Luther Burrell wears 12 in England colours for the first time, having played all of his previous international rugby at outside centre, while Dylan Hartley is retained at hooker.
With Tom Wood missing the game through injury, James Haskell comes onto the blindside flank and Dan Cole also makes his return on the tight-head. Ben Youngs is preferred at scrum-half while Jonathan Joseph will be Burrell's midfield partner.
Head coach Stuart Lancaster says the Saints centre's return is a welcome one.
“Luther obviously had a great Six Nations last year,” he told ERTV. “We brought him in for this particular game for his gainline presence. Obviously his ability to get across the gainline and his ability to stop people, too.
“He was unfortunate in the Autumn Internationals that he was unavailable with a hand injury so we couldn't really consider him but this time around, we feel it’s the right time to bring him back into the team.”
The Six Nations opener is live on the BBC and kick off in Cardiff is at 8:05pm.
ENGLAND SIDE TO FACE WALES
Friday, February 6th, 2015
Kick off 8:05pm
15 Mike Brown (Harlequins) 12 Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints) 2 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
14 Anthony Watson (Bath)
13 Jonathan Joseph (Bath)
10 George Ford (Bath)
9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
1 Joe Marler (Harlequins)
4 David Attwood (Bath)
5 George Kruis (Saracens)
6 James Haskell (Wasps)
7 Chris Robshaw (capt) (Harlequins)
8 Billy Vunipola (Saracens)
12 Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints)
2 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
16 Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
17 Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
18 Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons)
19 Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers)
20 Nick Easter (Harlequins)
21 Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)
22 Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks)
23 Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester)