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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Eddie Jones Warns France Will Face An Improved George Furbank In Six Nations Final

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George Furbank returns to the stage where he made his inauspicious England debut two years ago amid a warning to France that he has become a much more potent player.

Anticipating an aerial attack at the Stade de France, Eddie Jones selected Furbank to start Saturday’s Six Nations clash at right back with Freddie Steward moving to the right flank.

He will add to England’s presence in the backfield with Jack Nowell, who can also operate in the 15 shirt, completing a three-pointer designed to deny the kicking game of the Grand Slam-chasing hosts.

Furbank will make his first appearance at the tournament and his first in Paris since struggling in difficult conditions amid an opening loss in the 2020 Six Nations.

Another start against Scotland followed, but he was then dropped from the squad with a total of five caps reflecting the 25-year-old Northampton running back’s inability to nail down a consistent selection.

“We see George as a valuable player in the future. In the modern game, in terms of a full-back, he has all the repertoire to be successful,” said Jones.

“He can also fill in as a fly-half, which we saw against Tonga in the fall, and he’s been doing that for his club.

“The way France play, we think he is the best full-back and Freddie is the best winger for us. for this game It is a unique selection.

“It’s funny how the cycle goes. In two years, George has gone from being a rookie to playing the biggest game of his career to this stage, and he is well equipped to handle it.

“Most young players go through ups and downs. The ability to learn from the ups and downs is very important, and the ability to use the resources around you is important.

“He is a young player who had a difficult debut. He has used his club game and his opportunities to come to England to continue to improve.

“What you will see on Saturday is a much better prepared player than you saw two years ago.”

There are three new faces in the group, with Kyle Sinckler recovering from the concussion suffered against Ireland but limited to a bench role as support for starter Will Stuart.

Charlie Ewels’ red card in a 32-15 fourth-round loss means Nick Isiekwe makes his third Six Nations start in the second row, while Sam Underhill replaces the hamstring injury victim Tom Curry on the open side.

Underhill makes his first appearance since the fall after overcoming injury, concussion and illness, and as one of Jones’s ‘Kamikaze Kids’ is ruled out at Curry, another steps in to take his place.

“After losing Tom Curry, the timing of having Sam Underhill available and fit and ready to go is amazing. We’ve really been blessed in that area,” Jones said.

“Sam at his best is one of the best wide backs in the world. His ability to cut the tackle, his ability to get his head over the ball, his ability to be a powerful ball carrier, is second to none.

“He has returned with a real spring in his step. His job is to make sure he’s the best version of Sam Underhill on Saturday and I’m sure we’ll see that.”

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