LONDON – England will make at least three changes to their match-day squad for the Six Nations clash against France after Ellis Genge and Harry Williams were dropped on Wednesday.
Genge and Williams played in the closing stages of Saturday’s 32-20 victory over Ireland.
But the props have been excluded by England coach Eddie Jones from his 25-man squad for the meeting with France at Twickenham on Sunday.
Genge’s place at loosehead has been taken by Ben Moon, who excelled during the autumn, while Williams has lost out to veteran tighthead Dan Cole.
Moon and Cole are known for their expertise at the scrum, which will be fully tested by France’s heavyweight tight five to potentially explain their recall by Jones.
If he makes an appearance on the pitch, Cole will be winning his first cap since being dropped after last year’s Six Nations.
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Maro Itoje’s knee injury means England must make one enforced change in the second row and a new option in the back five mix is Brad Shields, who has recovered from a side strain to take Itoje’s spot in the 25.
Potentially making his Six Nations debut will be giant Bath wing Joe Cokanasiga, who has displaced Mike Brown in the final cut before Jones names his starting XV on Friday.
Also missing is Ben Te’o with the Worcester centre losing out to Manu Tuilagi.
England have yet to set a date for Dylan Hartley’s return from his knee injury despite the Northampton hooker reporting to the squad’s Surrey base to continue his rehabilitation.
Hartley has not played since December 21 because of the issue and the co-captain had been pencilled in for a return in the round three match against Wales at the earliest.
"Dylan’s been in for two days of rehab. It’s good to see him. He’s in a good place to return at some point, although we’re unsure when that point will be," England assistant John Mitchell said.
"He looks in really good shape and that reflects well on this environment and is a good advert for him as a leader – showing that when you’re out you can still look after yourself and present yourself in good shape."
Agence France-Presse (AFP)