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Cole and Youngs to start the Six Nations

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Dan Cole and Ben Youngs have been named in the England side for the RBS 6 Nation's opener against France at Twickenham on Saturday (kick-off 4.50pm, ITV).

Cole, England’s third most capped prop behind Jason Leonard and Phil Vickery, will win cap number 70 for his country at HQ.
Scrum-half Youngs, England’s man of the series during the autumn internationals, will win his 66th cap. He partners George Ford at half-back.

Head coach Eddie Jones makes five changes to the starting XV that defeated Australia at the end of last year to complete an unbeaten 2016.

Elliot Daly (Wasps) starts on the left wing with Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby) installed on the right. In the scrum Joe Marler (Harlequins) packs down at loosehead prop, Joe Launchbury (Wasps) is named in the second-row and Maro Itoje (Saracens) starts at blindside flanker making up a match-day XV totalling 595 caps.

On the bench there are returns for loosehead prop Matt Mullan, flanker James Haskell (both Wasps) and wing Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs).

“We’ve been able to select a very strong and experienced team to play against France and we are excited to get the tournament underway,” said Jones.

“There’s a great rivalry between the countries so we’re looking forward to a great occasion playing against one of England’s oldest foes.

“In rugby terms you’ve traditionally got two contrasting styles – French flair and England’s dogged conservative approach, but we want to be absolutely daring against the French in this first game and set the standard for the tournament.

“Guy Noves likes a big team. He picks a traditional French forward pack with squat front-rowers who scrummage well, big locks who give a lot of ballast and athletic back-rowers. It’s based on size and crunching that gain line, getting an off-load and then playing with flair. Of course this gives you an opportunity when you’ve got a big forward pack against you and we intend to exploit that.”
England match-day 23 for the RBS 6 Nations game against France
15 Mike Brown (vice captain, Harlequins, 55 caps)
14 Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 22 caps)
13 Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 29 caps)
12 Owen Farrell (vice captain, Saracens, 47 caps)
11 Elliot Daly (Wasps, 8 caps)   
10 George Ford (Bath Rugby, 30 caps)
9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 65 caps)
1 Joe Marler (Harlequins, 46 caps)
2 Dylan Hartley (captain, Northampton Saints, 79 caps)
3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 69 caps)
4 Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 37 caps)  
5 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 53 caps)
6 Maro Itoje (Saracens, 7 caps)
7 Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 45 caps)
8 Nathan Hughes (Wasps, 3 caps)
16 Jamie George (Saracens, 12 caps)
17 Matt Mullan (Wasps, 13 caps)
18 Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 4 caps)
19 Teimana Harrison (Northampton Saints, 5 caps)
20 James Haskell (Wasps, 70 caps)
21 Danny Care (Harlequins, 66 caps)
22 Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors, 3 caps)
23 Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 18 caps)