Rugby World Cup 2015: England unchanged for Fiji opener

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England ready to go - Lancaster
Rugby World Cup Pool A: England v Fiji
Venue: Twickenham Date: Friday, 18 September Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, with live text commentary online.

Hosts England will field an unchanged XV for Friday's opening match of the World Cup against Fiji (20:00 BST).

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".

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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.

BBC Radio 5 live rugby union reporter Chris Jones
"After the improved line-out against Ireland, Geoff Parling will be relied on to run things there for England once again. Ben Morgan's remarkable recovery from his broken leg continues with a start at number eight, while Brad Barritt and Jonathan Joseph will look to develop their fledgling partnership in the midfield.
"The likes of Billy Vunipola and Sam Burgess are among those charged with making an impact from the bench in the final 20 minutes, when England will be expected to pull away from the Fijians."

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, that will give them a lot of confidence."

England: Mike Brown (Harlequins); Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby), Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby), Brad Barritt (Saracens), Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby); George Ford (Bath Rugby); Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers); Joe Marler (Harlequins), Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Geoff Parling (Exeter Chiefs), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints), Chris Robshaw (capt, Harlequins), Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby).

Replacements: Rob Webber (Bath Rugby), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Kieran Brookes (Northampton Saints), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Sam Burgess (Bath Rugby).

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