Third-ranked England will face fifteenth-ranked Tonga in a Pool C match on 22 September at the Sapporo Dome, Sapporo. Kickoff is at 19:15 local (06:15 ET). The match may be viewed on NBC Sports Gold live or on-demand as part of an RWC subscription package.
England Head Coach Eddie Jones has selected a back-row combination that includes two players that typically play openside flanker in Tom Curry and Sam Underhill, with Billy Vunipola at No.8. The trio has played one match together.
Owen Farrell will captain England at inside-center against Tonga with George Ford starting at fly-half.
Jones indicated that “the team knows that Tonga will be ferocious and full of pride and passion. Should they some momentum they can be very dangerous and are well-coached by Toutai Kefu.”
Manu Tuilagi was named at outside-center with Elliot Daly, Jonny May and Anthony Watson making up the back three. Ben Youngs will be the first England scrum-half to appear in three Rugby World Cups and starts his 90th match for his country.
Tonga has Nasi Manu on the match-day 23, his first test match since defeating cancer. He did not play during 2018 while undergoing chemotherapy.
Ben Tameifuna rejoins the starting XV in the front row.
Four players in the match-day squad played against the All Blacks in their last Rugby World Cup match four years ago: Sanatane Takulua, Siale Piutau, Sione Kalamafoni, and Kurt Morath, who is Tonga’s all-time leading points scorer with 340.
Head coach Toutai Kefu said: “We’re really looking forward to this game and the team has been preparing really well for our last two weeks here in Japan. England is an excellent team and we know that this going to be a tough challenge, but we wouldn’t have it any other way and the team is looking forward to Sunday.”
England: 1 Joe Marler 2 Jamie George 3 Kyle Sinckler 4 Courtney Lawes 5 Maro Itoje 6 Tom Curry 7 Sam Underhill 8 Billy Vunipola 9 Ben Youngs 10 George Ford 11 Jonny May 12 Owen Farrell (capt.) 13 Manu Tuilagi 14 Anthony Watson 15 Elliot Daly 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie 17 Ellis Genge 18 Dan Cole 19 George Kruis 20 Lewis Ludlam 21 Willi Heinz 22 Henry Slade 23 Jonathan Joseph
Tonga: 1. Siegfried ‘Fisiihoi 2. Sosefo Sakalia 3. Ben Tameifuna 4. Sam Lousi 5. Halaleva Fifita 6. Sione Kalamafoni 7. Zane Kapeli 8. Maama Vaipulu 9. Sonatane Takulua 10. Kurt Morath 11. Viliami Lolohea 12. Cooper Vuna 13. Siale Piutau (capt.) 14. Atieli Pakalani 15. David Halaifonua 16. Siua Maile 17. Latu Talakai 18. Ma’afu Fia 19. Dan Faleafa 20. Nasi Manu 21. Leon Fukofuka 22. James Faiva 23. Nafi Tu’itavake