Jones springs selection surprise for France clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: England coach Eddie Jones sprang a surprise by naming George Furbank at fullback and Freddie Steward on the wing for his side’s bid to deny France a Grand Slam in their Six Nations finale in Paris on Saturday.
Steward was England’s fullback in their 15-32 defeat by Ireland at Twickenham last week.
But he has now been moved to the right wing after Jones dropped Max Malins, with Furbank taking over the No.15 jersey in his first appearance of the tournament.
Jones has also recalled Ben Youngs, England’s most-capped player, at scrumhalf in place of rising star Harry Randall.
Charlie Ewels’ red card after just 82 seconds into England’s record home defeat by Ireland means Nick Isiekwe makes his third start of the Six Nations in the second row while Sam Underhill replaces hamstring-injury victim Tom Curry at openside flank.
In the front row, Will Stuart starts at prop with Kyle Sinckler on the bench following a concussion sustained against Ireland.
That reverse ended any hopes England had of winning the title following their first-round defeat by Scotland at Murrayfield.
England are playing for third place at best but could finish as low as fifth if they lose at the Stade de France and other results go against them.
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) March 17, 2022
“This is our strongest 23 for the game against France,” said veteran Australian coach Jones. “We are disappointed not to be in contention for the trophy but last week’s effort against Ireland was full of pride, energy and tactical discipline.
“We have focused on refreshing the team this week and we are ready to empty the tank on Saturday.”
England: 15 George Furbank, 14 Freddie Steward, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Henry Slade, 11 Jack Nowell, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Courtney Lawes (captain), 5 Nick Isiekwe, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Jamie George, 1 Ellis Genge.
Replacements: 16 Nic Dolly, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Ollie Chessum, 20 Alex Dombrandt, 21 Harry Randall, 22 George Ford, 23 Elliot Daly.
Date: Saturday, March 19
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Kick-off: 21.00 (20.00 UK & Ireland time; 20.00 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Mike Adamson (Scotland), Frank Murphy (Ireland)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)