England’s Chris Ashton to face France in Six Nations clash

Chris Ashton celebrates scoring a try for England

Chris Ashton us a try-scoring machine Credit getty images

Ashton was one of two changes made to the starting XV from England's win in Ireland after he was named ahead of Jack Nowell, who was described by Jones as "absolutely outstanding" in their Six Nations opener.

Ashton, 31, has swapped places with Jack Nowell, just as he did for the New Zealand game, on the back of Jones's gut feeling.

A year on from being in French exile and doing punditry duty during the Six Nations, Ashton has been charged with scoring early against France having proven to Eddie Jones he has an "unrelenting desire" to play for England.

'Jack Nowell was brilliant against Ireland and he'll play a significant role for us off the bench. Joe Launchbury brings more second-row bulk to the bench.

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"It was feared Itoje's knee injury would put him out of both the France and Wales games, but Jones revealed he was optimistic the Saracens lock would be back for the showdown in Cardiff in two weeks" time. Joe Launchbury will fill the vacancy on the bench.

Winger Joe Cokanasiga and flanker Brad Shields were the men trimmed from Jones's provisional squad.

It will be Ashton's first Six Nations start since 2013.

The rugby league convert has had to sit and watch five consecutive Six Nations tournaments since his last championship appearance - admittedly not one he wants to remember - and despite finding his feet in France by breaking the Top 14 record for most tries in a single season with his 24 in 23 matches, the carrot was dangled to return with Sale Sharks and reignite his global career. "Players have been very good and certainly by Sunday we'll be at our best", Jones said. It's hard to prepare tactically against them so we have had a real focus on ourselves.

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They have made six changes, including the return of giant centre Mathieu Bastareaud.

Rugby is an unpredictable beast and Chris Ashton knows that better than most. We have always had a high opinion of him as a player.

Ashton, who spent years in the global wilderness following a series of suspensions and a move to France, returned to the England scene in November when he came off the bench against South Africa then scored a try against New Zealand.

It is a fearless move selecting Bamba at prop for such a big game ahead of Atonio, who has 32 test caps, especially considering Bamba's only two global appearances were from the bench and he will be up against Mako Vunipola. Jamie George, 3. Kyle Sinckler, 4. Reps: L Cowan-Dickie, B Moon, D Cole, J Launchbury, N Hughes, D Robson, G Ford, J Nowell.

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