England team to face France in Six Nations

George Furbank in action for Northampton George Furbank has been highly influential in Northampton’s start to the Premiership (Darren Staples/PA)

England have sprung a surprise by naming Northampton debutant George Furbank at full-back for Sunday's Six Nations opener against France in Paris.

Furbank has been thrust into the starting XV as part of a reshuffled back three after Anthony Watson withdrew from contention on Thursday because of a calf injury.

The 23-year-old has been highly influential in Saints' superb start to the Gallagher Premiership with his speed, running lines and vision catching the eye of head coach Eddie Jones.

"We've picked a strong forward pack which is part of the England way and an exciting backline with young George Furbank playing his first Test," Jones said.

Furbank's inclusion appears to end the experiment of playing Elliot Daly at full-back, a position he has held since June 2018.

Daly was exposed during the World Cup final defeat by South Africa and he has been shifted to the left wing with Jonny May completing the back three, for which there is no cover on the bench.

Gloucester's Ollie Thorley has been jettisoned completely with Jonathan Joseph and Ollie Devoto the back-up threequarters.

Mako Vunipola is missing from the matchday 23 completely despite England stating on Wednesday that he was forced to miss that day's training session as a precautionary measure only.

Joe Marler starts at loosehead prop in his absence as one of three changes in personnel to the side toppled 32-12 by the Springboks in Yokohama last autumn.

Charlie Ewels comes into the second row and Courtney Lawes moves to blindside flanker with Tom Curry replacing broken-arm victim Billy Vunipola at number eight.

Bath prop Will Stuart is set to be the second uncapped player to make his debut at the Stade de France after being picked on the bench.

England team to play France

Forwards: 1 Joe Marler (Harlequins), 2 Jamie George (Saracens), 3 Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), 4 Maro Itoje (Saracens), 5 Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby), 6 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), 7 Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby), 8 Tom Curry (Sale Sharks)

Backs: 9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers), 10 George Ford (Leicester Tigers), 11 Elliot Daly (Saracens), 12 Owen Farrell (CAPTAIN, Saracens), 13 Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), 14 Jonny May (Leicester Tigers), 15 George Furbank (Northampton Saints)*

Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), 17 Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers), 18 Will Stuart (Bath Rugby)*, 19 George Kruis (Saracens), 20 Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints), 21 Willi Heinz (Gloucester Rugby), 22 Ollie Devoto (Exeter Chiefs), 23 Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby)

* Denotes uncapped player.

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