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- RBS Six Nations
- 1st Feb 2014
- KO 17:00
- Ground: Stade de France, Paris
- Att: 80,000
RBS Six Nations: France v England preview
My instincts after the three days told me that Jack (Nowell), Luther (Burrell) and Jonny (May) were ready.
Quotes of the week
Did you know ...
England have won six of their last seven games against France in the RBS Six Nations.
- Tales out of England clash
- Lancaster: No fears on new men
- Rowntree: England pack a punch
- Baptism of Fire
- Lawes: Keep your discipline
- Vunipola relishing French test
- England ponder prop selection
- Plisson to start for France
- England name Nowell, Burrell
- Barritt eyes opening victory
- England undone by late try
- Launchbury wants to build on momentum
- Dream come true for Burrell
- Tough selection decisions for Lancaster
- Stern test at the Stade De France
- Lancaster to put faith in youngsters
- Lawes: Discipline will be key
England take on France in a mouthwatering Six Nations opener in Paris on Saturday as coach Stuart Lancaster opts for speed over experience in his backline.
Northampton centre Luther Burrell and Exeter wing Jack Nowell will be making their debuts in the Stade de France clash, a tough baptism for both men. Gloucester wing Jonny May, meanwhile, will be winning only his second cap.
It means full-back Mike Brown, fly-half Owen Farrell and inside centre Billy Twelvetrees will be looked upon to guide the rookies alongside them.
The combination of Burrell and Twelvetrees in midfield is particularly surprising given that although Manu Tuilagi is injured, the experienced Brad Barritt is back from injury.
Scrum-half Danny Care, a veteran of 42 Tests, returns to the starting XV for the first time since playing against Italy in last season's competition.
Care, Farrell and Brown have 81 caps between them, but there are only nine Test appearances between the rest of England's backs.
Despite that fact, head coach Stuart Lancaster insists he was not taking an excessive risk by fielding novices Nowell, May and Burrell, and has no doubts that his side are ready for the big occasion.
"The upside is that they have no fear. There is no fear factor that sometimes can build during players' careers in international rugby," he said.
"Ultimately I've gone with my gut instinct, which was probably formulated after watching training on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday last week.
"Form, potential and consistency of performance in the Premiership and Europe have been factors."
He added: "My instincts after the three days told me that Jack, Luther and Jonny were ready."
England have won six of their last seven games against Les Bleus in the tournament and will be desperate to continue that form as they bid to win the title for only the second time since 2003.
Meanwhile, France head coach Philippe Saint-Andre has handed 22-year-old fly-half Jules Plisson his first cap.
Plisson will be partnered at half-back by Jean-Marc Doussain of Toulouse, while his Stade Francais team-mate Alexandre Flanquart is preferred to Yoann Maestri in the second row.
Having been in outstanding form at club level, Plisson will look to lift a France side that struggled in 2013, losing eight times in 11 matches. Along with Doussain, who is also 22, they will form the 10th different half-back pairing in 22 matches under Saint-Andre.
"A win would give us a lot of confidence and instil plenty of positivity in the group, but a defeat could spoil the Six Nations," said Saint-Andre.
"The first international match often sets the tempo for your season. We know that because last year we had a defeat in Italy (23-18) and then we had a difficult year.
"You can't be the favourites when you finished last in the 2013 Six Nations! We are outsiders. The favourites are the Welsh and the English.
"We are just going to concentrate on Saturday's match and try to have a much better 2014 than 2013."
France: 15 Dulin 14 Huget, 13 Bastareaud, 12 Fofana, 11 Medard 10 Plisson, 9 Doussain; 1 Domingo, 2 Kayser, 3 Mas, 4 Flanquart, 5 Pape (capt), 6 Nyanga, 7 Le Roux, 8 Picamoles.
Replacements: 16 Szarzewski, 17 Forestier, 18 Slimani, 19 Maestri, 20 Burban, 21 Chouly, 22 Machenaud, 23 Fickou.
England: 15 Brown, 14 Nowell, 13 Burrell, 12 Twelvetrees, 11 May, 10 Farrell, 9 Care; 1 Marler, 2 Hartley, 3 Cole, 4 Launchbury, 5 Lawes, 6 Wood, 7 Robshaw (capt), 8 Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Youngs, 17 Vunipola, 18 Thomas, 19 Attwood, 20 Morgan, 21 Dickson, 22 Barritt, 23 Goode.
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