LONDON (Reuters) - England’s probable World Cup midfield partnership of Brad Barritt and Jonathan Joseph will start together for the first time in Saturday’s final warm up match against Ireland, coach Stuart Lancaster said on Tuesday.
Barritt’s last test was the victory over Australia in November 2014 before injury ruled him out of the Six Nations and his defensive organisation and tough tackling is considered key to England’s chances by the management.
He has played only a few minutes of international rugby alongside Joseph, who has developed into England’s most dangerous back.
Fellow centre Sam Burgess is named among the replacements and will feature at some point at Twickenham to add to his solitary cap earned in last month’s warm-up win over France.
Lancaster, who said Saturday’s team would be close to his first-choice side, opted for Jonny May on the left wing ahead of Jack Nowell, while Ben Morgan gets more much-needed game time as the starting number eight after his long injury layoff with a broken leg.
George Ford and Ben Youngs are the starting halfbacks with Courtney Lawes and Geoff Parling in the second row.
“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, and it leaves us with lots of options both starting and from the bench,” Lancaster said in a statement.
“The players know that having made the 31 is not enough and we have seen in training how determined they are to be in that squad to play Fiji in the opening game (of the World Cup).”
England team to play Ireland
15-Mike Brown, 14-Anthony Watson, 13-Jonathan Joseph,12-Brad Barritt, 11-Jonny May, 10-George Ford, 9-Ben Youngs; 8-Ben Morgan, 7-Chris Robshaw (captain), 6-Tom Wood, 5-Geoff Parling, 4-Courtney Lawes, 3-Dan Cole, 2-Tom Youngs, 1-Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16-Jamie George, 17-Mako Vunipola, 18-Kieran Brookes, 19-Joe Launchbury, 20-Billy Vunipola, 21-Richard Wigglesworth, 22-Owen Farrell, 23-Sam Burgess.
Editing by Ken Ferris