Rugby 2019 : England were magnificent as they opened World Cup year with a 32-20 demolition of Ireland at the Aviva Stadium. Next up in their pursuit of the Six Nations crown surrendered to the Irish last year is Sunday’s clash with France, with a Grand Slam in their sights after clearing the
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Chris Ashton will make his first Six Nations start since 2013 when England play France at Twickenham on Sunday.
The Sale wing, 31, replaces Exeter’s Jack Nowell, who drops to the bench.
Lock Courtney Lawes is promoted from the bench to replace the injured Maro Itoje in the second change from the starting XV that crushed Ireland in Dublin.
“After the Ireland game we have had to refocus and reset,” coach Eddie Jones said. “By Sunday we’ll be at our best.”
Props Dan Cole and Ben Moon as well as second row Joe Launchbury are named among the replacements along with Nowell.
Ashton, who spent years in the international wilderness following a series of suspensions and a move to France, returned to the England scene in November when he came off the bench against South Africa then scored a try against New Zealand.
“We have gone for Chris Ashton on the wing; we think he might sneak us a try early in the game,” Jones added.
“Jack Nowell was brilliant against Ireland and he’ll play a significant role for us off the bench.”
Ashton said he “never thought” he would play for England again while working as an analyst on television during last year’s Six Nations.
“When you’re younger and you’re in the team, you never think it’s going to be your last game,” he said.
“You think you’re going to have good, long years at it, but that wasn’t the case for me.