Six Nations
England hand Joseph start against Wales
ESPN Staff
February 4, 2015

Jonathan Joseph will make his first competitive start since 2013 for England on Friday after being named at outside centre for the Six Nations opener against Wales in Cardiff.

Joseph partners Luther Burrell in the centres with Danny Cipriani and Nick Easter both named on the bench. Dan Cole starts at tight-head in place of the injured Dave Wilson while James Haskell and George Kruis are both handed starts.

For Joseph, his inclusion comes off the back of a remarkable season in which he has scored six tries for Bath. Stuart Lancaster previously hailed him as "outstanding" and he is relishing the chance to see him in a Test match environment on Friday.

Easter's recall to the matchday squad is likely to see him win his first England cap since the infamous 2011 Rugby World Cup campaign. Since Lancaster took over England on the original interim basis in 2012, Easter has been cast into the international wilderness but Ben Morgan's injury has seen the veteran Harlequins No.8 brought back in the from the cold and he takes his spot among the replacements with Billy Vunipola starting.

Cipriani has also been handed a recall to the matchday squad having missed the autumn internationals with George Ford, Owen Farrell and Stephen Myler higher in the pecking order. But like Easter, his form has proven it impossible for Lancaster to overlook him and he takes his place on the bench alongside Richard Wigglesworth and Billy Twelvetrees.

Tom Croft could also make his first England appearance since 2013 as his versatility to cover the second-row and back-row sees him preferred to Graham Kitchener among the replacements.

"We've had to make some tight calls but we are excited about the side selected for what will be a big challenge," Lancaster said. "JJ has been one of the form centres in the country. He and Luther have trained well together and this is a big opportunity for both of them.

"Billy Vunipola has also been playing well for Saracens and it's good to be able to give George Kruis his first international start after his impressive run off the bench in November. Dan Cole and James Haskell bring a lot of experience, as do the bench, and their contribution will be crucial on Friday night."

For England it will be their first trip back to Cardiff since they crashed to the 30-3 defeat which saw their 2013 Grand Slam hopes quashed by a rampant Wales team who went on to secure the title that year.


Mike Brown, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Luther Burrell, Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole, Dave Attwood, George Kruis, James Haskell, Chris Robshaw (captain), Billy Vunipola

Replacements: Tom Youngs, Mako Vunipola, Kieran Brookes, Tom Croft, Nick Easter, Richard Wigglesworth, Danny Cipriani, Billy Twelvetrees

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