Youngs brothers get chance to shine for England ahead of World Cup
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
Norfolk brothers Ben and Tom Youngs have been selected for England's penultimate World Cup warm-up match, against France in Paris on Saturday evening.
The big news was that head coach Stuart Lancaster has selected Luther Burrell and Jonathan Joseph at centres for the match, as the countdown to the tournament beginning entered its final month.
Lancaster has made 14 changes to the team that dispatched Les Blues 19-14 at Twickenham last weekend – only wing Jonny May survives – in a line-up that is close to his first choice starting XV.
There is no place among the 23 for Sam Burgess or Henry Slade even though they made fine Test debuts against France – a decision that will intensify speculation over their potential involvement at the World Cup.
Instead, Lancaster has opted for Danny Cipriani and Billy Twelvetrees on the bench for the last outing before the final 31-man squad for the global showpiece on home soil is announced by the August 31 deadline.
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Cipriani and Twelvetrees made substitute appearances at Twickenham but had little opportunity to shine in their quest to win selection at fly-half and full-back (Cipriani) and centre (Twelvetrees).
'Having reviewed last Saturday there were a lot of things we were pleased with considering it was the first game,' Lancaster said.
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'There is now an opportunity for those not involved or who didn't get much opportunity from the bench to put a marker down and build on that performance.'
For the Youngs brothers – who played junior rugby for both Holt and North Walsham – it is a strong indicator that the Leicester Tigers duo are both in line to start England's World Cup adventure, although both still face strong competition.
Scrum-half Ben is poised to win his 48th cap for his country and thought to be in possession of the number nine shirt after an excellent Six Nations campaign.
The 25-year-old is joined by both Richard Wigglesworth and Danny Care in the squad though and will need to be at his best to keep them at bay.
Elder brother Tom is the most experienced hooker in the squad, with 22 caps at the age of 28, following Dylan Hartley's ill-discipline leading to him being not selected.
Rob Webber earned his 12th cap when starting at Twickenham on Saturday and is expected to be cover for the 2013 Aviva Premiership Player of the Year winner, with Exeter's Luke Cowan-Dickie having made his debut from the bench in the victory over France and Saracens' Jamie George likely to be handed his debut from the bench at the Stade de France on Saturday.
'France will be even stronger at home and this will be a big test but these guys have been working hard for the opportunity and are desperate to go out and perform,' Lancaster continued. 'I'm delighted for Jamie George who hopefully gets his first cap and also Joe Launchbury, who has worked tirelessly and patiently to get back to fitness.
'It is a big couple of weeks ahead for all the 39-man squad with the game this weekend and some competitive training sessions to come this week and next as we look to narrow down the squad ahead of the World Cup.'