Stuart Lancaster has accepted his entire England tenure could rest on Saturday’s decisive World Cup clash with Australia.
The coach has restored fit-again Jonathan Joseph to the centres at the expense of Sam Burgess, who drops to the bench, for the pivotal Pool A contest at Twickenham.
Lancaster conceded England must win to avoid the earliest exit of any World Cup hosts in history, before shouldering extra pressure on his own future.
When asked on Thursday if his entire time with England hangs on this week following the 28-25 defeat to Wales, Lancaster said: “I think that’s fair to say.”
“It’s a must-win game because if we lose we don’t get out of the group. So there’s no point hiding where the accountability lies,” he said.
“As a head coach you don’t take the players beyond Saturday, you take them to Saturday. You put them in the right place to play a strong game on Saturday.
“There’s no denying it, the stakes are huge for us, but the boys will be ready.”
Lancaster said he wasn’t looking beyond Saturday.
“You can’t spend your time thinking about what’s happened in the past or what might happen in the future. If you distract yourself with the what-ifs then you aren’t doing your job.
“It was a big blow to lose Jonathan Joseph last week, he’s hard to replace. To have him back in the team is a real positive.
“I still had my fingers crossed in the fitness test yesterday, but he’s ready to play.”
Joseph has recovered from the pectoral muscle problem that kept him out of last weekend’s crushing loss to Wales just in time to resume his midfield partnership with Brad Barritt.
Barritt steps back into the 12 shirt, after criticism for his errant showing at outside centre against Wales.
Owen Farrell starts again at five-eighth, with Ben Morgan slotting in at No.8.
Joe Launchbury partners Geoff Parling at lock, with halfback Ben Youngs fit to continue after an ankle knock.
Nick Easter is on the bench in favour of James Haskell, with George Kruis covering lock from the replacements for England.