England's Luther Burrell under 'no extra pressure' against France

By Chris JonesBBC Radio 5 live rugby reporter
Luther Burrell
England centre Luther Burrell made his Test debut against France in 2014
France v England
Venue: Stade de France Date: Saturday 22 August Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live from 19:50 BST, highlights on BBC One from 23:40 BST

England centre Luther Burrell says he does not feel any extra pressure to perform against France this weekend, despite his place in the World Cup squad being under threat.

Henry Slade and Sam Burgess both impressed in the 19-14 victory at Twickenham last Saturday.

And England head coach Stuart Lancaster admits there will now be a "spotlight" on Burrell in Paris.

"I wouldn't say there is extra pressure," Burrell told BBC Sport.

"For me it's about controlling what I can control and that's performing well this weekend.

"The usual pressure is going to be there. It's a big Test match. The last thing I need is any added pressure.

"Burgess and Slade coming through is competition, it's healthy, and it's keeping everybody on their toes.

"Those boys had their opportunity on Saturday. It's our opportunity this weekend."

Burrell started every game of the 2015 Six Nations alongside Jonathan Joseph in the midfield and they are two of the six centres in the 39-man party, along with Brad Barritt, Billy Twelvetrees, Burgess and Slade.

Lancaster is likely to select four in his final 31-man World Cup squad and Burrell believes the competition for places in the midfield is more intense than in any other position.

"The competition within the centres is the greatest of the camp so far, and it's getting a lot of media attention.

"But as centres we are a close-knit group and we all support each other. All we can do is control what we can control and if I perform well this weekend it will put more pressure on the coaches to make those tough decisions," he continued.

Mike Brown
England's Mike Brown says he is "raring to go"

"But we are a united group and we will back each other all the way no matter what decision is made."

With less than one month to go until the opening game of the tournament, Burrell says the prospect of featuring in the global showpiece is providing huge motivation.

"It would be the biggest thing to happen to me if I make that team, I'm not shy about speaking about that.

"It would be a huge honour and one that I would be privileged to be part of."

Meanwhile full-back Mike Brown has declared himself "raring to go" as he prepares to play his first game since March following his concussion problems.

"Playing rugby is what I love to do, what I feel I was born to do," he told BBC Sport.

"So I'm just looking forward to getting back out there and I will definitely enjoy it."

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