Six Nations 2014: Jack Nowell and Luther Burrell to make debut as England name inexperienced back-line to take on France
Stuart Lancaster has selected a back-line with just 91 caps between them which includes debutants Nowell and Burrell
Thursday 30 January 2014
England will give debuts to outside centre Luther Burrell and wing Jack Nowell in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations opener against France.
Burrell has impressed throughout the season for Northampton, where he has been playing in the number 12 jersey, and starts ahead of Brad Barritt who is included on the bench.
Nowell, the tackle-busting Exeter wing, has benefited from injuries to Marland Yarde and Christian Wade to seize the number 14 jersey from the axed Chris Ashton.
Gloucester's elusive runner Jonny May wins his second cap on the left wing having appeared against Argentina during last summer's tour.
"Congratulations to Jack and Luther who deserve their chance, as does Jonny starting his first Six Nations game," head coach Stuart Lancaster said.
"It's also great to see Brad back in the 23 with his experience and leadership."
The fourth change to the back line that started November's 30-22 defeat to New Zealand sees Danny Care picked at scrum-half with Lee Dickson supplying cover from the bench.
Care partners Owen Farrell at half-back with Billy Twelvetrees reselected at inside centre and Mike Brown at full-back.
Care, Farrell and Brown have 81 caps between them, but there are only nine Test appearances in the remainder of the back line as Lancaster decides to gamble on potential at the Stade de France.
A further risk is the lack of specialist fly-half cover on the bench where Alex Goode, who plays full-back for Saracens, will act as back-up to Farrell.
England's pack excelled throughout the autumn and the eight that started against the All Blacks have been retained for the Six Nations collision in Paris.
Joe Marler has held off the challenge of Mako Vunipola, who features on the bench, at loosehead prop. Openside Chris Robshaw continues at the helm.
"We felt the pack went well in the autumn and it's right to leave it unchanged," Lancaster said.
"But we have some quality players to come on off the bench, including two British and Irish Lions in Tom Youngs and Mako Vunipola.
"We can't wait for Saturday. We've had a good two weeks and all the players have pushed hard for selection."
Fly-half George Ford, prop Matt Mullan and wing Anthony Watson will travel to Paris with the squad as cover.
France enter the match as favourites, although England are at shorter odds to win the Six Nations. Lancaster has masterminded victory in both previous encounters with Les Bleus.
Lancaster declared that unproven trio Nowell, Burrell and May are ready for Saturday's showdown at the Stade de France.
"There were some really tough selection decisions going into this weekend, but consistency, form and potential have all played their part," Lancaster said.
"I started two years ago and we had seven new caps at Murrayfield. I've always felt if a player is ready then we should give him the opportunity.
"Players have to make their debut at some point and there's great potential in these players.
"Luther has played in big games such as Premiership finals and been exceptional for his club.
"Jack is ready after watching him play against Toulon and Jonny is a great broken field runner with good footwork."
Lancaster admitted his team selection was shaped by the understanding that opportunities to blood young players is running out with the 2015 World Cup approaching.
"There are always options you could have taken, but we're sat here in January 2014 and come January 2015 I want to be certain where we are in selection," he said.
"There's no easy internationals to give players opportunities in. We're happy with the players we've selected."
Lancaster announced that Twelvetrees and Goode will offer fly-half cover for Farrell.
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