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England’s Jonathan Joseph set to replace Sam Burgess for crucial Australia clash

Sam Burgess is set to be omitted from England’s starting line-up for Saturday’s must-win World Cup game, with a fit-again Jonathan Joseph returning to the midfield as the head coach Stuart Lancaster makes changes to his back division for a third successive match.

It is understood Joseph has made a swifter-than-anticipated recovery from a chest injury and will line up alongside Brad Barritt in the centre against Australia.Owen Farrell is also poised to retain his place at fly-half, with Burgess reverting to the bench in the wake of last Saturday’s 28-25 defeat to Wales.

Joseph and Barritt started together against Fiji in the opening game of the tournament but George Ford was selected at No10.

With Billy Vunipola out of the tournament and Courtney Lawes still struggling with a knee injury, Ben Morgan will return at number eight and Joe Launchbury will start his first World Cup match in the second-row. England, though, are still waiting on the fitness of Ben Youngs, who has been unable to train fully since hurting an ankle against Wales.

Burgess is set to replace Alex Goode on the bench, with the Saracens lock George Kruis filling the second-row vacancy on the bench. The rest of the starting line-up is likely to be unchanged for a game that will define England’s World Cup future. If Wales beat Fiji in Cardiff on Thursday, they will have to beat the Wallabies to remain in the tournament.

Inside their World Cup camp, England’s coaches have urged their players to block out the “white noise” of external criticism as they prepare for Saturday’s do-or-die clash.

The 2003 World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward called the side “amateurs” while the former captain Will Carling accused Lancaster of creating a “classroom” environment that treated players like “schoolboys” and left them unable to think for themselves.

Amid growing signs that England are adopting a bunker mentality in the face of unprecedented pressure at their home World Cup Mike Catt, the attacking skills coach, insisted they would not let external criticism derail them.

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“If you get concerned about external effects you are not in a good place and lose focus about what your job is,” said Catt, who was capped 75 times by England and was part of the 2003 World Cup-winning squad. “Our job is to beat Australia, not to worry about criticism from ex-players or whatever. For us it’s external white noise that is totally irrelevant to what we need to do as a team.”

Despite speculation as to how Lancaster would reshuffle his side given ongoing injury concerns, the Rugby Football Union refused to provide updates before the team is named . The Bath centre Joseph arrived to train in full kit on a mountain bike but sat out the opening portion of session that could be observed by the media.

Joseph, the current England player of the year, could be seen hiding behind a curtain in the RFU’s training complex at Pennyhill Park yesterday, waiting for the media caravan to depart. The Leicesterscrum-half Youngs was also expected to take part in the hope that his ankle is recovered in time for Saturday, with Richard Wigglesworth ready to step in if he does not.

“Our focus is beating Australia. Like last week, it’s a must win. We’re massively excited,” said Catt. “The fact we’ve got Australia at Twickenham. It’s going to be an exciting match and everything is on this one game.”

Asked twice about Carling, who on Tuesday released a new video clip to justify his earlier criticism, Catt reiterated: “It’s external white noise that is irrelevant to us beating Australia.”

Source: https://www.theguardian.com

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