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France 16:45 Fiji

Ieuan Evans is looking forward to the match up between England's Manu Tuilagi and France's Mathieu Bastareaud

Last Updated: 22/02/13 3:31pm

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The return of Manu Tuilagi to England's midfield for their Six Nations clash with France is a massive boost for Stuart Lancaster's men, according to Sky Sports pundit Ieuan Evans.

The powerful Leicester Tigers centre has been restored to England's starting XV for Saturday's match at Twickenham, after coming off the bench in their 12-6 victory over Ireland in Dublin a week and a half ago.

Tuilagi also completed 80 minutes for Leicester at the weekend and replaces Billy Twelvetrees in the England midfield, where he will line up opposite France's very own juggernaut Mathieu Bastareaud.

"He is the one that puts the fear of God in the opposition."
Ieuan Evans

Evans, the former Wales winger, believes the 21-year-old is central to England's ambitions of steamrolling France and maintaining their bid for the Grand Slam.

And he sees the giant Bastareaud as a potential weak link in the French defence.

"Tuilagi is the fulcrum of England's attack," Evans told Sky Sports News HD. "He is the one that gets them over the gainline. He is the one that puts the fear of God in the opposition.

"He is such a physical threat and he has such a great ability to get past and through tacklers. He is easy to build a game-plan around because you then start to build phase play on the back of his ability to get you over the gainline first of all.

"And with Bastareaud there for France it is the ability to match might with might to a certain extent. I think it is also an opportunity to take on Bastareaud. I am not yet convinced he is fit enough to take on an international-level three quarter line."


Evans also pinpointed France's deficiency in footballing skills within their back three and their lack of fitness as potential areas for England to exploit against the pre-Six Nations favourites, who have lost to Italy and Wales in their opening two matches of this year's tournament.

"England bring a big lineout game where France traditionally don't have a great lineout game," Evans said. "And if you look at France's team with that back three, there is not an awful lot of kicking talent there; (Yoann) Huget, (Benjamin) Fall and Vincent Clerc.

"Whereas England have a big kicking game with the likes of (Mike) Brown, Alex Goode and also (Owen) Farrell. (Ben) Youngs has also developed his box kicking.

"I think England will play that territorial game but also they will want to keep that tempo up as well because France do blow - they are not the fittest side out there; Bastareaud is a prime example of that.

"If England do play a high-tempo game can France keep up? But France will bring a big physical game and England will have to match that."

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