Farrell to lead England in crunch clash against France

Sports | 9 Mar 2018

Owen Farrell will captain England for the first time after being named to lead the side against France in tomorrow's Six Nations clash in Paris.

Regular skipper Dylan Hartley has been ruled out with a calf injury sustained during training and the Northampton hooker's place in the front row will be taken by long-serving deputy Jamie George. Hartley has been a constant presence since Eddie Jones took over as coach, starting all but one of his 26 Tests in charge of the side.

Prop Mako Vunipola, who plays alongside inside centre Farrell at Saracens, will be England's vice-captain in Paris.

"Owen will be very proud to be captain but at the same time he's disappointed for Dylan to miss out through injury. He knows the position of captain carries a lot of responsibility," Jones said.

George coming in for Hartley was the only change to England's pack.

But Jones has shaken up his back division following England's 25-13 defeat by Scotland at Murrayfield last time out - just the second loss of his reign. Anthony Watson starts at full-back in place of the benched Mike Brown, with fit-again Elliot Daly moving into the left-wing berth vacated by Watson's positional switch.

Ben Te'o, a powerful-ball carrier, comes back in at outside center instead of Jonathan Joseph. Both Brown and Joseph are on a much-changed bench that sees veteran back-row James Haskell and fit-again loose forward Sam Simmonds returning to England's matchday squad along with prop Kyle Sinckler.

"This game is about the opportunity for the team to move forward," said Jones. "Against France we want to be brutal and aggressive on the gain line and to play with a great tactical discipline."

France, who beat Italy 34-17 last time out for their first win of the campaign, made one change, with Francois Trinh-Duc replacing Lionel Beauxis at fly-half.

Meanwhile, Scotland coach Gregor Townsend believes his side will have to improve on their impressive win over England ifthey are to spring another surprise by beating table-toppers Ireland in Dublin tomorrow.

"They are a top-three team in the world and they have a very good home record," Townsend said of the Irish.

"There are not many, if any, weaknesses in the team and they get the detail and physicality right, so you have to be at your best to win.

Scotland dominated the breakdown against England, but Townsend forecast a more difficult battle for possession in Dublin.


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