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England hand veterans final hurrah for Rugby World Cup third place play off

Centre Manu Tuilagi and scrumhalf Ben Youngs will start Friday’s Rugby World Cup third place play-off in what could be their final England appearances.

Fellow veterans in prop Dan Cole and half-back Danny Care, both 36, are named on the bench for Friday’s game with Argentina in Paris.

Back-rower Courtney Lawes and winger Jonny May have announced they are retiring from Test rugby and are denied a chance to have a final bow with head coach Steve Borthwick omitting the pair from the matchday squad.

“A couple of players have said publicly this will be their last game,” Borthwick told reporters.

“This is our last game as a team for a period, and we want to make sure it is fitting for the style of play we want,” he added.

Flanker Tom Curry will make his 50th England appearance despite being at the centre of an investigation into an allegation he was racially abused by South Africa hooker Bongi Mbonambi during last Saturday’s semi-final.

“His preparation this week has been the ultimate professional, like he is every single day, every week,” Bortwick said of Curry.

“Someone has said something that he has reported and this is a World Rugby matter now.

“We’ve said what we want to say on the matter,” he added.

Curry, 25, retains his position from the agonising 16-15 last four loss to the defending champions as Borthwick makes eight changes to his team.

Winger Elliot Daly, prop Joe Marler, hooker Jamie George, lock George Martin scrum-half Alex Mitchell join Lawes, May and Cole in missing out on the starting lineup.

Tuilagi, 32, partners Joe Marchant in midfield and 34-year-old Youngs is at half-back alongside captain Owen Farrell.

Farrell was serving a suspension when England opened their campaign with an impressive 27-10 victory over the Pumas, the English playing most of the match with 14 men after Curry was sent off.

“It is our second six-day turnaround in a row, we’ve had some pretty intense games so some of the alterations are about making sure we bring some energy to it,” Borthwick said.

“We want to win on Friday against a very good Argentina side.

“This squad has built and progressed through the tournament and we want to continue that progression.”

Team (15-1)

Marcus Smith; Freddie Steward, Joe Marchant, Manu Tuilagi, Henry Arundell; Owen Farrell (capt), Ben Youngs; Ben Earl, Sam Underhill, Tom Curry; Ollie Chessum, Maro Itoje; Will Stuart, Theo Dan, Ellis Genge

Replacements: Jamie George, Bevan Rodd, Dan Cole, Dave Ribbans, Lewis Ludlam, Danny Care, George Ford, Ollie Lawrence

Coach: Steve Borthwick (ENG)