England’s starting XV vs. France analysed: Sam Burgess makes England bow in the centre.
Stuart Lancaster has named Sam Burgess at inside centre for the first World Cup warm-up match with France at Twickenham this weekend. Read on to see the rest of the team.
15 Alex Goode
Versatile back Goode has played a pivotal role for his club side Saracens over the years but has at times struggled to make his mark on international rugby. He will supply the main competition to first choice Mike Brown, and will be optimistic he can put down a marker with a good display on Saturday.
14 Anthony Watson
The Bath wing may have only made nine caps but the 21-year old has quickly established himself as one of world rugby’s youngest starlets. He is probably a certainty to start at the upcoming World Cup and Lancaster will want to see him scoring tries in the warm-up clashes.
13 Henry Slade
Exeter 22-year old rookie Henry Slade will make his Test debut following an impressive campaign with the Chiefs. The versatile back has represented England at U18 and U20 level. England Academy coach John Fletcher once said of Slade “the way he plays reminds me of a young Toby Flood or Rory Clegg”.
12 Sam Burgess
Burgess will make his international debut at centre after his much-publicised switch from Rugby League to Union last year. Despite playing most of his rugby in the back-row for Bath, he will partner Slade in the centres.
11 Jonny May
The lightening quick winger has been highlighted by the head coach as the standout player in training. This comes months after he was dropped from the England squad during the Six Nations. Some feel it was unjust, but the feeling within the camp is that he has worked his way back into contention following a stellar return to form in Gloucester colours
10 Owen Farrell
He has been handed the fly-half duty this weekend with pressure on his shoulders as Stuart Lancaster has insisted he must excel to displace George Ford. Opinions on the two are still split; maybe it will be clearer after this weekend.
9 Richard Wigglesworth
The Sarries scrum-half has flirted with international stardom a few times but has struggled to establish himself at any point as an England regular. However, if he can impress there is no reason he couldn’t displace Danny Care.
1 Mako Vunipola
Following knee surgery, Vunipola has battled his way back into contention for this Autumn’s showpiece and earned himself a spot for this weekend’s opening warm-up match. The 24-year old is likely to make it to the World Cup if he can rediscover his form starting this weekend.
2 Rob Webber
Despite being out of form at the back-end of the season for Bath Webber is the most experienced hooker in the squad. It’s a position where familiarity is key so if he can put in a good display he may be able to keep 22-year old Luke Cowan-Dickie out of the side.
3 Kieran Brookes
Powerful prop Brookes has regularly appeared in Lancaster’s squads but has failed to nail down a starting spot. However, on the back of his upcoming move to Saints he will want to make an impact for England and with his strength and ability at scrum time and at the breakdown he has a chance.
4 George Kruis
Hard-hitting lock Kruis is another who is on the edge of things but never quite being the leading man. A keen student of the lineout it will be fascinating to see how he performs and whether he can win any ball from the French.
5 Geoff Parling
The second-rower, Parling has impressed in training and will be hoping to show enough this weekend to Lancaster to put himself in the first team frame come the opening of the World Cup.
6 Tom Wood (c)
Saints star Wood will skipper the side this weekend when he wins his 37th cap. Wood will be deputy to Captain Chris Robshaw during the World Cup. Lancaster is looking to be prepared that if in a nightmare scenario they lose skipper Robshaw during the tournament Wood will be prepared to step in and take the responsibility.
7 Calum Clark
Saints Callum Clark will win his first cap this weekend after having previously being called up three times but missed out twice due to injury and once suspension. The imposing 26-year old flanker now has his chance to stake his claim to a first-team place. He has nothing to lose.
8 Ben Morgan
The dominant Number eight plays his first competitive rugby since breaking a leg in action for Gloucester in January. He has earned the starts in front of Saracens’ Billy Vunipola following his vigorous rehabilitation regime to recover in time for the upcoming World Cup.
England replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Alex Corbisiero, 18 David Wilson, 19 Dave Attwood, 20 James Haskell, 21 Danny Care, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Billy Twelvetrees.