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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Jonathan Joseph ready for Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies in baptism of fire in Wales

Jonathan Joseph
Jonathan Joseph

As a first taste of the Six Nations it does not get much tougher than facing Wales and their Lions duo of Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies in Cardiff but England centre Jonathan Joseph is unfazed.

Joseph has been in and around the England set up for three years, winning six caps against South Africa, Argentina and, in a famous Twickenham victory in 2012, New Zealand.

Yet, having been named in Stuart Lancaster's side for tomorrow night's match at the Millennium Stadium, it will be his first involvement in the northern hemisphere's elite competition.

Joseph will line up outside Luther Burrell after injuries to Manu Tuilagi, Brad Barritt and Kyle Eastmond somewhat forced Lancaster's hand but, such has been his dazzling form for Bath this season that he was pressing for inclusion anyway.

"JJ has been outstanding for Bath in the last six months; he's probably the form centre in the Premiership," Lancaster told reporters on Wednesday.

"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," he added of England's Twickenham win after being reminded that Friday's Welsh centres boast 107 caps compared with the 13 of England's duo.

England fans will certainly welcome Joseph's inclusion, hoping he will bring some of the pace and panache that has helped fire Bath to their best season for years but has too often been missing from England's midfield.

"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."

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