What we learned from the England team to face France

England need a response following their Calcutta Cup defeat, but face a difficult challenge against France in Paris on Saturday.

England need a response following their Calcutta Cup defeat, but face a difficult challenge against France in Paris on Saturday.

Eddie Jones’ men almost certainly need a win to keep their 2018 NatWest 6 Nations Championship ambitions alive and hang on to the coattails of the undefeated Irish.

France are fresh from a 34-17 win over Italy and Jones has made three changes to his starting XV.

Here is everything we learned from Jones’ selection for England’s trip to the Stade de France.

Daly’s surprise return

Wasps back Elliot Daly was initially ruled out of the NatWest 6 Nations when he sustained an ankle injury back in December, but has recovered quicker than expected.

Daly scored two tries during England’s winning campaign in 2017, including a famous late try to sink Wales in Cardiff, so his return will undoubtedly be a boost to the team.

The 25-year-old will start on the left wing for England, with Anthony Watson going to full-back and Jonny May moving to the right flank.

Against a free-flowing, attacking French side, Daly’s pace and strong kicking game could be just the thing that leads them to victory.

Hartley out, Farrell to captain

Dylan Hartley’s tight calf has forced him out of the squad for Saturday’s match, creating a vacancy at hooker and captain.

Jamie George is the natural replacement in the front row, and another good performance from him could strengthen his case for a starting place.

Exeter Chiefs’ in form No.2 Luke Cowan-Dickie comes in to fill the spot on the bench.

But Hartley’s absence means Farrell will captain his country for the first time, putting more responsibility on his shoulders.

Farrell, who already undertakes kicking duties and martials the back line along with George Ford, will now have to manage the pressure of skippering the side.

Te’o gets his start

Ben Te’o came on as a replacement against both Wales and Scotland, but has now re-earned the No.13 jersey that he last wore in the Championship opener against Italy.

The Worcester Warriors man will start at outside centre, replacing Jonathan Joseph, who drops to the bench.

The 31-year-old will partner Farrell in the centres and faces the unenviable task of lining up against Mathieu Bastareaud, the 120kg Toulon centre who scored in the win over Italy on his return to the French side.

Te’o will need to keep Bastareaud quiet if England are to win the midfield battle on Saturday.

Strength in depth at prop

Kyle Sinckler returns from injury and joins Joe Marler on the bench, who himself returned to the England squad in Round 3.

Exeter Chiefs duo Harry Williams and Alec Hepburn performed well for the opening two fixtures, but Eddie Jones will be pleased to have his preferred reserves back.

Harlequins teammates Marler and Sinckler were both part of the 2017 British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand and bring added international experience.

Sinckler’s explosive pace and power off the bench is something England have been lacking in the Championship so far.

Despite the loss of their captain, England look well placed to come away from Paris with a win and keep their Championship hopes well and truly alive.