Six Nations: England drop Nowell, recall Ashton for France

Aubrey Yates
February 10, 2019

Chris Ashton will make his first Six Nations start since 2013 when he replaces Jack Nowell who drops to the bench.

As ever, Jones played down the significance of his switch with Nowell saying only that he had a "gut feeling" that Ashton, who will be making his first Six Nations start for six years, would be right for the beginning of the match and Nowell was better suited for the latter stages.

"We've worked extremely hard, we're in a good physical state and the way we're thinking about the game is correct so we're ready to go", Jones said.

"Jack Nowell was brilliant against Ireland and he'll play a significant role for us off the bench", the Australian added. Wasps lock Joe Lunchbury takes the place of Lawes on the England bench.

Itoje was expected to be missing until the final rounds but he could now be back sooner than expected from his grade two medial ligament tear, although Jones declined to reveal whether that would be in time for the February 23 clash with Wales. Joe Launchbury will fill the vacancy on the bench. The other player to miss the cut is rookie Bath wing Joe Cokanasiga, who is continuing his recovery from a knee injury.

After England delivered what was widely acclaimed as the best performance of his reign to beat holders Ireland last week Eddie Jones has promised that they will be even better against France in their second Six Nations match on Sunday. Post-Dublin, it seems as if we spent all last week assuring ourselves that England now have around 10 world-class players in every position.

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"We feel that maybe early in the game, as he did against New Zealand he can find the line for us, could be important".

England, again captained by flyhalf Owen Farrell, will be up against a France side looking to bounce back from the shock of squandering a 16-0 half-time lead before losing 24-19 to Wales in Paris last weekend.

When asked if he could return in time to face Warren Gatland's men, Jones replied: "I'm always optimistic".

Just a year ago, Ashton was unavailable for England selection and only featured in the Six Nations by offering his expertise as a pundit for France's game against Italy. Ben Youngs; 1. Mako Vunipola, 2.

Replacements: L Cowan-Dickie (Exeter), B Moon (Exeter), D Cole (Leicester), J Launchbury (Wasps), N Hughes (Wasps), D Robson (Wasps), G Ford (Leicester), J Nowell (Exeter).

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