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Luther Burrell ready to put his body on the line for England in Australia

Published 30/05/2016

George Ford struggled with the boot but England beat Wales nevertheless
George Ford struggled with the boot but England beat Wales nevertheless

Luther Burrell is ready for the "big collisions" that await in Australia as he targets a starting role as England's midfield battering ram for the first Test against the Wallabies.

Burrell has been chosen ahead of Ollie Devoto to replace the injured Manu Tuilagi in the 32-man squad that heads Down Under on Tuesday following a try-scoring performance in the 27-13 victory over Wales at Twickenham

The Brisbane opener on Saturday week is now a realistic objective for Burrell, who could be the beneficiary if head coach Eddie Jones drops the underperforming George Ford in favour of moving Owen Farrell from inside centre to fly-half.

Uncapped rugby league convert Ben Te'o and rookie Henry Slade are the alternatives at 12, giving Burrell hope of making the second appearance of his Test comeback since being controversially omitted from the squad for last autumn's World Cup.

If Jones opts for the 28-year-old Saint, his primary role will be to use his strength to punch holes in the Wallabies' defence.

"Against Wales you could see soon as we get on the front-foot, we want to pound the gainline," Burrell said.

"You are putting your body on the line, you are going to take collisions and some of the contacts against Wales were massive.

"We know that with the back-row Australia have, we are going to take some big collisions. It's a high tempo, high intensity game plan that we want to have in place.

"It was fantastic to get back for England. I'm going to enjoy every moment and opportunity I get.

"Eddie he will be picking the players who are performing and training best. I will continue working hard, keep grounded and work closely with the coaches and grasp any opportunity I can get."

Burrell was omitted from the first squad named by Jones in January on the grounds of being "grossly overweight", so while England were completing their first Grand Slam since 2003 he began shedding the 8kgs demanded by the Australian.

"The beauty of Eddie is that he's a very honest bloke. If you're not pulling your weight then he won't beat around the bush, he will tell you," Burrell said.

"He's been in constant contact with me. He's been brilliant with me and my development.

"He's a fantastic bloke and the way we want to play, we want to be at the highest intensity and taking teams to a place they don't really like."

England land in Australia on Wednesday evening and will spend the following week acclimatising on the Gold Coast before moving to Brisbane for the first Test against the beaten World Cup finalists.

"It's going to be a very tough challenge, England have won three in 17 games over there. It's a huge challenge, we're under no illusions about that, but we're in a brilliant position," Burrell said.

"Coming off the back of the Six Nations and the good performance against Wales, we have some momentum behind us but we need to work hard and play better if we are going to stand a chance of beating Australia.

"We are going to have to work hard, the boys are going to have to dig deep to get some victories over there, but we are quietly confident."

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