Courtney Lawes and Chris Ashton are the only two changes to England’s starting XV for Sunday’s Six Nations clash with France at Twickenham.
Lawes comes into the second row in place of the injured Maro Itoje, who damaged knee ligaments in last weekend’s victory over Ireland. Wasps lock Joe Lunchbury takes the place of Lawes on the England bench.
Itoje was expected to miss the trip to Cardiff on February 23 as well as Sunday’s clash but head coach Eddie Jones has hinted he may return sooner than expected from his grade two medial ligament tear.
It’s unfortunate Maro is injured but he has been rehabbing well so we are hopeful he will be back earlier than maybe first predicted, Jones said.
We have got great depth in the squad so Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes will fill his shoes very well.
Ashton will make his first start in the Six Nations since 2013 after being named on the right wing in place of Jack Nowell, who drops to the bench, despite impressing in Dublin last weekend.
We have gone for Chris Ashton on the wing; we think he might sneak us a try early in the game, Jones explained. Jack Nowell was brilliant against Ireland and he’ll play a significant role for us off the bench.
Props Dan Cole and Ben Moon are named among the replacements after not featuring against Ireland. Harry Williams and Ellis Genge drop out of the squad.
Cole is set to make his first appearance for England since last year’s Six Nations.
Jones added: After the Ireland game we have had to refocus and reset. Players have been very good and certainly by Sunday we’ll be at our best.
The French are always an interesting side to play against. They are full of talent, they have a lot of unpredictability so it’s hard to prepare tactically against them so we have had a real focus on ourselves.
We can’t wait to play in front of our supporters, I’m sure they will be buoyant by the first round results and we promise we will play a better game on Sunday.
Winger Joe Cokanasiga and flanker Brad Shields were the two players trimmed from the provisional squad Jones named earlier this week.
France have made six changes to their team after surrendering a 16-point half-time lead in last weekend’s defeat to Wales, with powerhouse centre Mathieu Bastareaud recalled to the side.
England have won nine of the last 12 Six Nations games against France, who have won only once at Twickenham in the Six Nations era, back in 2005.
England: 15. Elliot Daly, 14. Chris Ashton, 13. Henry Slade, 12. Manu Tuilagi, 11. Jonny May, 10. Owen Farrell (captain), 9. Ben Youngs; 1. Mako Vunipola, 2. Jamie George, 3. Kyle Sinckler; 4. Courtney Lawes, 5. George Kruis; 6. Mark Wilson, 7. Tom Curry, 8. Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: 16. Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17. Ben Moon, 18. Dan Cole, 19. Joe Launchbury, 20. Nathan Hughes, 21. Dan Robson, 22. George Ford, 23. Jack Nowell.