Ahead of Eddie Jones’ team announcement this week, one of the big questions was whether captain Courtney Lawes would move into the second row again to play France following Charlie Ewels’ suspension.
Though Lawes has largely played on the flank for England in recent matches, the majority of his career has been in the engine room, and the majority of fans still see him as a lock. Those hopes of a positional switch did not come to fruition however, with the Northampton Saints man still set to start at blindside flanker at the Stade de France, with Nick Isiekwe coming in to replace Ewels.
A number of pundits, including former England head coach Sir Clive Woodward, were calling for Lawes to start at lock after he shifted there against Ireland and helped England win six scrum penalties, but Jones responded to those calls yesterday after naming his team.
“Well Courtney, we feel his best position is No6,” Jones said. “He can fill in at lock, but we don’t feel that’s his best position.”
That is fairly emphatic and is probably the best indication of where the 33-year-old will play from now until the World Cup next year.
ENGLAND XV15. George Furbank (Northampton Saints, 5 caps)14. Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 9 caps)13. Joe Marchant (Harlequins, 11 caps)12. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 47 caps)11. Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 38 caps)10. Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 9 caps)9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 116 caps)1. Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 35 caps)2. Jamie George (Saracens, 65 caps)3. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 19 caps)4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 55 caps)5. Nick Isiekwe (Saracens, 6 caps)6. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 92 caps)7. Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 27 caps)8. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 13 caps)
FINISHERS16. Nic Dolly (Leicester Tigers, 1 cap)17. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 78 caps)18. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 51 caps)19. Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers, 1 cap)20. Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins, 8 caps)21. Harry Randall (Bristol Bears, 5 caps)22. George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 80 caps)23. Elliot Daly (Saracens, 56 caps)