A chest injury to Jonathan Joseph will reportedly lead to a midfield reshuffle for England against Wales, with Sam Burgess set to start

An injury to Jonathan Joseph is likely to see Stuart Lancaster reshuffle his entire midfield for the clash against Wales on Saturday evening, with Sam Burgess set to start at inside centre.

Joseph, one of England’s most reliable players in 2015, has been sidelined by a rumoured  haematoma on the chest – an injury that backs coach Andy Farrell claims will not keep him out for more than a week.

Farrell’s son Owen is widely reported to be starting at fly-half in place of George Ford, in what must be a tactical replacement as the Bath man performed well against Fiji on Friday.

With Wales likely to run at the No 10 channel, particularly with centre Jamie Roberts, Stuart Lancaster must be keen to add some bulk in the midfield to ward off the attacks.

Saying that, Ford performed well against a similar onslaught in the opening night of the Six Nations as England upset Wales in Cardiff and will be disappointed to lose his place.

Calls for Henry Slade to replace Joseph at outside-centre are likely to be in vain as Lancaster looks set to move Brad Barritt along one place in the midfield, with Burgess lining up alongside the Saracens man.

The reshuffle affects more than just the midfield, with wingers Jonny May and Anthony Watson likely to have to come inside more throughout the game to get the ball, with the lack of pace in the centres.

Slade’s dynamism and kicking ability were key factors in his name being mooted for the position of outside-centre, whereas the Burgess/Barritt combination looks a little more restricted.

  • DaveHenson

    Good questions, Brewster and I think the make-up of the bench will show us the true intent.
    It may be that Slade is on the bench to come in as a tactical substitution if either things are not going to plan or (if they are going to plan) when the hard graft has been done in the first 50 minutes and his distribution will prove the change in tactics.
    It is usual to have 5 forwards and three backs on the bench, and one of these will be a scrum half substitution, so Wigglesworth and Slade (or Ford) with maybe Nowell or Goode to cover FullBack. My preference would be Wigglesworth-Slade-Nowell with unfortunately no place for Ford especially as Slade and Goode can cover fly half.

  • Brewster

    As a new rugby follower, does this mean Ford is just not starting? Can he be put in as a substitute? And does this mean he’s off the team for future games? THANKS!