Burgess named on bench for England opener

Code-hopper Sam Burgess has missed out on a starting spot in England’s Rugby World Cup opener against Fiji at Twickenham on Friday.

The former South Sydney NRL superstar has been named on the replacement bench by coach Stuart Lancaster, who has selected the same side that defeated Ireland in the squad’s final warm-up fixture earlier this month.

Lancaster has opted for more the experienced centre pairing of Brad Barritt and Jonathan Joseph.

Scrum-half Ben Youngs will make his 50th appearance alongside brother Tom who’ll start at hooker.

“I’d like to congratulate Ben Youngs on his achievement,” said Lancaster.

“To win 50 caps for your country in such a relatively short period of time is testament to Ben’s dedication and commitment.”

Lancaster, who took over the post after Martin Johnson’s calamitous World Cup campaign in New Zealand four years ago, said all the signs were positive as England bid to land the trophy for the second time, and also go one better than the last time the English hosted the tournament when they lost to Australia in the 1991 final.

“The squad is massively excited to start the World Cup,” said Lancaster.

“Everyone has worked incredibly hard over the last three months and we are ready.

“All the players have put their hand up in training and the internationals we have played this summer and we are blessed to have such a strong squad to select from against a skilful and powerful Fijian side.

“The support of a nation is behind the team. 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: Mike Brown; Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Brad Barritt, Jonny May; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Ben Morgan, Chris Robshaw (capt), Tom Wood; Courtney Lawes, Geoff Parling; Dan Cole, Tom Youngs, Joe Marler.

Replacements: Rob Webber, Mako Vunipola, Kieran Brookes, Joe Launchbury, Billy Vunipola, Richard Wigglesworth, Owen Farrell, Sam Burgess.

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