England announce team for Rugby World Cup opener
England announce team for Rugby World Cup opener

Tournament hosts England have unveiled their side to play in the Rugby World Cup opener, which gets underway on Friday evening at Twickenham

Stuart Lancaster has made an extremely strong selection for the game against Fiji, which is the first game in the toughest World Cup pool in history. 

As well as facing the Pacific Islanders, England will also battle it out with Australia and Wales, with just two sides reaching the knockout stages.

After a poor showing four years ago, the Fijians have come improved markedly over the past 12 months, and will play a huge part in the outcome of this pool. 

Parling retains spot as lineout leader

After a couple of poor showings against France, England's lineout was under severe scrutiny ahead of the world's biggest sporting event of the year. 

Veteran Geoff Parling is seen as a leader of the lineout, and his inclusion against Ireland helped trigger an improved performance at the set piece.

It is believed that Lancaster would prefer to play Courtney Lawes and Joe Lauchbury together as his desired second-row pairing, yet Parling's command of the lineout has seen his inclusion at the hands of Wasp, Launchbury. 

Parling's nouse and experience could be crucial once tournament starts, where nothing less than a win matters, and the impact Launchbury will bring from the bench should be a massive fillip for the England pack. 

Morgan beats off Vunipola for eight jersey

Having recovered from a horrific leg-break which looked to have curtailed his World Cup hopes, Gloucester number eight Ben Morgan has beaten off competition from Billy Vunipola to start on opening night. 

Just like with Launchbury, Vunipola will be a huge impact off the bench should Lancaster bring him on at any point, whilst there is also room for league-convert Sam Burgess in the 23. 

The only change to the matchday squad from the win over Ireland in the final warm-up game is the inclusion of hooker Rob Webber on the bench, in place of Jamie George

England team to face Fiji:

  1. Joe Marler
  2. Tom Youngs
  3. Dan Cole
  4. Geoff Parling
  5. Courtney Lawes
  6. Tom Wood
  7. Chris Robshaw (captain)
  8. Ben Morgan
  9. Ben Youngs
  10. George Ford
  11. Jonny May
  12. Brad Barritt
  13. Jonathan Joseph
  14. Anthony Watson
  15. Mike Brown

Subs: 16. Rob Webber, 17. Mako Vunipola, 18. Kieran Brookes, 19. Joe Launchbury, 20. Billy Vunipola, 21. Richard Wigglesworth, 22. Owen Farrell, 23. Sam Burgess