Lancaster set to trial first-choice centre pairing

 
Ross McLean
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Brad Barritt will start on Saturday (Source: Getty)
England head coach Stuart Lancaster is set to run the rule over his expected first-choice centre pairing for the Rugby World Cup after naming Brad Barritt in his side to face Ireland in the QBE International at Twickenham on Saturday.

Barritt has shrugged off the calf injury which has ruled him out of England’s previous two warm-up clashes and has been named at inside centre alongside Jonathan Joseph – the first time the duo will have started together at Test level.

Injuries have prevented Barritt playing for England since November and the clash with Australia, while the Barritt-Joseph axis will be the 13th different centre partnership of the Lancaster era.

Lancaster has also opted to field George Ford at fly-half to complete what is likely to be England’s preferred midfield trio for the opening clash of the World Cup against Fiji on 18 September.

Rugby league convert Sam Burgess will provide cover from the bench, while Anthony Watson returns to the wing and second row Geoff Parling, flanker Tom Wood and No8 Ben Morgan have been handed starts.

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