ENGLAND HAVE made one change to the starting line-up for the RBS 6 Nations match against France at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday, February 26 (5pm) but it is a crucial change as they have been able to recall on of rugby’s strongest men, Andrew Sheridan (Sale Sharks) returns at loose head prop in place of Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), who reverts to the bench in place of David Wilson (Bath Rugby).
England’s 12-10 defeat in Paris a year ago was rooted in the way France dominated in the scrum and the key players this weekend will be Sheridan and hooker Dylan Hartley, who will need to ensure that Thomas Domingo does not bore in on Dan Cole, as he did 12 months ago. Cole was hauled off at half-time in that game but it is the job of the whole front row to sort out the problems as gone is the day when you could “send one through” on a player who refused to scrummage straight.
Skipper Lewis Moody was ruled out with his knee injury not recovering in time for selection.
Manager Martin Johnson said: “Lewis is our captain, we all know what he brings to the team and he’s worked really hard to get back, everyone was confident but these things happen, unfortunately. He’s disappointed, but we haven’t had him so far and the other guys have done a good job, we’re fully happy with James (Haskell) and Tom (Wood).
“It’s a consistent team selection, there’s lots of guys playing well in the Premiership and putting pressure on the but we thought this was the right group to go with.”
Johnson also denied the contention that this game was a Grand Slam decider adding: “It’s just factually incorrect France have made it pretty clear they think if they win this one they’ll win the lot but we’re not looking beyond this game.
“But it is a big, big game and that’s good. There are more people at these press conferences, there are comments in the media, it’s got a bit of a tournament feel about it and that’s good experience for the players.”
“Their win in Dublin, coming from behind twice, was probably the performance of the championship so far. They are an all-round threat. Lineout drive, the scrum can squeeze you, good carriers, good speed. they can attack you in so many ways so we are looking for a big, big game.”
“In the last 18 months a group of young players have forced their way into the team with their performances and once in they’ve taken their chance. The foundations are there now and we’re starting to see it in games.”
15 Ben Foden (Northampton Saints)
14 Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints)
13 Mike Tindall (Gloucester Rugby, captain)
12 Shontayne Hape (Bath Rugby)
11 Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks)
10 Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers)
9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
1 Andrew Sheridan (Sale Sharks)
2 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
4 Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers)
5 Tom Palmer (Stade Francais)
6 Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)
7 James Haskell (Stade Francais)
8 Nick Easter (Harlequins)
16 Steve Thompson (Leeds Carnegie)
17 Alex Corbisiero (London Irish)
18 Simon Shaw (London Wasps)
19 Hendre Fourie (Leeds Carnegie)
20 Danny Care (Harlequins)
21 Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon)
22 Matt Banahan (Bath Rugby)