Thursday 27 June 2019

Burgess benched as England name team to face Australia

England's Jonathan Joseph during training
Action Images via Reuters / Henry Browne
England's Jonathan Joseph during training Action Images via Reuters / Henry Browne Livepic

England have named Jonathan Joseph at outside centre for Saturday's World Cup match against Australia at Twickenham, the Rugby Football Union has announced. Sam Burgess drops to the bench.

Joseph has recovered from the pectoral muscle injury that ruled him out of the 28-25 defeat by Wales and will resume his partnership with Brad Barritt, who is restored to his more accustomed position in the number 12 jersey.

Owen Farrell has been retained at fly-half - George Ford continues on the bench - with Burgess set to reprise the role of second-half impact replacement that he played against Fiji.

Ben Morgan returns at number eight in one of two changes to the pack, taking the place of Billy Vunipola who has been ruled out of the remainder of the World Cup by a knee injury.

Morgan has recovered from his knee problem but an issue with the same joint has accounted for Courtney Lawes, who misses out with Joe Launchbury promoted from the bench to partner Geoff Parling in the second row.

Scrum-half Ben Youngs, who excelled against Wales, has overcome his ankle injury and will be involved in a match England must win if they are to save their World Cup from oblivion.

Nick Easter, Vunipola's squad replacement, goes straight on to the bench so James Haskell is axed from the 23 altogether, while George Kruis provides second row cover.

"Jonathan Joseph and Ben Youngs are both fit and raring to go, as are the rest of the squad for what will be a huge game against a very good team," head coach Stuart Lancaster said.

"England-Australia matches at Twickenham are always massive occasions, this one more than ever, and we want everyone behind us so we can get the result we all want."

Lancaster admitted he faces a tenure-defining clash against Australia, but refused to accept he had looked past the weekend.

When asked if his entire time with England hangs on this week, Lancaster said: "I think that's fair to say.

"It's a must-win game because if we lose we don't get out of the group.

"So there's no point hiding where the accountability lies.

"As a head coach you don't take the players beyond Saturday, you take them to Saturday.

"You put them in the right place to play a strong game on Saturday.

"There's no denying it, the stakes are huge for us, but the boys will be ready.

"I'm not going beyond this game, there's a lot of things to play out over the next two weeks.

"You can't spend your time thinking about what's happened in the past or what might happen in the future.

"If you distract yourself with the what-ifs then you aren't doing your job.

"It was a big blow to lose Jonathan Joseph last week, he's hard to replace.

"To have him back in the team is a real positive.

"I still had my fingers crossed in the fitness test yesterday, but he's ready to play."

Former Australia coach Bob Dwyer has claimed Joe Marler cuts illegal angles at the scrum, but Lancaster refused to dignify those remarks.

"We don't get a chance to speak to referees before World Cup games but we're in constant dialogue with (referees manager) Joel Jutge," said Lancaster.

"Certainly over the last couple of years we've had very good feedback from him, consistently.

"I think our scrum has been good, honest and excellent across the last three years.

"We've also got a high-quality referee in Romain Poite and he's more than capable of refereeing this game without anyone's help I'm sure."

Australia boss Michael Cheika accepts England believe the Wallabies have a "weak" forward pack, but Lancaster denied that as the general perception among his squad.

"No I don't," said Lancaster, when asked if he thinks Australia have an underpowered pack.

"They've improved but I think we can put pressure on them.

"Their breakdown they've got two very, very good breakdown experts."

Starting XV: Brown, Watson, Joseph, Barritt, May, Farrell, B Youngs; Marler, T Youngs, Cole, Launchbury, Parling, Wood, Robshaw, Morgan

Replacements: Webber, M Vunipola, Brookes, Kruis, Easter, Wigglesworth, Ford, Burgess

More to follow

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