Chris Ashton will make his first Six Nations start in six years against France in one of two England changes for Sunday’s game.
The Saracens wing ended his long international exile during last year’s autumn internationals and has now been drafted into the starting line-up by head coach Eddie Jones for the latest edition of ‘Le Crunch’ at Twickenham.
Ashton replaces Jack Nowell, who drops to the bench, with the only other alteration made by Jones being an enforced one, with Courtney Lawes coming into the second row for Maro Itoje, who injured his knee in the 32-20 win in Ireland last Saturday.
Props Dan Cole and Ben Moon plus lock Joe Launchbury are added to the replacements’ bench, with Cole having not featured for England since last year’s disastrous Six Nations campaign.
Having watched his team excel in last week’s win in Dublin, Jones is expecting another big England performance against a France side who threw away a 16-point half-time lead against Wales in their opening match.
Jones said: “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. “It is unfortunate Maro is injured but he has been rehabbing well, so we are hopeful he will be back earlier than maybe first predicted.
We have got great depth in the squad, so Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes will fill his shoes very well. “We have gone for Chris Ashton on the wing; we think he might sneak us a try early in the game. Jack Nowell was brilliant against Ireland and he’ll play a significant role for us off the bench.”
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.