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England talking points

Published 10/08/2015

Latest rugby union news
Latest rugby union news

England play the first of three World Cup warm-up games when France visit Twickenham on Saturday.

Here, Press Association Sport examines the talking points surrounding the game.


After months of speculation and debate, England will finally learn whether their faith in the uncapped Burgess has been an ill-advised flight of fancy or the start of an international career that could project into the World Cup. Judgement awaits on Saturday night.


Centre Henry Slade, flanker Calum Clark and hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie will also be making their Test debuts, while lock George Kruis and prop Kieran Brookes have already been blooded but are inexperienced. All will be looking to force their way into the final 31-man squad and come the final whistle there will be winners and losers.


The star of England's autumn series last year broke his leg in January and appears to have won his race to be fit for the World Cup, resuming his place at number eight for the visit of France. The signs in training have been promising, but Morgan needs the Test environment to really prove he is on the right track.


The feeling persists that Lancaster will spring a surprise when he names his final World Cup squad, even if the options for a bolter to be included in the 31 are narrowing. Versatility could be the decisive factor in determining the last remaining slots, so Slade, who covers 10,12 and 13, and substitute fly-half/full-back Danny Cipriani, could both be the surprise picks.


The trio of World Cup warm-up games are a delicate balancing act for Lancaster, who must juggle the need to give players game time, examine fringe contenders and field his strongest team to build momentum for the tournament opener against Fiji on September 18. And against this backdrop they must win at the venue where all but one of their World Cup matches will be staged.

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