Sam Burgess to replace injured Jonathan Joseph while Owen Farrell replaces axed George Ford as Stuart Lancaster rings changes for Wales.

In the single most radical upheaval of Stuart Lancaster’s time in charge,England have ripped up their midfield for the crucial World Cup pool game against Wales by dropping George Ford for Owen Farrell, starting Sam Burgess at inside centre for the first time in a high-profile test match and switching Brad Barritt to outside centre in place of the injured Jonathan Joseph.


The stakes were already high for this weekend. They have risen considerably with this selection which will not be officially disclosed until Thursday.

Ford’s demotion is a shock. It would seem to be a reaction to the pressing issue of dealing with Wales’ full-frontal approach as well as the unfortunate injury to Joseph, their top try-scorer from this year’s Six Nations Championship, who has been ruled out with a pectoral injury that might yet threaten his participation against Australia the following week. The desire for width and variety has been replaced by a stern, muscle-bound line-up. England have opted for the full-metal jacket approach, spooked perhaps by the physicality of the Fijians last Friday.

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