England coach Jones and skipper Farrell back 'impressive' and 'composed' Furbank to pass his French test

Coach Eddie Jones and skipper Owen Farrell are in no doubt Saints' George Furbank will be able to handle the pressure of his England debut in the cauldron of the Stade de France on Sunday (ko 3pm).

Friday, 31st January 2020, 4:03 pm
Updated Friday, 31st January 2020, 4:10 pm
Eddie Jones and Owen Farrell face the media in Paris

The Saints academy product was the surprise selection in the team for England's Six Nations opener against France, but Jones has stated he believes the 23-year-old has the necessary composure to handle what can be one of the most hostile environments in international rugby.

Furbank's selection appears to signal the end of Elliot Daly's 18-month spell at full-back for England, and the Saints ace has been given the number 15 jersey on the strength of his exhilarating form for Chris Boyd's men this season.

A reshuffle of the back three enforced by Anthony Watson's calf injury sees Daly move to the left wing and Jonny May line up on the right for the showdown in Paris.

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George Furbank will start for England against France in Paris on Sunday

"George is just a good rugby player," said Jones. "He reads the game well, he's decisive, has good core skills, runs good lines. He's a very impressive young fella.

"He's been very confident from what I've seen of him. He handles the pressure of games and handles the pressure of training.

"Nothing seems to faze him too much so he'll just get on with it, I believe."

Huntingdon-born Furbank has caught Jones' eye with his performances for the high-flying Saints, and also during his week at England's pre-Six Nations camp in Portugal.

That was where he was tested in training by skipper and fly-half Farrell, and the Saracens man has been impressed by how Furbank has risen to any challenge kicked his way.

"George is very calm, which is a big strength, especially at full-back," said Farrell.

"We trained against each other quite a lot over the course of this camp and any time anyone has seemed to put him under pressure, he's been at his calmest.

"That gives off a brilliant feeling."

Furbank will be joined in the England team by Saints club-mate Courtney Lawes, who moves to blindside flanker, with Tom Curry replacing broken-arm victim Billy Vunipola at number eight.

That means another Saint, Lewis Ludlam, has to settle for a place on the replacements' bench.

Elsewhere in the Six Nations, Saints fly-half Dan Biggar starts for Wales in their clash against Italy in Cardiff on Saturday (ko 2.15pm), and club-mate Rory Hutchinson is on the replacements' bench for Scotland's trip to the Aviva Stadium in Dublin later the same day to play Ireland (ko 4.45pm).

The Wales versus Italy and France versus England games are both being screened live on BBC1, while the Ireland versus Scotland game is on ITV.