- England Head Coach speaks about five of his starters against France
- Hear how Burrell, May, Nowell, Care and Marler made the side
Before naming his match-day 23 to take on France in Paris, Stuart Lancaster spoke exclusively to RFUtv about five pivotal selection decisions heading into the RBS 6 Nations opener.
Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints centre, uncapped)
"He's impressed over the last 24 months, actually. I’ve known him since he was 15 and it was a nice moment to tell him face-to-face that he was going to get his first cap.
"With his move to Northampton he’s got consistent rugby and he’s grown in confidence. He’s worked hard on his conditioning and he’s now a good, strong athlete with skills as well. Everyone at Saints deserves credit.
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"You’ve got to have people that get over the gainline and stop them getting over the gainline but there’s more to his game than that – he’s got kicking and distribution too. Alongside Billy Twelvetrees, he forms a robust centre partnership."
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby wing, one cap)
"He’s played some big games recently and he’s done really well. We’ve always known his pace offers a point of difference – he’s electric with the ball in hand and his footwork is outstanding.
"He first came to South Africa with us [in 2012] and did brilliantly before suffering a few injuries. Then he did well again in Argentina in the second Test after being given a few hours’ notice when Christian Wade was called up to the Lions.
"That form has carried on for Gloucester and recently he scored a fantastic try against Perpignan. He can score tries out of nothing and I feel the time’s right for his opportunity."
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs wing, uncapped)
"Jack beats defenders – I think he has close to the highest number of beaten defenders in the Aviva Premiership. He’s powerful and quick and is a great footballer. Having spent time at full back, he’s good under the high ball and is positionally good as well as brave and courageous.
"The time is right for him as his temperament is good. He’s been to a World Cup final and won it with England Under 20. Against Toulon for Exeter in the Heineken Cup he was opposite Bryan Habana and ended up as one of the stand-out players.
Danny Care (Harlequins scrum half, 42 caps)
"Danny took board the feedback we gave him about his game in October. He was obviously disappointed to miss out on the [QBE Internationals] initially. His form has been exceptional and he’s always been to beat people and create things. We felt his game management and kicking needed working on and he has done that.
"It was a difficult decision because it’s a very competitive position and whichever way I’d have gone, it would have been tough on the guy missing out. It’s tough on Ben – he’s a great player and I’m sure he’ll be back."
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Joe Marler (Harlequins prop, 15 caps)
"I think the modern game dictates that you need two world-class looseheads. In that regard, we have two in the making. We feel Joe is the better player to start and that Mako [Vunipola]’s impact will cause problems for the French in the second half.
"We need to match them physically, win our own scrum ball and cause problems on theirs."