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Marcus Smith starts at fly-half with Ellis Genge captain

Marcus Smith will start at fly-half for England against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday, with Ellis Genge captaining the side.

Smith, 24, last started for England in the 53-10 defeat by France in the Six Nations, and is joined by Harlequins team-mate Danny Care at scrum-half.

Flanker Tom Pearson makes his debut, while potential debutants Theo Dan and Tom Willis are on the bench.

Max Malins is the only player from the Premiership final in the starting XV.

This is the team’s final match before head coach Steve Borthwick confirms his 33-man squad for the World Cup in France on Monday morning.

Regular captain Owen Farrell, plus fellow stalwarts Jamie George and Maro Itoje, who helped Saracens win the Premiership final against Sale, are absent from the squad.

Marcus Smith starts at fly-half with Ellis Genge captain

Smith gets another opportunity to showcase his talent after a mixed Six Nations that ended with Farrell re-establishing himself as the starting number 10.

Sale’s George Ford, who played under Borthwick during Leicester’s Premiership title-winning season in 2022, is the back-up fly-half on Saturday.

There are only five starters from the team that played Ireland in the Six Nations finale in March. Prop Genge, who captained England against France, is joined in a new front row by Newcastle hooker Jamie Blamire and Bath’s Will Stuart, with David Ribbans and George Martin in the second row.

Both Lewis Ludlam and Alex Dombrandt started the game against Ireland and are joined by debutant Pearson in the back row.

In the backline, Leicester center Guy Porter partners Stade Francais’ Joe Marchant in a new-look midfield, with Bath winger Joe Cokanasiga returning to the side.

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