Rugby Union

Brad Barritt and Jonathan Joseph to pair up for England against Ireland

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Football News

England have selected Brad Barritt and Jonathan Joseph as their centre pairing for Saturday's World Cup warm-up game against Ireland at Twickenham.

It will be the first time Barritt and Joseph have started a match together, although they formed makeshift midfields midway through Tests against New Zealand and Australia, in what is the 13th different 12-13 axis of Stuart Lancaster's reign.

Barritt has recovered from a calf problem to take his place at inside centre for his first appearance since finishing as the bloodied hero of last autumn's victory over Australia.


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George Ford lines-up at fly-half in a midfield trio that is likely to be England's preferred choice for the World Cup opener against Fiji on September 18.

Sam Burgess supplies midfield cover from the bench and will win his second cap if he is called upon at Twickenham.

Number eight Ben Morgan will make his second appearance since breaking his leg on club duty with Gloucester in January while Geoff Parling returns to the second row in an effort to improve the line-out that malfunctioned against France in Paris.

There are five changes to the starting XV toppled 25-20 by Les Bleus with wing Anthony Watson, flanker Tom Wood, Barritt, Parling and Morgan drafted into the side.

"It's great to see Brad back along with the guys that missed the Six Nations such as Ben Morgan, Joe Launchbury and Owen Farrell, who now have a Test match under their belts," Lancaster said.

"It leaves us with lots of options both starting and from the bench."

England were dire at the Stade de France with late tries from Joseph and Danny Cipriani glossing over the size of the defeat and the visit of Ireland has been transformed into an encounter they dare not lose.

"It's a game we definitely want to win because it will build momentum heading into Fiji. We'll know more about our players after this weekend," Lancaster said.

Wales coach Warren Gatland began the mind games after stating on Monday that his team were "a little bit more settled and more comfortable" with their "experience and combinations" that Pool A rivals England, who he also claimed "are not 100 per cent sure of where they are going".

"It's up too Warren what he thinks. We're concentrating on ourselves and we don't play Wales until September 26. We'll go one day at a time," Lancaster said.

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