I don't understand the obsession in some quarters with 'massive centres'. The autumn internationals taught us that we cannot simply pick brute force. All the best midfield pairings have balance. That is the key for me.
For all his passion Brad Barritt offers little going forward at 13. He doesn't have the hands or the subtlety to feed our back three. He is a good defensively minded centre and won't let the side down but his limitations where there for all to see back in November and sadly 'not letting the side down' won't win us a World Cup come October.
Moreover, as this article clearly identifies, we have somehow lost the difference between the specialist positions at inside and an outside centre! Yes I understand it is not quite as specialist as loosehead and tighthead but there are subtle yet important differences between the two. Currently we are apparently picking Luther Burrell at 12&13. Fitness can be blamed to a certain degree for this but, for me, Stuart Lancaster and more specifically Andy Farrell must take the blame for this confusion.
As mentioned in a previous comment Brad Barritt is an inside centre by trade. He plays there week in week out at Saracens. So to does Luther Burrell for Northampton yet both are options at 13 for England. Farrell's adoption with a Saracens styled blitz defence is to blame for this oddity and, for me, clouding his judgement when it comes to selection as he puts physicality at the top of his priority list.
Personally I would have Kyle Eastmond & Johnathon Joseph as my pairing. Both actually play @12&13 for their club side and both have been in sparkling form. Both are effective defensively and, most importantly, both are excellent at spotting & creating holes in opposition defences. The bonus of picking this pairing is that they will most likely play outside George Ford who they already have a great understanding with at Bath.
It will also give GF the confidence to know he has real ball players outside him that will create the most from what our dominant pack will most likely deliver... Front foot ball!
If and when Manu Tuilagi returns I would bring him in at 13 outside KE because as good as the previously mentioned pairing is Manu gives Ford an 'easy out' option and also gives the midfield better balance.
Personally I would have Barritt at inside with Burrell outside.
Put Sam outside Ford. He will attract and tie up defenders and can pass.
My thoughts exactly, Barritt-Burrell 12/13 axis is exactly what you need against a huge and physical backline, like the welsh.
Why is there no option to select the best defensive inside centre in England (Brad Barritt) as an inside centre - only out of position as outside centre.