Saints duo set to feature in England's World Cup opener

Courtney Lawes starts for England against Tonga
Courtney Lawes starts for England against Tonga

Two Saints players have been named in England's matchday squad for the World Cup opener against Tonga in Sapporo on Sunday (kick-off 11.45am UK time).

Courtney Lawes lines up in the second row, while Lewis Ludlam is set to make an appearance from the bench.

But there is no place in the 23 for Piers Francis.

Owen Farrell will captain England at inside centre with George Ford starting at 10.

Manu Tuilagi is named at outside centre with Elliot Daly, Jonny May and Anthony Watson making up the back three.

England’s most capped scrum-half Ben Youngs will start in his 90th match for his country.

England boss Jones has selected Joe Marler, Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler in the front row with Lawes and Maro Itoje chosen as the lock pairing.

Tom Curry will start at blindside flanker with Sam Underhill at open while Billy Vunipola is named at number 8.

Jones said: “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.

"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 (Saracens, 33 caps)

14 Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 36 caps)

13 Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 35 caps)

12 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 73 caps) C

11 Jonny May (Leicester Tigers, 47 caps)

10 George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 59 caps)

9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 89 caps)

1 Joe Marler (Harlequins, 62 caps)

2 Jamie George (Saracens, 40 caps)

3 Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 25 caps)

4 Courtney Lawes (Saints, 75 caps)

5 Maro Itoje (Saracens, 29 caps)

6 Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 13 caps)

7 Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 10 caps)

8 Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 45 caps)

Finishers

16 Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 15 caps)

17 Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 12 caps )

18 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 89 caps)

19 George Kruis (Saracens, 35 caps)

20 Lewis Ludlam (Saints, 2 caps)

21 Willi Heinz (Gloucester Rugby, 4 caps)

22 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 22 caps)

23 Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 42 caps)