England recall trio for France clash
February 21, 2013
England coach Stuart Lancaster on his latest selection
England coach Stuart Lancaster has made three changes to his starting line-up for Saturday's Six Nations showdown with France at Twickenham.
Centre Manu Tuilagi returns to partner Brad Barritt in midfield instead of Billy Twelvetrees while Dylan Hartley gets the nod at hooker ahead of Tom Youngs. Courtney Lawes will start at blindside rather than his usual second row berth for the first time instead of flu-victim James Haskell in the only other change to the side that started against Ireland in Dublin last time out with all three displaced players dropping to the bench.
Tuilagi returns to the No.13 shirt for the first time since starring in the victory over New Zealand in December while Hartley starts his first Test since last summer's tour to South Africa having missed the autumn internationals through injury with Youngs' form ensuring he held onto his place in the side for the opening Six Nations fixtures. Lawes has previously featured at blindside for Northampton and will provide a key lineout option but England will go into the game with no second row or back three cover on the bench
Lancaster said: "We thought long and hard about changing a winning team which did so well against Ireland. But we believe that Dylan, Courtney and Manu are ready for the opportunity and allow us to vary our play, while the bench will add impact and energy as the game unfolds in the second half.
"The players are really looking forward to getting back to Twickenham. The atmosphere in the stadium is fantastic and hopefully the crowd can get behind us in what is sure to be a great challenge against a motivated and physical French team."
Lancaster also explained the reasoning behind his selection of Tuilagi who he described as a "good gainline option" both as an attacking weapon and as a decoy runner. On Hartley's promotion he added: "Dylan is one of our most experienced players and is a bigger and heavier man than Tom and in terms of the set-piece he adds stability but part of the equation is Tom's dynamic impact in the second half."
As for lock Lawes being selected at blindside flanker in place of flu victim Haskell, Lancaster admitted he would be a key asset, especially at the lineout: "Courtney brings a lot more than lineout presence. Defensively he is one of our best players, he's hungry to carry the ball in attack and has a point to prove. The lineout is a significant part of the game now and he opens up our options there.
"If you look down our lineout in terms of defence, Launchbury, Parling, Wood and Lawes are all options. France put a big emphasis on set-piece, they drive well off lineouts and we want to put pressure on their offensive lineouts."
England: Alex Goode; Chris Ashton, Manu Tuilagi, Brad Barritt, Mike Brown; Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs; Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole; Joe Launchbury, Geoff Parling; Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, Chris Robshaw (capt)
Replacements: Tom Youngs, Mako Vunipola, David Wilson, James Haskell, Thomas Waldrom, Danny Care, Toby Flood, Billy Twelvetrees
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin