Jonathan Joseph determined to seize England chance at World Cup

Jonathan Joseph is determined to seize his opportunity when he spearheads England's quest for World Cup glory on home soil. Joseph will form a starting centre partnership with Brad Barritt for the first time in the final warm-up match against Ireland at Twickenham knowing it will be the preferred midfield axis for the tournament's opening clash with Fiji.

The 24-year-old was the star of England's RBS 6 Nations campaign, celebrating his return to the side by scoring four tries in five games, and now he is among the first names on the team sheet. "We've just got to stay focused and not let this moment slip by. It's a great opportunity, a home World Cup, so I want to make sure I make the most of it," he said.

Jonathan Joseph is among the first names on England's team sheet
Jonathan Joseph, playing for England against Italy

Vunipola says World Cup training camp in Denver was torture

Rugby forward Mako Vunipola insists that England’s training camp in Denver was so tortuous that he began reconsidering his future in rugby. The World Cup hosts spent two weeks at altitude in Colorado last month to sharpen their conditioning for the global showpiece on home soil next month. Vunipola has the opportunity to display the benefits of a gruelling summer on the training field when he plays in the two fixtures against France.

England prop Vunipola has spoken of the intensity endured by Stuart Lancaster’s squad in the United States. “There were a few times during the Denver training camp when I did have to question why I wanted to play this sport,” the loosehead prop said. “You had to dig in and it was one of the hardest sessions I have known. It was a bit like torture but you had to go into survival mode and grind on. Now we are all excited because it’s the rugby time.”

England’s clash with France is a double-header as preparations step up ahead of the start of the showpiece tournament when England takes on Fiji at Twickenham on September 18. With nothing left to chance with their conditioning, former England fly half Rob Andrew has challenged Stuart Lancaster’s squad to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy on home soil. Andrew was part of the England squad which reached the final of the 1991 World Cup, when the tournament was last played in Britain.

Mako Vunipola takes on the French pack at Twickenham
Vunipola with ball in hand for England

Lancaster insists Burgess is not guaranteed a spot

Sam Burgess1 playing for England
Luther Burrell (right), join Jonathan Joseph (left) Lancaster's squad

England’s head coach, Stuart Lancaster, is close to choosing his preferred quartet of centres for the World Cup but will leave it as late as possible to make a final decision. Luther Burrell and Jonathan Joseph will start in the warm-up match against France in Paris with Billy Twelvetrees set to make a second-half appearance from the bench. Of the three, only Joseph is certain to be involved at the World Cup with Brad Barritt, who has a calf problem, also guaranteed a place in the 31-man squad that must be named by August 31.

Slugging it out for the two remaining spots are Burrell, Twelvetrees, Sam Burgess and Henry Slade. Stuart Lancaster has demanded a big performance from Burrell, who will play himself into the final 31-man squad if he delivers at the Stade de France in the second of England’s three warm-up games, while outsider Twelvetrees has been given another chance to come off the bench and play himself into a spot.

Jodie Broughton becomes latest Catalans signing

Jodie Broughton is Catalans' sixth new signing for 2016
Huddersfield Giants' winger, Jodie Broughton

Catalans Dragons have signed the Huddersfield winger, Jodie Broughton, on a two-year contract from the start of the 2016 season. Broughton is Catalans’ sixth new signing for 2016 and the 27-year-old England Knights player, a product of the Leeds academy who was Super League’s fastest man in 2011, has scored 16 tries in 30 appearances for the Giants after joining them two years ago from Salford, for whom he notched 60 tries in 99 games. Catalans coach, Laurent Frayssinous, said: “It is very pleasing to have reached an agreement with Jodie to bring him to the Dragons for the next two seasons.”