Six Nations 2013: No changes in England's 23-man squad

 

SIX NATIONS: ENGLAND v FRANCE

  • Venue: Twickenham
  • Date: Saturday, 23 February
  • Kick-off: 17:00 GMT

Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC One HD, Red Button and online; listen to BBC 5 live & online; live text commentary on BBC Sport website; watch again on BBC iPlayer; highlights on BBC Two & BBC HD on Sunday 2315.

England have named an unchanged 23-man squad for Saturday's Six Nations match against France at Twickenham.

Head coach Stuart Lancaster has kept faith with the same men that beat Ireland 12-6 in Dublin nine days ago.

Wasps back row forward Billy Vunipola hurt his ankle in training on Tuesday and has returned to his club side.

"We had to make some close calls but the team did very well in Ireland so we've gone with the same squad against France," Lancaster said.

England have also allowed Saracens quartet Mouritz Botha, Will Fraser, David Strettle and Joel Tomkins, Northampton Saints duo Lee Dickson and Ben Foden, Worcester Warriors' Matt Kvesic, Gloucester's Ben Morgan, London Irish's Alex Corbisiero, London Wasps' Elliot Daly and Henry Thomas of Sale Sharks to return to their Premiership clubs.

"We've had 30 plus guys pushing hard for selection this week, which is what we want. We are looking forward to getting back to Twickenham against what I am sure will be a highly motivated French team," the head coach added.

Lancaster will announce his starting line-up on Thursday, with Mako Vunipola hoping to replace Joe Marler in the England loose-head prop position.

Six Nations table

Played Won Points Difference Points

England

2

2

+26

4

Scotland

2

1

+4

2

Wales

2

1

+2

2

Ireland

2

1

+2

2

Italy

2

1

-19

2

France

2

0

-15

0

Vunipola impressed in Saracens' Premiership victory over Exeter at the weekend, and England forwards coach Graham Rowntree says that the 22-year-old could displace incumbent Marler.

"I'm quite comfortable with him starting, though [as an impact substitute] it's no bad thing for a person like him to sit on the bench. It is horses for courses," he said.

Rowntree expects a tough test from the France pack in Saturday's Six Nations clash.

England lead the table after wins over Scotland and Ireland , however Saturday's opponents have lost their opening two games for the first time since 1982. Rowntree anticipates a backlash at Twickenham.

"It will change the whole complexion of their championship if they win, and the way they will challenge us is through their forward pack," he said. ]

"There is never a weak French scrum, and as an outfit, regardless of results, that area of the game is something we always respect."

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre says his team will give "120%".

"We will need to bring enthusiasm and confidence into the game," said Saint-Andre. "We will not beat England by doing nothing. Going to Twickenham is a fantastic challenge.

"I want to be proud of a team who will go there to give 120% of what they have."

England try scorers Ben Foden, Tom Croft and Manu Tuilagi

Six Nations highlights 2012: France 22-24 England

"You can't dream of a better stage - 80,000 supporters with all the folklore that goes with it. I can't wait."

Loose-head prop Thomas Domingo has been recalled after missing France's opening two matches, and Rowntree thinks Saint-Andre will give the Clermont forward a starting berth.

"We are preparing for Domingo and I think he will start," added the 41-year-old.

"We have been watching him play for Clermont. He has been around that setup for a few years now. He is an incredible scrummager - a compact little unit, but technically very good."

England squad to face France (kick-off 17:00 GMT):

Forwards: Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (London Wasps), Joe Launchbury (London Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), David Wilson (Bath Rugby) , Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints),Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Backs: Chris Ashton (Saracens), Brad Barritt (Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Danny Care (Harlequins), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), Alex Goode (Saracens), Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).