Six Nations: Chris Ashton and Courtney Lawes start

Six Nations: Chris Ashton and Courtney Lawes start

Six Nations: Chris Ashton and Courtney Lawes start

'We have gone for Chris Ashton on the wing because we think he might sneak us a try early in the game, ' head coach Eddie Jones said. "This week, I'd say my role is becoming less and less significant - and that's the way it should be, because the players are doing more and more".

That Jones decided to make changes to his side was no surprise given that Maro Itoje was ruled out with the knee injury that he suffered last week. Filling the vacancy on the bench created by Lawes' promotion is Joe Launchbury.

"It was feared Itoje's knee injury would put him out of both the France and Wales games, but Jones revealed he was optimistic the Saracens lock would be back for the showdown in Cardiff in two weeks" time. Itoje's spot is taken by Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury will provide cover from the bench.

Props Dan Cole, who has not played for England for 11 months, and Ben Moon, who made his debut last November, are also on the bench as Jones looks to combat an enormous French pack.

Winger Joe Cokanasiga and flanker Brad Shields were the men trimmed from the provisional squad.

The offer was to join their commentary team for France's Six Nations clash against Italy in Marseille, and at that point Ashton accepted his worldwide career was very much dead in the water.


France are seeking a first victory in this year's tournament, having lost to Wales in the opening round. "Players have been very good and certainly by Sunday we'll be at our best", said Jones.

Jones spoke yesterday of Ashton's "unrelenting desire" to play for England since he returned to the Premiership with Sale Sharks this season, describing the 31-year-old as a "try poacher" and added: "Perseverance is a big thing in high performance sport". They are full of talent and have a lot of unpredictability.

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.

Exeter's Henry Slade keeps his place after scoring two tries against Ireland. "We know the impact Mathieu can have and faced with the English strength in midfield, notably Manu Tuilagi, he could have a good impact".

England, again captained by flyhalf Owen Farrell, will be up against a France side looking to bounce back from the shock of squandering a 16-0 half-time lead before losing 24-19 to Wales in Paris last weekend. Jamie George, 3. Kyle Sinckler, 4. Mark Wilson, 7. Tom Curry, 8. Ben Moon, 18. Dan Cole, 19.

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