Six Nations 2017 – England v France: Elliot Daly starts on wing

Elliot Daly

Six Nations: England v France
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 4 February Kick-off: 16:50 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live, text commentary and post-game video highlights online

Elliot Daly has been named on the wing for England’s Six Nations opener against France on Saturday, with the in-form Jack Nowell on the bench.

Nowell missed two days of training this week because of personal reasons.

Maro Itoje will start a Test for the first time on the flank, and is named alongside Tom Wood and Nathan Hughes in the back row.

Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes start in the second row, after George Kruis was ruled out with a knee injury.

Hughes is at number eight in place of the injured Billy Vunipola while prop Joe Marler, who has recovered from a fractured leg, starts. Flanker James Haskell is among the replacements.

Daly, who has also played at centre for England, was sent off on his last appearance for his country against Argentina in December.

There are eight changes from the starting line-up that sealed England’s first clean sweep of the Six Nations in 13 years when the teams met in Paris in March.

Mako Vunipola (knee) and Chris Robshaw (shoulder) are unlikely to play a part in England’s title defence, while winger Anthony Watson (hamstring) and second row Kruis (knee) have been sidelined for the tournament opener.

Despite the disruption to his preparations, coach Eddie Jones wants his side to take risks.

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“In rugby terms you’ve traditionally got two contrasting styles – French flair and England’s dogged conservative approach, but we want to be absolutely daring against the French in this first game and set the standard for the tournament,” he said.

“Guy Noves likes a big team. He picks a traditional French forward pack with squat front-rowers who scrummage well, big locks who give a lot of ballast and athletic back-rowers.

“It’s based on size and crunching that gain line, getting an offload and then playing with flair.

“Of course, this gives you an opportunity when you’ve got a big forward pack against you and we intend to exploit that.”

England’s attacking threat was evident in the series whitewash of Australia in the summer and the autumn internationals, scoring 35 or more points in five of their past seven games.

However, despite 13 straight victories since taking charge last year, Jones has told his team to be tighter in defence.