Lancaster sticks with victorious 23 while Warburton returns to the Welsh bench

Stuart Lancaster has announced the same 23 man squad that played defeated Ireland will be involved again for England against France this weekend, though the make up of the starting XV has yet to be decided upon.

Lancaster has released twelve players, Mouritz Botha, Will Fraser, David Strettle, Joel Tompkins, Lee Dickson, Ben Foden, Matt Kvesic, Ben Morgan, Alex Corbsiero, Elliot Daly, Henry Thomas and the injured Billy Vunipola, back to their club sides this weekend.

Within the 23 man squad though there will be some interesting battles between players for the starting positions after the likes of Mako Vunipola, Danny Care and Toby Flood performed outstandingly well for their club sides at the weekend.

England have won both of their Six Nations matches so far, against Scotland and Ireland, while France have lost both of theirs, against Italy and Wales, however the England management were keen to avoid any complacency, with Graham Rowntree saying:

“It will change the whole complexion of their championship if they win, and the way they will challenge us is through their forward pack.”

“There is never a weak French scrum, and as an outfit, regardless of results, that area of the game is something we always respect.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing England will be the expected backlash from an obviously wounded and angry French side, with Head Coach Phillipe Saint Andre saying that he ‘can’t wait’:

“We will need to bring enthusiasm and confidence into the game,” said Saint-Andre. “We will not beat England by doing nothing. Going to Twickenham is a fantastic challenge.

“I want to be proud of a team who will go there to give 120% of what they have. You can’t dream of a better stage – 80,000 supporters with all the folklore that goes with it. I can’t wait.”

Wales meanwhile have confirmed their team to play Italy in Rome on Saturday. Rob Howley had stated last week that the same XV that defeated France would start against Italy and he has stuck true to that statement.

Therefore the only changes for Wales are on the bench where fit again Alun Wyn Jones comes in as a replacement lock for Lou Reed leaving Andrew Coombs, who has impressed so much, in the number four shirt.

Sam Warburton also returns to the squad after missing the trip to France with an injury, he will have to bide his time on the bench though as Justin Tipuric starts at openside.

England squad vs France, Twickenham 17.00, Saturday:

Forwards:

Joe Marler (Harlequins), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Tom Youngs (Leicester), Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Dan Cole (Leicester), David Wilson (Bath), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Geoff Parling (Leicester), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), James Haskell (Wasps), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, captain), Tom Wood (Northampton), Thomas Waldrom (Leicester). 

Backs:

Ben Youngs (Leicester), Danny Care (Harlequins), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Toby Flood (Leicester), Blly Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Brad Barritt (Saracens), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Chris Ashton (Saracens), Alex Goode (Saracens).

Wales Team vs Italy:

15. Leigh Halfpenny, 14. Alex Cuthbert, 13. Jonathon Davies, 12. Jamie Roberts, 11. George North, 10. Dan Biggar, 9. Mike Phillips; 1. Gethin Jenkins, 2. Richard Hibbard, 3. Adam Jones, 4. Andrew Coombs, 5. Ian Evans, 6. Ryan Jones (captain), 7. Justin Tipuric, 8. Toby Faletau.

Replacements: 16. Ken Owens, 17. Paul James, 18. Craig Mitchell, 19. Alun Wyn Jones, 20. Sam Warburton, 21. Lloyd Williams, 22. James Hook, 23. Scott Williams.

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