Saints duo to start in England’s World Cup opener

Tom Wood and Courtney Lawes start against Fiji (picture: Linda Dawson)
Tom Wood and Courtney Lawes start against Fiji (picture: Linda Dawson)

Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood will start for England in Friday’s Rugby World Cup opener against Fiji.

Another Saints player, Kieran Brookes, will be on the bench at Twickenham.

England have named an unchanged squad from the one which beat Ireland in the final warm-up game earlier this month, with the exception of hooker Rob Webber, who replaces Jamie George on the bench.

Wood was man of the match in that 21-13 win at Twickenham, while Lawes also produced a strong display.

England will be desperate to get off to a fast start against the Fijians as Stuart Lancaster’s men face Wales and Australia respectively in their next two Pool A fixtures.

“The squad is massively excited to start the World Cup,” Lancaster said. “Everyone has worked incredibly hard over the last three months and we are ready.

“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.

“All the players have put their hand up in training and the internationals we have played this summer and we are blessed to have such a strong squad to select from against a skilful and powerful Fijian side.”

England (v Fiji, Twickenham Stadium, 8pm BST, Friday September 18, 2015)

15 Mike Brown (Harlequins, 39 caps)

14 Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 11 caps)

13 Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 13 caps)

12 Brad Barritt (Saracens, 23 caps)

11 Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 16 caps)

10 George Ford (Bath Rugby, 13 caps)

9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 49 caps)

1 Joe Marler (Harlequins, 33 caps)

2 Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 24 caps)

3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 52 caps)

4 Geoff Parling (Exeter Chiefs, 25 caps)

5 Courtney Lawes (Saints, 40 caps)

6 Tom Wood (Saints, 38 caps)

7 Chris Robshaw (capt, Harlequins, 39 caps)

8 Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby, 29 caps)

Replacements

16 Rob Webber (Bath Rugby, 13 caps)

17 Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 23 caps)

18 Kieran Brookes (Saints, 12 caps)

19 Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 24 caps)

20 Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 20 caps)

21 Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens, 23 caps)

22 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 31 caps)

23 Sam Burgess (Bath Rugby, 2 caps)