Anthony Watson the only change made by England for Autumn Nations Cup final

Anthony Watson will start on the right wing for England against France in this weekend’s Autumn Nations Cup final, as head coach Eddie Jones names his squad.

The British & Irish Lion replaces the injured Jonathan Joseph who has dropped out of the squad due to a calf issue.

England face France at Twickenham in the final after winning all three Pool A matches against Georgia, Ireland and Wales.

Owen Farrell will lead the side from inside centre as Jones continues with George Ford at fly-half, with Henry Slade donning the No.13 jersey once more.

The pack is unchanged meaning Tom Curry, Sam Underhill and Billy Vunipola form the back row, the ninth time they have done so since being a dominant force at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Unlike against Wales last weekend, Jones has abandoned the six-two split on the bench as Jack Willis drops out to allow Joe Marchant to offer a back replacement option.

Bath prop Will Stuart keeps his place as the tighthead option despite Harry Williams being called into the squad, with Luke Cowan-Dickie and Ellis Genge also among the replacements.

Jones said: “We’re really looking forward to this final, playing France and having another chance to win a trophy this autumn.
 
“We’d like to congratulate the tournament organisers on putting this on in difficult circumstances.
 
“Over the past two months the players have put in real effort, worked very hard on and off the pitch and have met the protocols and new ways of working.
 
“This has been another positive learning week with tough, hard training and we’re looking forward to getting on the pitch in front of our fans and playing a good game of rugby.”

As for France, head coach Fabien Galthie has had to select a team that is without a number of senior players due to their parent clubs not making them available.

French governing body FFR and club league organisers LNR came to a detente after holding legal talks prior to the competition to allow players to be released for national duty for three matches over the autumn.

As a result of players reaching this limit, Galthie has sprinkled in a number of former France Under-20 players in light of stars Antoine Dupont, Camille Chat and Gregory Alldritt all returning to their clubs.

Loosehead prop Hassane Kolingar comes in to start in place of Rodrigue Neti, who drops to the bench. While fellow World Rugby U20 Championship winner Kilian Geraci wins his second cap to partner Baptiste Pesenti in the second row.

Les Bleus will be captained by Lyon scrum-half Baptiste Couilloud on the occasion of his first start for France, leading a side that is dwarfed by the number of caps their opponents boast.

As Jonathan Danty is declared fit to start after impressing in France’s 36-5 win over Italy, Galthie hands a debut to No.8 Selevasio Tolofua and first starts to centre Yoram Moefana and hooker Pierre Bourgarit.


England team to play France in the Autumn Nations Cup final (Sunday, 2pm kick-off, Amazon Prime Video)

England: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Owen Farrell (capt), 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Mako Vunipola, 2 Jamie George, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Joe Launchbury, 6 Tom Curry, 7 Sam Underhill, 8 Billy Vunipola

Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Jonny Hill, 20 Ben Earl, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Max Malins, 23 Joe Marchant

France: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Alivereti Raka , 13 Yoram Moefana, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Gabin Villiere, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Baptiste Couilloud (capt); 1 Hassane Kolingar, 2 Pierre Bougarit, 3 Dorian Aldgheri, 4 Killian Geraci, 5 Baptiste Pesenti, 6 Cameron Woki, 7 Anthony Jelonch, 8 Selevasio Tolofua

Replacements: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Rodrigue Neti, 18 Uini Atonio, 19 Guillaume Ducat, 20 Sekou Macalou, 21 Sebastien Bezy, 22 Louis Carbonel, 23 Pierre-Louis Barassi

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