England retain same squad for France
February 19, 2013
Dylan Hartley could start for England against France on Saturday © Getty Images
England coach Stuart Lancaster has opted to keep the same 23-man squad that beat Ireland for Saturday's Six Nations clash with France.
England go into the match full of confidence with two wins from two under the belt in this season's competition. They will come up against a France side who are hurting after losing their opening two matches, with Lancaster's side favourites for the meeting.
And he has opted to stick with the winning formula that saw them prevail in Dublin against Ireland on February 10. England's XV will be announced on Thursday morning and while the 23-man squad is the same, there may be a different starting line up taking to the Twickenham field on Saturday.
Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley could get the nod ahead of Leicester's Tom Youngs while his team-mate at the Tigers Manu Tuilagi could partner Brad Barritt in the centres. With Ben Morgan still absent through injury - the Gloucester No.8 is targeting the round four match against Italy for his return - Tom Wood could continue at No.8 with either James Haskell or Courtney Lawes getting the blindside berth. Leicester's Thomas Waldrom could also get the nod at No.8 as he fends off Wasps' Billy Vunipola to retain his spot in the squad.
Lancaster will now hope that his team continues in a similar manner to the performance they put in against the Irish when they face France.
"We've had 30 plus guys pushing hard for selection this week, which is what we want," Lancaster explained. "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. We are looking forward to getting back to Twickenham against what I am sure will be a highly motivated French team."
England squad for France:
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)
The released players: Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), Elliot Daly (London Wasps), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), Will Fraser (Saracens), Ben Foden (Northampton Saints), Matt Kvesic (Worcester Warriors), Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby), David Strettle (Saracens), Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks), Joel Tomkins (Saracens), Billy Vunipola (London Wasps)
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Proposals to remove promotion and relegation from the Aviva Premiership would be for the good of the game overall, argues John Taylor
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery