Eddie Jones believes his "Samurai" squad will come down the volcanic hills that surround their base near Oita to deliver a merciless performance against Australia tonight, in what the head coach describes as a do-or-die match.

Jones insists that his warriors are "23-strong with eight more hiding up there in the caves", a rallying cry of unity from which George Ford is unlikely to take much consolation after he was dropped to the bench for the second World Cup in succession for the crunch fixtures.

England, in fact, have traded an in-form first five-eighths for another player for the third tournament running, with Martin Johnson doing likewise with Toby Flood and Jonny Wilkinson in 2011. The ploy has not worked before yet Jones is adamant that it is the squad who matter, not the starting XV, likening them to the ancient Japanese military.

"It's do-or-die time," said Jones. "You see those hills at the back of us? That's where the Samurai lived. Every time the Samurai fought, one lived and one died. It will be the same on Saturday: Someone is going to live and someone is going to die. That's the excitement of the knockouts. You get the best eight teams, all playing for their lives."


Australia have delivered even more of a coup in their selection of Jordan Petaia, 19, at centre after just three tests, the youngest player to represent the Wallabies at a World Cup. It is a bold move, in keeping with the mood of the underdog squad.

"The fear inside us is dead," said head coach Michael Cheika. "Jordan is more than ready to do this."

As for Jones, he rejected the notion that he has gambled by ditching Ford as the starting first-five to reassemble the midfield of Owen Farrell, Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade that served England well during the 2019 Six Nations. Slade, though, has seen only 40 minutes of action in this tournament after being troubled by a knee problem. There is little doubt that this line-up has been in Jones' head for some time. To outsiders, Ford is the fall guy. It is not a Sam Burgess moment, the card that collapsed the deck in 2015, but it is certainly an eyebrow-raiser if only for the fact that Ford has been one of the players of the tournament.

It is a fair bet that Jones intended going down this route all along, not showing his hand during the pool matches so as to lure the opposition down a false trail.

Farrell, of course, was the kingpin selection at No10 throughout the year.

England v Australia

Oita Stadium, 8.15 tonight

England: 15. Elliot Daly, 14. Anthony Watson, 13. Henry Slade, 12. Manu Tuilagi, 11. Jonny May, 10. Owen Farrell (c), 9. Ben Youngs, 8. Billy Vunipola, 7. Sam Underhill, 6. Tom Curry, 5. Courtney Lawes, 4. Maro Itoje, 3. Kyle Sinckler, 2. Jamie George, 1. Mako Vunipola.

Reserves: 16. Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17. Joe Marler, 18. Dan Cole, 19. George Kruis, 20. Lewis Ludlam, 21. Willi Heinz, 22. George Ford, 23. Jonathan Joseph


Australia: 15. Kurtley Beale, 14. Reece Hodge, 13. Jordan Petaia, 12. Samu Kerevi, 11. Marika Koroibete, 10. Christian Lealiifano, 9. Will Genia, 8. Isi Naisarani, 7. Michael Hooper (c), 6. David Pocock, 5. Rory Arnold, 4. Izack Rodda, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 2. Tolu Latu, 1. Scott Sio

Reserves: 16. Jordan Uelese, 17. James Slipper, 18. Taniela Tupou, 19. Adam Coleman, 20. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 21. Nicholas White, 22. Matt To'omua, 23. James O'Connor