.
He is still searching for the form that made him one of the world’s best props four years ago, but did not look overly concerned on Friday as he smiled his way through training.
England were widely written off before the tournament after a dismal set of warm-up games that saw them lose to Wales, Ireland and Fiji.
They have built momentum over the last six weeks, though, growing closer as a group as the World Cup has progressed.
Steve Borthwick’s men were largely written off prior to the tournament after a difficult 2023
They have won five out of five so far, but now face the ultimate test against South Africa
They got into a large huddle during the captain’s run, with Farrell likely to be reiterating the standards he wants his side to meet.
The team have received a slightly fortuitous route through to the semi-final after being placed in the bottom half of the draw away from the likes of New Zealand and Ireland.
Now they face the ultimate test against a South African side brimming with confidence after knocking out hosts France in the quarter-finals.
In a little over 24 hours, we will find out if Borthwick’s men are up to the challenge as they aim to reach a fifth World Cup final in England’s history.
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