Six Nations 2017 - England v France: Elliot Daly starts on wing

Elliot Daly
Daly has played eight times for England and has scored one try
Six Nations: England v France
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 4 February Kick-off: 16:50 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live, text commentary and post-game video highlights online

Elliot Daly has been named on the wing for England's Six Nations opener against France on Saturday, with the in-form Jack Nowell on the bench.

Nowell missed two days of training this week for personal reasons.

Maro Itoje will start a Test for the first time on the flank, and is named alongside Tom Wood and Nathan Hughes in the back row.

Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes start in the second row, after George Kruis was ruled out with a knee injury.

Hughes is at number eight in place of the injured Billy Vunipola while prop Joe Marler, who has recovered from a fractured leg, starts. Flanker James Haskell is among the replacements.

Daly, who has also played at centre for England, was sent off on his last appearance for his country against Argentina in December, having started the previous Autumn Internationals against South Africa and Fiji.

"Elliot did superbly for us in the autumn," said England coach Eddie Jones. "He's got genuine pace and can play as a third centre. Jack's absence had nothing to do with selection."

There are eight changes from the starting line-up that sealed England's first clean sweep of the Six Nations in 13 years when the teams met in Paris in March.

Mako Vunipola (knee) and Chris Robshaw (shoulder) are unlikely to play a part in England's title defence, while winger Anthony Watson (hamstring) and second row Kruis (knee) have been sidelined for the tournament opener.

Despite the disruption to his preparations, Jones wants his side to take risks.

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Six Nations tries of the tournament

"In rugby terms you've traditionally got two contrasting styles - French flair and England's dogged conservative approach, but we want to be absolutely daring against the French in this first game and set the standard for the tournament," he said.

"Guy Noves likes a big team. He picks a traditional French forward pack with squat front-rowers who scrummage well, big locks who give a lot of ballast and athletic back-rowers.

"It's based on size and crunching that gain line, getting an offload and then playing with flair.

"Of course, this gives you an opportunity when you've got a big forward pack against you and we intend to exploit that."

England's attacking threat was evident in the series whitewash of Australia in the summer and the autumn internationals, scoring 35 or more points in five of their past seven games.

However, despite 13 straight victories since taking charge last year, Jones has told his team to be tighter in defence.

Analysis

5 live rugby commentator Chris Jones

Jack Nowell has been in outstanding form for his club Exeter this season, but after missing Tuesday's training session he has to make do with a place on the bench as the versatile Elliot Daly starts.

Maro Itoje's selection on the flank is eye-catching, as is James Haskell's return to the squad after his long injury lay-off.

And while George Kruis' injury is a blow, England are extremely well-stocked in the second row, with Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes a high-quality pairing.

England team to face France: Mike Brown; Jonny May, Jonathan Joseph, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley (captain), Dan Cole; Joe Launchbury; Courtney Lawes; Maro Itoje, Tom Wood, Nathan Hughes.

Replacements: Jamie George, Matt Mullan, Kyle Sinckler, Teimana Harrison, James Haskell, Danny Care, Ben Te'o, Jack Nowell.

Can Serin spark much-changed France?

France start with six players beaten by Jones' side in Paris during March.

The loss of Wesley Fofana to a torn achilles will see Gael Fickou switch roles, while there will be a focus on 22-year-old Baptiste Serin, playing his first Six Nations game at scrum-half.

Serin has captained his country at under-20 level and impressed in his early outings for Les Bleus at senior level.

Flanker Kevin Gourdon and loose-head prop Cyril Baille will also play in the competition for the first time as coach Guy Noves looks to improve on a fifth-placed finish last year in what is his second campaign in charge.

France team to face England: Scott Spedding, Noa Nakaitaci, Remi Lamerat, Gael Fickou, Virimi Vakatawa, Camille Lopez, Baptiste Serin; Cyril Baille, Guilhem Guirado (captain), Uini Atonio, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Yoann Maestri, Damien Chouly, Kevin Gourdon, Louis Picamoles.

Reserves: Clement Maynadier, Rabah Slimani, Xavier Chiocci, Arthur Iturria, Loann Goujon, Maxime Machenaud, Jean Marc Doussain, Yoann Huget.

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