Jonathan Joseph
Jonathan Joseph and Brad Barritt will start a match as England's first-choice centre pairing for the very first time Getty

England welcome Ireland to Twickenham later on today in what will be the final warm-up test before their home Rugby World Cup campaign begins against Fiji at the same venue on Friday 18 September.

Where to watch

Kick-off is at 2.30pm BST on Saturday 5 September. Live coverage is available on Sky Sports HD1 and BBC Radio Five Live. BBC One will show highlights at 6pm.


With squads now confirmed and just two weeks remaining before the big kick-off, this clash is the last chance for head coaches Stuart Lancaster and Joe Schmidt to see their respective sides in action before the World Cup finally gets under way.

England split their two-match series against France last month, with two tries from Anthony Watson and one from Jonny May securing a 19-14 victory on home soil. The latter test in Paris was an entirely different affair, however, with ill-discipline the key concern during a 25-20 loss that featured five successful penalties from Scott Spedding and Frédéric Michalak before a late fightback orchestrated by Jonathan Joseph and Danny Cipriani.

Lancaster has made five changes ahead of this weekend, with the now-departed Luther Burrell replaced at inside centre by defensive captain Brad Barritt. The match against Ireland will mark the first time that Joseph and Barritt will have started a game together in midfield ahead of the World Cup.

Elsewhere, lock Geoff Parling and Northampton back-row forward Tom Wood replace Joe Launchbury and James Haskell as England look to fix their increasingly worrying problems at set pieces. Watson returns to the left flank in place of Jack Nowell, while Ben Morgan starts ahead of Billy Vunipola at number eight. Sam Burgess, selected ahead of the more established Burrell for Lancaster's final squad, is on the bench instead of Henry Slade.

As for Ireland, Schmidt has also named a very strong side as he seeks to avenge the 16-10 defeat suffered at home to Wales in Dublin on 29 August. Simon Zebo begins at full-back, Tommy Bowe comes onto the right wing and Ulster centre Jared Payne is back alongside Robbie Henshaw at the expense of Luke Fitzgerald.

Devin Toner is recalled to start at lock, with captain Paul O'Connell retaining his place in the side despite Schmidt admitting his intention to rest the 35-year-old who will retire from international rugby after the World Cup and join reigning European champions Toulon. Rory Best and Mike Ross are back in Ireland's front-row and Sean O'Brien replaces Jordi Murphy at openside flanker. Loosehead prop Cian Healy has been selected for the World Cup, but his lack of match sharpness after shoulder surgery means he will not have played a minute of Ireland's warm-up matches.

Paul O'Connell
Paul O'Connell will lead Ireland at Twickenham despite Joe Schmidt considering resting his captain Getty


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

Replacements: 16. Jamie George; 17. Mako Vunipola; 18. Kieran Brookes; 19. Joe Launchbury; 20. Billy Vunipola; 21. Richard Wigglesworth; 22. Owen Farrell; 23. Sam Burgess

Ireland: 15. Simon Zebo; 14. Tommy Bowe; 13. Jared Payne; 12. Robbie Henshaw; 11. Dave Kearney; 10. Jonathan Sexton; 9. Conor Murray; 1. Jack McGrath; 2. Rory Best; 3. Mike Ross; 4. Devin Toner; 5. Paul O'Connell (C); 6. Peter O'Mahony; 7. Sean O'Brien; 8. Jamie Heaslip

Replacements: 16. Richardt Strauss; 17. Tadhg Furlong; 18. Nathan White; 19. Donnacha Ryan; 20. Chris Henry; 21. Eoin Reddan; 22. Ian Madigan; 23. Darren Cave

What the coaches say

Stuart Lancaster: "[The lineout] is very important. Ireland have improved their scrum and their lineout and maul has always been very strong. Paul O'Connell runs their lineout and Geoff knows him well from the Lions. That'll be a really good battle for forward domination. The breakdown is another key area that we need to do well in. Ireland are very strong there and they have a talented backline. But we do as well, so it's be a good match-up.

"From an individual point of view, every member of England's match-day 23 has plenty at stake. For those among the replacements – hooker Jamie George and prop Mako Vunipola, for example – there is scope to climb the pecking order.

"We'll learn a lot about our players this weekend and we're looking forward to it. We went into the Six Nations without a lot of these players playing. A lot of them were injured. Ben Morgan was, Joe Launchbury was, Tom Wood was, Brad Barritt was, Owen Farrell was. Courtney Lawes didn't play. There are a lot of high-quality players who are all fit now. We look forward to seeing them play and I think it'll be a great game."

Joe Schmidt: "We are looking for steps forward. I think the players are too competitive not to want to actually get the result at the end of it. A result gives confidence and it gives momentum and I'm sure that Stu and his lads feel the same way. One of the great things about playing England is that they are a really positive team. They are a very combative team, but very positive.

"They keep their scrum up and they will ensure that platform is played either side of the ball. They will be very competitive and chase us at lineouts as we will hopefully do to them. They are so physical defensively, it's a massive challenge for us. It's going to be really good pressure for us to see if we can play under that heat."