Lancaster happy to place young potential in the frame for Paris

England's Jack Nowell (right) and Jonny May after a training sessionEngland's Jack Nowell (right) and Jonny May after a training session
England's Jack Nowell (right) and Jonny May after a training session
England wing Jack Nowell may have been refused entrance to an 18 certificate film on Wednesday night, but Stuart Lancaster insists he is part of an untested trio that is ready for the Stade de France.

Nowell and Huddersfield-born outside centre Luther Burrell will win their first caps in tomorrow’s RBS Six Nations game with France, while Jonny May makes his second international appearance on the left wing.

It is a bold selection that Lancaster has based on “consistency, form and potential” and the head coach is convinced they will enter a pivotal Championship opener in Paris with a mindset unburdened by fear.

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The three-quarter line contains only nine caps, eight of which belong to Billy Twelvetrees, and England’s willingness to give youth its head was evident at a cinema local to the squad’s Surrey training base 12 hours before the team was announced.

Arriving to watch The Wolf of Wall Street with Tom Johnson and Henry Thomas, 20-year-old Nowell’s lack of ID meant he was turned away.

“I was really excited to go. Tom and Henry got their tickets and I paid for mine last, but the woman said ‘sorry, I need to see your ID’,” said Nowell.

“I checked to see the film was an 18 and not a 15 just in case. I didn’t have any ID on me so I had to go back to the hotel to get some.

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“We had to watch the showing an hour later... with my passport in my back pocket.”

Lancaster highlights the dwindling number of games – 20 – left until the 2015 World Cup to explain his willingness to pick Nowell, Burrell and May against the favourites.

It is a risky approach to what is possibly the toughest fixture in the Six Nations, but Lancaster reckons inexperience also has its benefits.

“The upside is that they have no fear. There is no fear factor that sometimes can build during players’ careers in international rugby,” he said.

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“Ultimately I’ve gone with my gut instinct which was probably formulated after watching training on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday last week.

“I had a bit of time to think about it over the weekend. Form, potential and consistency of performance in the Premiership and Europe have been factors.

“Leading up to our camp there was a lot of analysis that we did on the games, both objective analysis and in terms of stats. And there’s the subjective feel you have from what you’ve seen in the games.

“There’s the opinions of the directors of rugby whose counsel I trust, and then you come into camp and you get a feel for whether a player is ready.

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“My instincts after the three days told me that Jack, Luther and Jonny were ready.”

Former Leeds Carnegie back Burrell has impressed throughout the season for Northampton, where he has been playing inside centre, and starts ahead of Brad Barritt, who is included on the bench.

Nowell, the tackle-busting Exeter wing, has benefited from injuries to Marland Yarde and Christian Wade to seize the 
No 14 jersey from the axed Chris Ashton.

Gloucester’s elusive runner May made his debut against Argentina during last summer’s tour.

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“Luther has played exceptionally well for his club and has played in a Premiership final and big European games,” said Lancaster.

“Watching Jack against Toulon told me that he’s ready.

“He breaks tackles and beats defenders.

“Jonny is a great broken-field runner with good footwork and incredible pace. He’s scored some great tries.”

Lancaster confirmed that Alex Goode, who has been included on the bench, is the preferred choice to supply fly-half cover to Owen Farrell, with Twelvetrees also an option.

Twelvetrees has been backed to be Lancaster’s starting inside centre at the 2015 World Cup, by World Cup-winning centre Will Greenwood.

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Greenwood believes Gloucester playmaker Twelvetrees has ousted Brad Barritt as England’s first-choice 12.

Former British Lions centre Greenwood now expects the 24-year-old to play the majority of England’s Test matches, to build the experience to thrive on home turf in 2015.

“It took a lot of time for (New Zealand’s) Ma’a Nonu to get there, it doesn’t tend to happen overnight for the top stars,” said Greenwood.

“I see enough in Billy Twelvetrees to get the confidence to be able to fill that role.

“He’s got 18 months; he’s clearly Stuart’s number one 12.

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“And if Gloucester can find themselves in Europe next year, then he can have access to those high-level, high-intensity games that help you progress quickly.”

Stade Francais fly-half Jules Plisson will make his France debut tomorrow.

The 22-year-old has won Les Bleus coach Philippe Saint-Andre’s vote for the playmaker role in a team captained by Plisson’s club colleague Pascal Pape.

Pape takes over leadership duties from flanker Thierry Dusautoir, who suffered a biceps injury in Heineken Cup action earlier this month and will miss the entire Six Nations tournament.

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With Dusautoir sidelined, Racing Metro openside Bernard Le Roux is called up for the Stade de France game. He will pack down alongside experienced back-row colleagues Yannick Nyanga and Louis Picamoles.