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England Unchanged For Fiji Opener

England Unchanged For Fiji Opener
Vodafone Flying Fijians backline coach, Tabaiwalu Matson.
September 16
07:59 2015

Hosts England will field an unchanged XV for Friday’s opening match of the World Cup against the Flying Fijians this Saturday at 7am (Fiji time)

Line-out expert Geoff Parling sees off the challenge of Joe Launchbury at lock, while Ben Morgan starts at number eight with Billy Vunipola on the bench.

Bath hooker Rob Webber comes into the replacements alongside ex-rugby league star Sam Burgess while scrum-half Ben Youngs will win his 50th cap.

England boss Stuart Lancaster said his squad is “massively excited”

He added: “Friday will be a great occasion for the whole squad and for the country. We are in a unique position to be playing in a World Cup on home soil and to have the support of a nation behind the team.

“That support will be a massive factor and we don’t underestimate its importance.”

England won their final World Cup warm-up match 21-13 against Ireland and Lancaster has kept faith with a team that started and finished well, but struggled for periods in the middle of that game.

Wings Anthony Watson and Jonny May both scored tries that day and have been in electric form out wide, but with Fiji renowned for their attacking style and ability to cut loose when the game opens up, England may look to play a more conservative style than they did 10 days ago against the Irish.

Against Fiji Brad Barritt and Jonathan Joseph play together in the centre for the only the second time while hooker Tom Youngs, who has been less than perfect in the scrums and line-outs leading into the tournament, gets another chance to show that his work in the loose makes him worth his place in the starting XV.

England and Fiji are in a tough Pool A which also features Wales and Australia – four of the top nines sides in the world.

Former England captain Will Carling told BBC Radio 5 live it is “the hardest pool the World Cup has ever seen”.

He added: “I think there is huge pressure on England, it being the home World Cup for them.

“Part of the pressure is to deal with it and to stay calm, stay controlled and realise they have got four pool games, there is plenty of time and to start well.

“It’s important they start in a controlled, composed way, which will give them a lot of confidence.”


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