England urge Luther Burrell to stake his claim for a central role

Test against France a vital opportunity to seal a coveted place in World Cup squad

Mike Catt has urged Luther Burrell to solve England's World Cup "centre dilemma" when England face France in Paris today.

The midfield is proving the greatest headache for the England management as they attempt to whittle down their options in the position from six to the four slots available in the 31-man squad for the global showpiece.

Burrell will reprise his Six Nations axis with Jonathan Joseph amid a demand from head coach Stuart Lancaster that he produce a "big performance" to see off his rivals.

Joseph and Brad Barritt are guaranteed their World Cup places and Sam Burgess looks set to be included, leaving Burrell, Henry Slade and Billy Twelvetrees to fill the final slot. Burrell has been given his audition at the Stade de France where he will lock horns with France's Wesley Fofana and Mathieu Bastareaud and Catt wants to see the powerful Northampton Saint seize the chance.


Good stuff

“We’re looking for some good stuff from Luther – we just want Luther to be Luther. No one understands the centre dilemma better than Luther,” said England’s attacking skills coach.

“The dilemma is simple – six into four won’t go, or maybe seven (outhalf Owen Farrell) into four won’t go. When you have the likes of Henry Slade and Sam Burgess playing so well on their debuts, it definitely heightens the decision.

“And it’s up to us to make the right decision and get a good balance, both at centre and throughout the rest of the team. Luther had a very good Six Nations and played exceptionally well alongside Joseph. We scored some very good tries in that tournament and hopefully they can rekindle the fire they had in that competition.

“It’s their opportunity to go and shine. It’s tough coming to France and playing against the likes of Fofana and Bastareaud, but they’ve played against them before.”

French side

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has picked a strong pack that is close to first choice in the hope of outmuscling England.

Les Bleus lost 19-14 at Twickenham last weekend yet still left an impression on Stuart Lancaster’s side, particularly in the final quarter. They fell just short with a late drive when substitute prop Uini Atonio dropped the ball with the whitewash seemingly at his mercy and Saint-Andre wants greater accuracy against what is a near full-strength Red Rose pack.

Louis Picamoles, France's most destructive player last week keeps his place at number eight while lock Pascal Pape captains the side.