Anthony Watson starts for England in only change for Autumn Nations Cup Final against France

Will Macpherson
·2 min read
<p>Anthony Watson has replaced injured Bath team-mate Jonathan Joseph in England’s starting XV</p> (REUTERS)

Anthony Watson has replaced injured Bath team-mate Jonathan Joseph in England’s starting XV

(REUTERS)

England’s most experienced team ever will meet a France side containing just 68 caps in the Autumn Nations Cup Final in front of 2,000 fans at Twickenham on Sunday.

But Eddie Jones says England do not dare take their callow opposition lightly, saying “you can never underestimate a French team”.

He believes this French group is “capable of great things”. Jones named his side on Friday morning and made just one enforced change from the team that beat Wales last weekend - England’s seventh win on the spin.

That change saw Anthony Watson come in for Jonathan Joseph, who has a calf injury, on the right wing.

Jones changed the balance of his bench, however. Last week he selected six forwards and two backs, but now returns to five and three respectively, with Wasps’ Jack Willis dropping out of the squad.

Max Malins and Harlequins centre Joe Marchant, who has been injured, come onto the bench.

With 813 caps, this is England’s most experienced starting XV. That sits in stark contrast to France, who named a team showing six changes to the XV that beat Italy last Saturday – and 15 from the side that beat England in February.

An agreement with the Top 14 clubs means that each player is only able to play three of France’s six international matches and leaves coach Fabien Galthie without most of his key stars. The XV Galthie named has just 68 caps between them and is captained by scrum-half Baptiste Couilloud, who is one of four players making their first start. No8 Selevasio Tolofua makes his debut.

"They’re a strong team, a very strong team,” said Jones. “You just have to look at 2009 when they went on tour to New Zealand, the first game of the three they didn’t have a lot of senior players available and they won that Test and lost the next two.

<p>Joseph misses out with a calf issue, having been a regular for England throughout the Autumn Nations Cup</p>AFP via Getty Images

Joseph misses out with a calf issue, having been a regular for England throughout the Autumn Nations Cup

AFP via Getty Images

“We know that the French are capable of great things, they have great depth in the Top 14 and particularly at the moment they are on a project to win the World Cup in 2023, this is just part of the project.

“Of course we respect French rugby. You can never underestimate a French team. History shows on that 2009 tour what they are capable of doing.”

Jones said England could not wait to play in front of fans again, even though there will be just 2,000 at Twickenham, which can hold more than 80,000 people.

The Autumn Nations Cup will be available to stream on Amazon Prime Video from November 13.

Get in on the action by subscribing to Amazon Prime. It costs £7.99 a month, £79 a year or try a 30-day free trial.

Read More

Watson: Winning Autumn Nations Cup over France would be huge for us

England vs France: Autumn Nations Cup Final preview

Jones dismisses fears over ‘boring’ rugby as ‘alarmist and silly’

Vunipola backs fans’ return to restore rugby’s excitement