England name team for World Cup opener against Tonga

Manu Tuilagi named at outside centre
Manu Tuilagi named at outside centre

England coach Eddie Jones has named a full-strength side for the Rugby World Cup opener against Tonga that kicks-off in Sapporo on Sunday.

George Ford returns to fly-half with skipper Owen Farrell starting at inside centre and Manu Tuilagi at outside centre. Ben Youngs is set to feature in his 90th Test for England after being the preferred scrum-half.

Elliot Daly will take position at fullback with Anthony Watson and Jonny May at right and left wings respectively with Joe Cokanasiga missing out despite recovering from a knee injury.

Farrell will form centre partnership with Manu Tuilagi. Billy Vunipola retains the number eight spot with Tom Curry and Sam Underhill being the flankers. The second row comprises of Courtney Lawes and Maro Itoje and with Mako Vunipola closing on a return following a hamstring injury, Joe Marler is a part of front row that also has Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler.

"The focus this week has been about getting right for Tonga. We have had a good seven days in Japan where we have acclimatised really well, our sleep patterns are good and the physical conditioning of the players is outstanding," said Jones.

"We have been able to add a bit more on our team togetherness and cohesion too.

“Now it is about putting in a game plan against Tonga and it is important to be tactically right. We know they are going to be ferocious and full of pride and passion.

"They are a side if they get a bit of momentum they can be very dangerous and are well-coached by Toutai Kefu. They have a great World Cup record and we will need to be at our best on Sunday.

“I don’t think there is anyone who isn’t excited about getting out there on Sunday and there is a good feeling around the place.

"We are delighted to be up here in Sapporo and to play at the stadium will be a unique experience for us and something the team is looking forward to.”

England starting XV: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Manu Tuilagi , 12 Owen Farrell (c), 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford , 9 Ben Youngs ; 1 Joe Marler, 2 Jamie George, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 Courtney Lawes, 5 Maro Itoje, 6 Tom Curry, 7 Sam Underhill, 8 Billy Vunipola

Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Dan Cole, 19 George Kruis , 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Jonathan Joseph

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