Rugby World Cup 2015: 'No panic' as England drop Ford for Wales

Sam Burgess, Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola
Burgess, Farrell and Vunipola will all get their chance to impress on Saturday
Rugby World Cup Pool A: England v Wales
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 26 September Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live, plus live coverage on the BBC Sport website.

England head coach Stuart Lancaster says he has not panicked by replacing fly-half George Ford with Owen Farrell for Saturday's game with Wales.

Ford, 22, started last week's 35-11 World Cup Pool A win over Fiji, but Farrell impressed off the bench.

Sam Burgess has been selected at inside centre after Jonathan Joseph was ruled out with a chest injury.

"I don't think putting an in-form and confident Owen Farrell into the team is a risk," said Lancaster.

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Billy Vunipola comes in at number eight for Ben Morgan, who has a knee injury, while James Haskell and Alex Goode step up to the bench.

Lancaster's decision to drop Ford has been heavily criticised, with ex-Scotland captain Gavin Hastings saying the hosts have "panicked". Toby Flood, who won 60 caps for England from 2006 to 2013, believes the Bath player has every right to feel "pretty devastated".

"George hasn't done a huge amount wrong and I could see why he potentially was a little bit upset with the decision," Flood told Kicca.external-link

Clean breaks graphic

Ford played every game of this year's Six Nations, while Saracens number 10 Farrell, 24, missed the tournament with a knee injury.

"There's definitely no panic," said Lancaster of his selection.

"Owen wasn't available in the Six Nations and George was fantastic. We're fortunate to have two high-quality players in that position."

Rugby league convert Burgess, 26, has just three caps for World Cup hosts England, but was chosen ahead of Henry Slade to partner Brad Barritt in midfield.

Sam Burgess v Jamie Roberts

"People said it was a gamble to put Sam into the 31-man squad. Day by day, week by week he has proven people wrong," said Lancaster.

"It's a big game for Sam but I think he's more than proven over the last three months he's capable of playing at this level.

"He hasn't got the international rugby union experience, but he has the big-game experience."

Burgess brushed off the conjecture surrounding his inclusion, saying: "It's their opinion. I believe in myself. I feel like I've got the respect of my team-mates and the staff here. That's what really counts."

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Bath centre Joseph, 24, injured his chest against Fiji and England attack coach Andy Farrell said the injury was "nothing too serious" and would probably keep him out for "not more than a week", though it is understood he is a significant doubt for the match with Australia on 3 October.

Joseph scored four tries in England's Six Nations campaign this year and is one of the most dangerous runners in England's backline.

After facing Wales, England play Australia, followed by Uruguay on 10 October, with the top two teams from the group progressing to the quarter-finals.


England: Mike Brown; Anthony Watson, Brad Barritt, Sam Burgess, Jonny May, Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs; Joe Marler, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, Chris Robshaw, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Rob Webber, Mako Vunipola, Kieran Brookes, Joe Launchbury, James Haskell, Richard Wigglesworth, George Ford, Alex Goode.

Match stats

England v Wales
  • England are aiming for three straight victories over Wales for the first time since 2011.
  • England have lost two of their last five Tests at Twickenham against Wales but prior to that won 10 in a row against their rivals at their historic home.
  • Wales have scored a try in each of their last 17 World Cup games, only New Zealand (20) have recorded a longer run.

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