By Jonathan Davies

Stuart Lancaster has opted for Luther Burrell and Jonathan Joseph to form a new-look midfield in England's Six Nations opener against Wales on Friday.

Dan Cole starts at tighthead prop while Leicester Tigers teammates Tom Youngs and Tom Croft, as well as Saracens loosehead Mako Vunipola, are included among the replacements.

All four played some part in England's 30-3 defeat at the same venue two years ago and will be itching to set the record straight.

Lock George Kruis and blindside flanker James Haskell replace injured Northampton Saints duo Tom Wood and Courtney Lawes.

Burrell and Joseph form the centre partnership in an otherwise unchanged set of backs. Ben Youngs, George Ford, Jonny May, Anthony Watson and Mike Brown are all retained by Stuart Lancaster.

Nick Easter of Harlequins and Sale Sharks talisman Danny Cipriani are also rewarded for excellent club form with places on the bench.

England Head Coach Lancaster said: "We've had to make some tight calls but we are excited about the side selected for what will be a big challenge.

"JJ has been one of the form centres in the country. He and Luther have trained well together and this is a big opportunity for both of them.

"Billy Vunipola has also been playing well for Saracens and it's good to be able to give George Kruis his first international start after his impressive run off the bench in November.

"Dan Cole and James Haskell bring a lot of experience, as do the bench, and their contribution will be crucial on Friday night.”

Starting XV

Backs: Mike Brown (Harlequins), Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby), Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby), Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints), Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby), George Ford (Bath Rugby), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).

Forwards: Joe Marler (Harlequins), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), David Attwood (Bath Rugby), George Kruis (Saracens), James Haskell (Wasps), Chris Robshaw (captain, Harlequins), Billy Vunipola (Saracens).

Replacements: Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), Nick Easter (Harlequins), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby).

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