HEAD COACH Eddie Jones hopes to trouble France with the “enormous pace” of England’s back three when the rivals clash in tomorrow’s NatWest Six Nations encounter in Paris.
Mike Brown has been dropped for the first time in Jones’s 26-Test reign, making way at full-back for Anthony Watson in a back three that sees the return of Elliot Daly on the left-wing.
Daly has recovered from ankle and calf injuries to win his first cap since the autumn and completing the jet-heeled trio that Jones expects to exploit any loose French kicking is Jonny May.
“The three of them are genuinely quick. They have enormous pace, but they have got to work together,” said Jones.
“France score a lot of their points through attacking kicks, so we need to counter those and take the opportunities and attack when we get loose ball from them. Mike took the news very well, I’ve been really impressed by him. Obviously the players sense selection changes early in the week.
“He’s really given his best, has trained hard and helped Anthony, which is a really good sign for the team.”
France score a lot of their points through attacking kicks, so we need to counter those and take the opportunities and attack when we get loose ball from them.England head coach, Eddie Jones
A further development of significance in a side showing five changes, two positional, following the 25-13 loss to Scotland sees the power of Ben Te’o preferred to the quick feet of Jonathan Joseph at outside centre.
“This was always the plan – we felt we’d need someone a bit bigger and stronger on a slower track at the Stade de France and this is why Ben Te’o starts,” added Jones.
“The French play fairly direct and he’ll enjoying getting a shot on Mathieu Bastareaud early.”
Owen Farrell leads England for the first time after Dylan Hartley was ruled out of the penultimate round of the Six Nations by a tight calf.
Hartley has been an ever-present under Jones, starting all but one of his 26 Tests in charge and always acting as captain – and his absence at the Stade de France is part of the most radical selection of the Australian’s reign.
Jamie George, the British and Irish Lions’ starting hooker against New Zealand last summer, is given the No 2 jersey, while Mako Vunipola is vice-captain.
France: H Bonneval; B Fall, M Bastareaud, G Doumayrou, R Grosso; F Trinh-Duc, M Machenaud; J Poirot, G Guirado (capt), R Slimani, P Gabrillagues, S Vahaamhina, W Lauret, Y Camara, M Tauleigne. Replacements: A Pelissie, D Priso, C Gomes, R Taofifenua, K Galletier, B Couilloud, L Beauxis, G Fickou.
England: A Watson, J May, B Te’o, O Farrell, E Daly, G Ford, D Care; M Vunipola, J George, D Cole, J Launchbury, M Itoje, C Lawes, C Robshaw, N Hughes. Replacements: L Cowan-Dickie, J Marler, K Sinckler, J Haskell, S Simmonds, R Wigglesworth, J Joseph, M Brown.