Marcus Smith will be involved in Le Crunch for England
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England face a fascinating test of the progress they have made under Steve Borthwick as they welcome France to Twickenham for Le Crunch in Round 4 of the Six Nations.
Borthwick’s side have bounced back well from a disheartening opening-round defeat to Scotland with wins over Italy and Wales but Fabien Galthie’s France will be a different proposition altogether entirely. The reigning grand slam champions may have lost to Ireland three weeks ago but are still in contention for the championship and have been one of the top two sides in the world over the past 18 months.
Borthwick is set to make his boldest team selection call yet by dropping captain Owen Farrell to the bench, with Marcus Smith starting at fly half instead. After abandoning the Smith-Farrell 10-12 axis that Eddie Jones preferred following that loss to Scotland, Farrell has owned the No 10 jersey but his struggles, especially from the kicking tee, means the coach is going in a bold new direction.
Meanwhile France – who are looking for a first win at Twickenham under Galthie – welcome back centre Jonathan Danty from injury in place of Yoram Moefana. Francois Cros also replaces the injured Anthony Jelonch in the back row and suspended prop Mohamed Haouas makes way for Dorian Aldegheri to complete the three changes from the win over Scotland last time out.
Here’s everything you need to know about Le Crunch:
When is England vs France?
The match will kick off at 4.45pm GMT on Saturday 11 March at Twickenham Stadium, London.
What TV channel is it on?
It will be shown live on ITV 1 and STV 1, with coverage starting from 4.15pm. It will also be available to be streamed live on the ITV online platform.
England XV [PREDICTED]: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Max Malins, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Lawrence, 11 Anthony Watson, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Jack van Poortvliet; 1 Ellis Genge (c), 2 Jamie George, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Ollie Chessum, 6 Lewis Ludlam, 7 Jack Willis, 8 Alex Dombrandt
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Dan Cole, 19 David Ribbans, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Alex Mitchell, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Henry Arundell
France XV: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gaël Fickou, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Ethan Dumortier, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont (c); 1 Cyril Baille, 2 Julien Marchand, 3 Dorian Aldegheri, 4 Thibaud Flament, 5 Paul Willemse, 6 Francois Cros, 7 Charles Ollivon, 8 Grégory Alldritt
Replacements: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Reda Wardi, 18 Sipili Falatea, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Sekou Macalou, 21 Maxime Lucu, 22 Yoram Moefana, 23 Melvyn Jaminet
Odds (provided by Betfair)
England win: 13/10
France win: 8/11
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