England are relishing their Six Nations finale against France, insists Eddie Jones – as head coach declares ‘there’s no better opportunity to show what a good team we can be’ ahead of clash
- England travel to France in their final game of this year’s Six Nations tournament
- A victory for France will see them become Six Nations and Grand Slam winners
- England could finish fifth for the second-straight year in the table if they lose
Eddie Jones told his England team they must prove how good they can be when they face Grand Slam-chasing France in Saturday’s Six Nations finale.
Jones recalled Wasps flanker Jack Willis ahead of the trip to the Stade de France on Monday and hailed the 25-year-old’s resilience after his recovery from a horror knee injury.
Willis hasn’t played Test rugby since being carried off against Italy at Twickenham in the 2021 Six Nations. He has been called up by Jones to bolster England’s back-row resources after Tom Curry was ruled out of the France game with a hamstring injury suffered against Ireland.
Eddie Jones has laid down the gauntlet to his England side ahead of their clash with France
Jones has also admitted that Bath flanker Sam Underhill – who remains part of his squad – is not yet fit enough for international rugby after his recent return from injury and illness.
‘He’s shown a lot of resilience and a lot of determination,’ Jones said of Willis. ‘I was really pleased watching him play against Northampton. We know he’s a player of great promise and he’s still only 25 years of age. To come back from such a difficult injury is a great testament to his resilience.
‘I’m sure he’s going to add value to the squad. We’ve got one chance left to go against France who are playing for a Grand Slam at their home ground.
‘There is no better opportunity to show what a good team we can be. It’s a test, the next test, and the most important test. We’re looking forward to it.
‘We’re playing against a French team that’s undefeated in the Six Nations. It’s a good opportunity for us to find out where we’re at.’
England head to the Stade de France looking to end their campaign on a high after two defeats
France (pictured) will win the Six Nations with a win over England in the Super Saturday finale
ENGLAND’S 34-MAN SQUAD FOR FRANCE
Forwards: Alfie Barbeary, Jamie Blamire, Ollie Chessum, Nic Dolly, Alex Dombrandt, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Joe Heyes, Maro Itoje, Nick Isiekwe, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Joe Marler, Sam Simmonds, Kyle Sinckler, Will Stuart, Sam Underhill, Jack Willis.
Backs: Orlando Bailey. Elliot Daly, George Ford, George Furbank, Ollie Hassell-Collins, Louis Lynagh, Max Malins, Joe Marchant, Alex Mitchell, Luke Northmore, Jack Nowell, Harry Randall, Henry Slade, Marcus Smith, Freddie Steward, Ben Youngs
Willis has been named in a 34-man England squad ahead of the France game.
Jones’ side were beaten 32-15 by Ireland at Twickenham last Saturday after lock Charlie Ewels was sent off after just 82 seconds.
The result means England could yet finish fifth in the Six Nations for the second successive year if they are beaten by France.
Fabien Galthie’s side have won all four of their games so far and are just 80 minutes away from what would be a first Grand Slam and Championship title since 2010.
‘They’re a very good team and have a very good tactical approach to the game,’ Jones said of France. ‘They use the strengths of their players well. They’re well coached. They’ve got power and pace and skill around the ruck.’
Jones revealed he will assess whether Willis will be fit to face France when England train on Tuesday.
Asked what he learned from the Ireland defeat, he added: ‘Enormous pride from the team’s performance. I think if you take out the first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes, we probably shaded Ireland and played with a lot of tactical discipline, determination, and togetherness.
‘I think the 82,000 people out there enjoyed what they saw, but we’re disappointed with the result. ‘We’ve got a nice mix of experienced players and younger players coming through. We’ll learn a lot from that game, particularly in closing that game down when we had the opportunity to.
‘It was a great learning curve for the players and shows the young players coming through are going to be very good players in the future.’
Jack Willis is back in the England squad after playing well for Wasps and overcoming injuries
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