Six Nations

Injury-hit England name side to face France

2017-02-02 12:34
Eddie Jones (Getty)

London - Elliot Daly will start on the wing when a much-changed England begin the defence of their Six Nations title against France at Twickenham on Saturday.

Daly was named on the left wing when coach Eddie Jones announced his side on Thursday. 

Jack Nowell had been in line to fill the position but missed training on Tuesday due to personal reasons and only returned to reigning Grand Slam champions England's training camp in Bagshot, southwest of London, on Thursday.

Nowell was, however, named on the bench.

Daly is now set to win his ninth cap after the utility back's last Test appearance saw him become just the fifth England player to be sent off when he saw red for taking out Argentina's Leonardo Senatore in the air at Twickenham in November.

Injuries have been a major concern to England, particularly in the back row.

Maro Itoje, a lock by trade, will make his first Test start at blindside flank after former England captain Chris Robshaw was ruled out of the whole Six Nations with a shoulder injury.

But in the front row, loosehead prop Joe Marler has made a quicker than expected return from a fractured leg.

Itoje takes his place in a revamped back row featuring No 8 Nathan Hughes and Tom Wood.

In all, England have made four changes in personnel to the team that beat Australia last time out, with Joe Launchbury back in the second row after George Kruis was ruled out with a potentially tournament-ending knee injury.

Bath wing Anthony Watson is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury, while back row Billy Vunipola will miss at least the opening rounds because of knee damage. 

Prop forward Mako Vunipola, Billy's brother, is also sidelined while injury-prone England centre Manu Tuilagi will play no part owing to a season-ending groin injury.

Nevertheless, Jones said: "We've been able to select a very strong and experienced team to play against France."

England are on a 14-match winning streak, 13 of those victories coming since Australian Jones took charge following their first-round exit on home soil at the 2015 World Cup. 

Another Grand Slam would see England surpass world champions New Zealand's top-tier record of 18 consecutive Test wins.

Dylan Hartley will continue as England captain against France even though it will be the Northampton hooker's first match since he received a six-week ban for striking Leinster's Sean O'Brien on December 3.

But although Hartley has missed more than a year of his career through suspension, Jones has kept faith with the New Zealand-born forward.

Matches between England and France have produced some memorable encounters and Jones said: "There's a great rivalry between the countries so we're looking forward to a great occasion playing against one of England's oldest foes.

"In rugby terms you've traditionally got two contrasting styles - French flair and England's dogged conservative approach - but we want to be absolutely daring against the French in this first game and set the standard for the tournament.

"Guy Noves (the France coach) likes a big team. He picks a traditional French forward pack with squat front-rowers who scrummage well, big locks who give a lot of ballast and athletic back-rowers.

"It's based on size and crunching that gain line, getting an off-load and then playing with flair.

"Of course it gives you an opportunity when you've got a big forward pack against you and we intend to exploit that.

"We want to get better all of the time, we are ambitious and we want to be the number one team in the world.

Noves was due to name his side later on Thursday.

Teams:

England

15 Mike Brown, 14 Jonny May, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Maro Itoje, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Joe Marler

Substitutes: 16 Jamie George, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Teimana Harrison, 20 James Haskell, 21 Danny Care, 22 Ben Te'o, 23 Jack Nowell

France

15 Scott Spedding; 14 Maxime Nakaitaci, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Remi Lamerat, 11 Virimi Vakatawa; 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Baptiste Serin, 8 Kevin Gourdon, 7 Louis Picamoles, 6 Damien Chouly, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Sebastien Vahaamahina; 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Guilhem Guirado (captain), 1 Cyril Baille

Substitutes: 16 Clement Maynadier, 17 Rabah Slimani, 18 Xavier Chiocci, 19 Arthur Iturria, 20 Loann Goujon, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 21 Jean-Marc Doussain, 22 Yoann Huget

Read more on:    england  |  france  |  six nations  |  rugby
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