Nowell has lost his spot on the right wing despite impressing in last week’s defeat of Ireland
England have sprung a surprise by selecting Chris Ashton in place of Jack Nowell for Sunday’s Six Nations clash with France at Twickenham.
Nowell impressed in the 32-20 victory over Ireland in Dublin but has lost his spot on the right wing to Ashton, the Top 14 record try-scorer who makes his first Championship start since 2013.
“We have gone for Chris Ashton on the wing because we think he might sneak us a try early in the game,” head coach Eddie Jones said.
“Jack Nowell was brilliant against Ireland and he’ll play a significant role for us off the bench.”
The second change to the starting XV sees Courtney Lawes partner George Kruis at lock after Maro Itoje was struck down by a knee injury at the Aviva Stadium. Filling the vacancy on the bench created by Lawes’ promotion is Joe Launchbury.
Itoje was expected to be missing until the final rounds of the tournament but Jones has revealed he might be back sooner than expected from his grade two medial ligament tear.
“It’s unfortunate Maro is injured but he has been rehabbing well so we are hopeful he will be back earlier than maybe first predicted,” Jones said.
“We have got great depth in the squad so Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes will fill his shoes very well.”
Apart from the presence of Nowell and Launchbury, there are two more changes to the bench in the shape of props Dan Cole and Ben Moon who have displaced Harry Williams and Ellis Genge.
Neither flanker Brad Shields nor wing Joe Cokanasiga have made the matchday 23 despite recovering from respective side and knee injuries.
Toulon centre Mathieu Bastareaud has been recalled to the France team, having been left out the side that lost to Wales last Friday.
Bastareaud’s return is one of six changes to the side by head coach Jacques Brunel.
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“I explained last week the tenure of Romain Ntamack and Wesley Fofana, noting that Mathieu Bastareaud remained an important option for us and that he was important in our system and our team,” Brunel said at a press conference, reported on L’Equipe.
“Today, it seems appropriate for us to do it because it seems to us to be an important option against England.
“The option of Mathieu, we know it, we know the impact it can have, and against the power of the English in the middle of the field, including via Manu Tuilagi, it can have an interesting impact.”
Geoffrey Doumayrou returns in the centres, Yacouba Camara in the third row, with lock Felix Lambey and prop Demba Bamba also starting at Twickenham.
England have triumphed in nine of their last 12 Six Nations games against France and have not lost to their old foes at Twickenham since 2005.