Eddie Jones has named his starting XV for England’s Six Nations opener with France at Twickenham on Saturday.
The Australian has recalled Elliot Daly, Joe Launchbury and Maro Itoje to his side – with the Itoje making his first Test Match start at blindside flanker.
Daly returns to the left wing, in what will be his first England start since his red card against Argentina in the Old Mutual Wealth Autumn Internationals. Launchbury also returns from an England ban, after missing the final two games of the autumn series.
Injuries have forced Jones to reshuffle his side, with Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola, George Kruis, Chris Robshaw and Anthony Watson all missing.
In the absence of the Vunipola brothers, Nathan Hughes will start at number eight, while Joe Marler returns to the side at loosehead prop – just one month after fracturing his leg playing for Harlequins.
On the bench there are recalls for Jack Nowell and James Haskell, who haven’t featured for England since the summer tour of Australia, which saw the side claim a historic series whitewash.
Many had expected Exeter winger Nowell to come straight into the starting XV, but after missing two days of training in the week for personal reasons, Jones has opted to use the livewire back as a replacement.
Jones Ready For Physical French Challenge At Twickenham
England enter Saturday’s clash knowing that a 15th consecutive would see them break their all-time record, set in 2002/03.
But Jones knows that the French will pose a major challenge to England’s perfect record – especially given their revival during the Autumn Internationals.
“Guy Noves 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 offload and then playing with flair.
“Of course, this gives you an opportunity when you’ve got a big forward pack against you and we intend to exploit that.”
England team to face France: Mike Brown; Jonny May, Jonathan Joseph, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley (captain), Dan Cole; Joe Launchbury; Courtney Lawes; Maro Itoje, Tom Wood, Nathan Hughes.
Replacements: Jamie George, Matt Mullan, Kyle Sinckler, Teimana Harrison, James Haskell, Danny Care, Ben Te’o, Jack Nowell.
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