England v Japan: Lewis Ludlam starts with Billy Vunipola on bench for Rugby World Cup match

Rugby World Cup: Pool D - England v Japan

Venue: Stade de Nice Date: Sunday 17 September Kick-off: 20:00 BST

Coverage: Listen to live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Sounds and online; follow text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

Lewis Ludlam has been rewarded for his energetic cameo in last weekend's win over Argentina with a starting spot in England's meeting with Japan in Nice.

The 27-year-old, who made 11 tackles after coming on in the 66th minute against the Pumas, replaces the suspended Tom Curry in the back row.

Kyle Sinckler and Joe Marler start as props with Ellis Genge dropping to the bench.

Ludlam starts at number eight with Ben Earl shifting to open-side flanker.

Billy Vunipola, returning from a two-match ban following his red card for a high hit on Andrew Porter in England's warm-up match defeat by Ireland last month, is among the replacements where Ben Youngs is preferred to fellow scrum-half Danny Care.

Short presentational grey line
Short presentational grey line

England: Steward; May, Marchant, Tuilagi, Daly; Ford, Mitchell; Marler, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Chessum, Lawes (capt), Earl, Ludlam.

Replacements: Dan, Genge, Stuart, Martin, Vunipola, Youngs, Smith, Lawrence.

Short presentational grey line
Short presentational grey line

England captain Owen Farrell will watch from the stands once more as he serves the fourth and final match of a suspension imposed by World Rugby following his own dismissal against Wales in August.

In Farrell's absence, George Ford, whose last England Test start before this tournament was in March 2021, gets another chance to stake his claim to the fly-half role after an impressive performance in the win over Argentina.

Japan reached the last eight as hosts of the last Rugby World Cup, chalking up wins over Ireland and Scotland en route, however their progress since has stalled.

They have not beaten a Six Nations or Rugby Championship side in the intervening four years and suffered warm-up defeats by Samoa, Fiji and Italy in their build-up to France 2023.

They briefly trailed Chile before recovering to claim a 42-12 victory in their Pool D opener.

Coach Jamie Joseph has brought in three veterans of Japan's 2019 campaign for the meeting with England - hooker Shota Horie, flanker Pieter Labuschagne and captain and number eight Kazuki Himeno - with centre Tomoki Osada the other change to the starting line-up.

Japan: Masirewa; Matsushima, Osada, Nakamura, Naikabula; Matsuda, Nagare; Inagaki, Horie, Gu, Cornelsen, Fakatava, Leitch, Labuschagne, Himeno (c)

Replacements: Sakate, Millar, Ai Valu, Dearns, Shimokawa, Saito, Riley, Lemeki.

Pool D table
Pool D table

England's Pool D fixtures

Saturday, 9 September: England 27-10 Argentina

Sunday, 17 September: England v Japan (Stade de Nice), 20:00

Saturday, 23 September: England v Chile (Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille), 16:45

Saturday 7 October: England v Samoa (Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille), 16:45