AP NEWS

The Latest: Ford returns for England in place of Slade

October 24, 2019
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England's Owen Farrell, left, and George Ford attend a training session in Urayasu, outside Tokyo, Japan, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. England will play New Zealand in a Rugby World Cup semifinal in Yokohama on Saturday Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
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England's Owen Farrell, left, and George Ford attend a training session in Urayasu, outside Tokyo, Japan, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. England will play New Zealand in a Rugby World Cup semifinal in Yokohama on Saturday Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

TOKYO (AP) — The Latest on Thursday at the Rugby World Cup in Japan (all times local):

5 p.m.

Flyhalf George Ford has been recalled by England in the only change to its starting lineup for the Rugby World Cup semifinal match against New Zealand on Saturday.

Ford’s return sees Owen Farrell move across to inside center and Henry Slade drop to the replacements.

In a change on the bench, Mark Wilson replaces fellow flanker Lewis Ludlam.

It is an attacking change by England coach Eddie Jones, with Ford more expansive at No. 10 than Farrell. Farrell reunites with Manu Tuilagi in a powerful-looking midfield.

No. 8 Billy Vunipola wins his 50th cap for England, which is playing in the World Cup semifinals for the first time since 2007.

England team: Elliot Daly, Anthony Watson, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell (captain), Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Billy Vunipola, Sam Underhill, Tom Curry, Courtney Lawes, Maro Itoje, Kyle Sinckler, Jamie George, Mako Vunipola. Reserves: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Joe Marler, Dan Cole, George Kruis, Mark Wilson, Willi Heinz, Henry Slade, Jonathan Joseph.

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3 p.m.

Sbu Nkosi has replaced injured Cheslin Kolbe in the only change to South Africa’s starting lineup for Sunday’s Rugby World Cup semifinal against Wales.

Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus says Kolbe hasn’t recovered from an ankle injury and it had an impact on his performance in the 26-3 quarterfinal win over Japan last weekend.

“It’s disappointing not to have Cheslin available as he has been brilliant for us since we first called him up last year,” Erasmus said. “But we really rate Sbu and he will slot straight in. I am as excited to see what he can do as I would be if ‘Chessie’ were playing. Sbu has been very close to selection as it is.”

Nkosi has 10 test caps and will move into the right wing as a direct replacement for Kolbe in the only change to the 23-man squad.

“We’ve been fortunate to have been able to be pretty consistent in selection and we’ve built some nice momentum,” said Erasmus. “But the challenge just got a lot tougher on Sunday.

South Africa: Willie le Roux, Sbu Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handré Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (captain), Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira. Reserves: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, RG Snyman, Franco Mostert, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjies, Frans Steyn.

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1:30 p.m.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is getting a few laughs out of England coach Eddie Jones’ headline-grabbing comments before their Rugby World Cup semifinal.

Hansen describes Jones as a “hell of a good bloke. Very good coach,” and says he enjoys the “click bait” commentary coming from the other side.

“Eddie and I both know it’s all fair in love and war. And Eddie knows in a time of war that you throw out a bit of distraction.”

Jones has so far this week flagged a spy scandal — without specifically accusing the New Zealand camp — but Hansen says it was all designed for the headline writers.

“Everyone has jumped on it and got the clickbait going,” Hansen said, anticipating more to come.

“There’ll be more tonight. It’s the reason why our press conference is now and his at 5 o’clock,” he said. “It’s been good. We have had a good laugh.”

Hansen announced his 23-man squad on Thursday just before noon, 5 ½ hours before Jones was due to unveil his squad for Saturday’s knockout game at Yokohama. The coaches have been exchanging messages.

“Got a text from him saying ‘How’s it going?’ I replied: ‘Good thanks, Eddie.’ I’m laughing.”

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11:30 a.m.

Scott Barrett will start in the backrow in the only change to New Zealand’s starting XV for the Rugby World Cup semifinal against England.

The versatile Barrett replaces Sam Cane on the blindside flank as the All Blacks bid to bolster the lineout. Barrett replaced Cane in a tactical change at halftime in New Zealand’s 46-14 win over Ireland in the quarterfinals last weekend.

He will join brother, fullback Beauden Barrett, in the starting XV. Another brother, Jordie Barrett, is on the reserves bench.

New Zealand hasn’t lost a game at the Rugby World Cup since an upset defeat to France in 2007 and is the only team to win the title three times.

The All Blacks topped Pool B here, opening with a 23-13 win over South Africa.

Kieran Read missed a training session earlier in the week because of a leg soreness but has recovered to take his place at No. 8 and lead the team.

New Zealand has beaten England in the three previous World Cup meetings.

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New Zealand: Beauden Barrett, Sevu Reece, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read (captain), Ardie Savea, Scott Barrett, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Nepo Laulala, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody. Reserves: Dane Coles, Ofa Tuungafasi, Angus Ta’avao, Patrick Tuipulotu, Sam Cane, T.J. Perenara, Sonny Bill Williams, Jordie Barrett.

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10:30 a.m.

Tension starts building again at the Rugby World Cup when New Zealand coach Steve Hansen and his England counterpart Eddie Jones unveil their squads for the semifinals.

The two-time defending champion All Blacks go into Saturday’s knockout game at Yokohama as favorites after remaining unbeaten at the World Cup since 2007.

England’s improvement since a disappointing group-stage exit when it hosted the tournament in 2015 means the semifinal match will be hotly contested.

The semifinals this weekend feature teams from the southern hemisphere against teams from the northern hemisphere, a contrast to the 2015 edition when New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina filled the last four.

South Africa is expected to announce its team on Thursday for Sunday’s semifinal against Wales. The Welsh are expected to wait until the traditional 48-hour deadline before announcing a team on Friday.

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