England spring selection surprise for France clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Max Malins is set to make his first England start after being named at fullback in place of Elliot Daly for the Six Nations clash with France at Twickenham on Saturday.
In other changes to the England side that lost 24-40 to Wales in the last round, coach Eddie Jones has moved lock Charlie Ewels off the bench at the expense of Jonny Hill, with Luke Cowan-Dickie starting at hooker in place of Jamie George.
Daly, George and Hill are all on the bench.
Daly, capped 50 times by England, has been Jones’ first-choice fullback since 2018 but has now been ousted from the starting XV by the in-form Malins, who is currently on loan to Bristol from Saracens where Daly plays.
George is on the bench for the second time this Six Nations after making way for Cowan-Dickie in the win over Italy.
Defeat by Wales effectively ended England’s bid to retain their Six Nations title given they also lost their tournament opener to Scotland.
They face a France side bidding for a Grand Slam, with the French having played just two matches after their fixture with Scotland was postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak in Les Bleus’ camp.
“This France game is one we are really looking forward to,” Jones said in a statement.
“We are of course disappointed that we can’t defend the Championship, but that makes this an even more important game. We want to show what we are capable of.
“The squad have competed really hard in training since Sunday. I believe this is the best 23 to really take the game to France and get us on the front foot.”
England: 15 Max Malins, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Owen Farrell (captain), 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Jonny Hill, 20 Ben Earl, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Ollie Lawrence, 23 Elliot Daly.
Date: Saturday, March 13
Venue: Twickenham Stadium, London
Kick-off: 16.45 (16.45 GMT; 17.45 France time)
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Mike Adamson (Scotland), Craig Evans (Wales)
TMO: Joy Neville (Ireland)