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England 14:30 New Zealand

Six Nations: Stuart Lancaster is confident England debutants will cope in Paris

Last Updated: 30/01/14 10:20pm

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England head coach Stuart Lancaster is backing his new-look three-quarter line to cope with the cauldron-like atmosphere in France.

The Red Rose head to Paris for Saturday's Six Nations opener with centre Luther Burrell and centre Jack Nowell set for their first caps, while Jonny May will be making just his second international appearance on the opposite wing.

Lancaster, though, is unfazed by questions over the timing of the shake-up, and said: "We're hugely excited about the game and looking forward to going to Paris this afternoon.

"Obviously you've seen the side. It's one we are very excited about. There were some really tough selection decisions heading into this game but I think consistency, form and potential have all played their part in it.

"From my point of view, I started two years ago and we had seven new caps go to Murrayfield. I've always believed that if a player's ready and deserving of an opportunity, then we'll give it to them.

"The lists goes on of players who have made their debuts. You've got to make your debut at some point. Luther Burrell is ready for the opportunity - he's done exceptionally well for his club and played in big European games.

"Jonny May has one cap and it's a big opportunity for him. You watch Jack Nowell playing against Toulon Bryan Habana and these sorts of guys and I think he's ready and that now's the time.

"There's great potential in them. You can see in the tries May has scored that he's a great broken-field runner with great pace and footwork. Nowell on the other wing is different - he breaks tackles, beats defenders and used to play full-back so is great under the high ball.

"Burrell has been around a bit longer. He's someone I've known since he was 15 and it was a great pleasure to me to tell him he was playing."


Further queries were made over the absence of a specialist fly-half on the bench and the decisions to omit the experience of scrum-half Ben Youngs and wing Chris Ashton.

But Lancaster added: "We've got Billy Twelvetrees who played 10 for Gloucester not so long ago and did it well. We've also got Alex Goode, who Saracens have used as a 10 in the same situation. He was always a 10 throughout his development.

"I've said to Chris Ashton that I've been really pleased in the development he's made since November. Saracens have done a fantastic job in developing him and he's playing well. My message to him is to keep working on the little things all players have to work on.

"I've always played Chris on that right wing and now I want to have the opportunity to see someone else. We are 20 games out from a World Cup and I'm sure Chris will come back after Sunday, will be training well and fight for a place against Scotland.

"The same goes for Ben Youngs. Scrum-half was the most competitive position of all when you put Richard Wigglesworth in the equation. He's trained exceptionally well and played well for Saracens. In that position, we've gone for the form players.

"Danny Care suffered the disappointment of not being involved in the first game in the autumn. We gave him some areas to work on - his game management and his kicking game. He's gone away and done that while retaining his points of difference."

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