Eddie Jones warns France will face an improved George Furbank this weekend


George Furbank returns to the place where he made his unfavorable England debut two years ago amid a warning to France that he has emerged as a far stronger player.

In anticipation of an airstrike on the Stade de France, Eddie Jones has selected Furbank at full-back to start Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations clash, while Freddie Steward moves to the right wing.

It will bolster England’s presence in the backfield with Jack Nowell, who can also operate in the 15 shirt, completing a back three aimed at negating the kicking game of the Grand Slam chasing hosts.

Furbank will make his first appearance at the tournament and his first in Paris since struggling in difficult conditions in a lost opening game at the 2020 Six Nations.

Another start against Scotland followed, but he was then dropped from the squad, with his total of five caps reflecting the 25-year-old Northampton defender’s inability to make a consistent selection.

“We see George as a valuable player for the future. In the modern game, as a full-back, he has all the repertoire to be successful,” Jones said.

“He can also step in on the fly-half, which we saw against Tonga in the autumn, and he’s doing that for his club.

“Because of the way France play, we think he is the best full-back and Freddie is the best winger for us. For this game. It is a one-time selection.

“It’s funny how the cycle goes. In two years, George has gone from debutant to the biggest game of his career to this stage – and he’s well equipped to handle it.

“Most young players go through some ups and downs. The ability to learn from the depths is so important, and the ability to utilize the resources in the environment is important.

“He’s a young player who had a difficult debut. He has used his club game and opportunities to come to England to continue to improve.

“What you will see on Saturday is a much better prepared player than two years ago.”

There are three new faces in the pack, with Kyle Sinckler recovering from the concussion he suffered against Ireland but limited to a bench role as a support for starting Will Stuart.

Sam Underhill is back at Openside for England (Mike Egerton/PA)

(PA wire)

Charlie Ewels’ red card in the 15-32 loss of round four means Nick Isiekwe makes his third start of the Six Nations on the second row, while Sam Underhill replaces hamstring victim Tom Curry at openside.

Underhill is making his first appearance since the fall after overcoming an injury, concussion and illness, and with one of Jones’ “Kamikaze Kids” in Curry missing, another steps in to take his place.

“After losing Tom Curry the timing of Sam Underhill being available and fit and ready to go is scary. We’ve been truly blessed in that area,” Jones said.

“Sam at his best is one of the best open side flankers in the world. His ability to chop tackle, his ability to get his head over the ball, his ability to be a strong ball carrier is second to none.

“He came back with a real swing in his stride. His job is to make sure he’s the best version of Sam Underhill on Saturday and I’m sure we’ll see that.” Eddie Jones warns France will face an improved George Furbank this weekend

Andrew Schnitker

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