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France v England: Eddie Jones’ plan to win Six Nations opener


Virimi Vakatawa scored two tries for France at the 2019 World Cup
Six Nations: France v England
Venue: Stade de France, Paris Date: Sunday 2 February Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Live video, radio and text on BBC One, BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and the BBC Sport website and app.

Eddie Jones says England want to put France’s dangerous backs “in a box” and make them experience pressure “they have never felt before” when the sides meet in the Six Nations on Sunday.

France have picked an explosive set of three-quarters for the Paris showdown, with Racing 92’s Virimi Vakatawa among those in sparkling form.

But England’s coach has vowed to make it an uncomfortable game for the hosts.

“We want to make sure we keep turning them around,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“We want to put them in a box and make it hard for them to get quick ball, put pressure on them, and make them experience pressure like they have never felt before.”

Why Jones picked Furbank to face France

Jones has selected the bulk of the side that lost the Rugby World Cup final in November, with prop Joe Marler, lock Charlie Ewels and rookie full-back George Furbank the only players who did not start against South Africa in Yokohama.

Earlier in the week Jones warned about the ‘curse’ of the beaten World Cup finalists, and has set England the lofty ambition of being the greatest team in rugby history; an “exciting challenge”, according to captain Owen Farrell.

Conversely France are vastly less experienced, with lock Bernard Le Roux the only 30-year-old in the squad and centre Gael Fickou the only man with more than 50 caps.

But while the tight five is raw, a number of the backline – Antoine Dupont, Romain Ntamack, Fickou, Vakatawa and Damian Penaud – started the narrow Rugby World Cup quarter-final defeat by Wales in Oita.

“It’s interesting but very traditional in a lot of ways. It’s a big, heavy tight five, an athletic back row, nine and 10 as distributors and running outside backs,” Jones added.

“While there might not be many caps to their name, it’s a very traditional French team.”

‘Expect a ferocious battle’

Jones said earlier in the week that England would bring “brutal physicality” to Paris, but France coach Fabien Galthie has promised his side “have a plan” to deal with the visitors.

“Expect a ferocious battle to win the ball,” Galthie said. “Expect my players to stand their ground with ferocious tackles and collisions. They will play with passion and go beyond their limits.”

Jones has operated a shortened training camp before the tournament, mindful of the workload on his players following the World Cup, and admits the players are not at their physical peak.

“We decided to get the players in later given we are coming back from a World Cup,” Jones explained.

“A lot of the players have been back into club rugby so we have had a look at what they need. We won’t be physically at our best on Sunday but we will be good enough.”

Captain Farrell says England must “expect the unexpected” at the Stade de France, mindful of the French threat.

“What comes with that is a load of concentration, and making sure we are engaged for 80 minutes,” Farrell said.

“There is no bigger game for us than the first one. It’s a brilliant opportunity for us.”



Article courtesy of BBC Sport
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