‘Form centre’ can spark England

Date published: February 4 2015

England head coach Stuart Lancaster has described Bath centre Jonathan Joseph’s form as ‘outstanding’ ahead of facing Wales.

The 23-year-old will start at 13 in the absence of Manu Tuilagi, partnered in midfield by Northampton’s Luther Burrell.

The pair will be tasked with containing Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies in their first match together, but Joseph is excited about combining with fellow Bath backs George Ford and Anthony Watson.

“I’ve just been pushing myself to keep getting better so I was delighted when Stuart told me I was in,” Joseph told reporters.

“I’m pleased with the way we’ve gone at Bath and that the style we play gives us the chance to do things at pace.

“Obviously, with George (Ford) and Anthony (Watson) we know each other’s games well and we have a good understanding.

“But we also know that before we can think about exploiting any space we have to win that physical battle and that’s something we are all looking forward to.

“Having said that, when it’s on, we’ve got to go.”

Lancaster meanwhile believes Joseph has been the best centre in the Premiership this season. He also expressed little concern about using a new centre pairing in Cardiff.

“JJ has been outstanding for Bath in the last six months; he’s probably the form centre in the Premiership,” said Lancaster.

“Luther will also bring that physical presence on the gainline so I’m not that concerned about the relative lack of experience.

“Last year Luther and Billy Twelvetrees were relatively inexperienced but they acquitted themselves very well.”