Six Nations 2013: Tuilagi, Lawes and Hartley back for England
SIX NATIONS: ENGLAND v FRANCE
- Saturday, 23 February
- 17:00 GMT
- Watch live on BBC One, BBC One HD, Red Button and online; listen to BBC 5 live & online; live text commentary on BBC Sport website; watch again on BBC iPlayer; highlights on BBC Two & BBC HD on Sunday 2315.
England have brought back Manu Tuilagi, Courtney Lawes and Dylan Hartley for Saturday's crunch Six Nations clash with France at Twickenham.
Tuilagi comes into the centres in place of Billy Twelvetrees, who drops to the bench, with Brad Barritt reverting to the inside centre berth.
Lawes replaces James Haskell, who has had flu, at blind-side flanker and Hartley ousts Tom Youngs at hooker.
Haskell and Youngs will both be on the bench for the Championship leaders.
Lawes, frequently used as a second row, will be making both his first start in the Six Nations and his first Test start in the number six shirt.
His last Test start was against Scotland in the 2011 World Cup and his recall comes following a series of injuries.
Unbeaten England go into the game on the back of a gritty win in Dublin a fortnight ago and coach Stuart Lancaster admitted: "We thought long and hard about changing a winning team which did so well against Ireland.
"But we believe that Dylan, Courtney and Manu are ready for the opportunity and allow us to vary our play, while the bench will add impact and energy as the game unfolds in the second half.
"The players are really looking forward to getting back to Twickenham; the atmosphere in the stadium is fantastic and hopefully the crowd can get behind us in what is sure to be a great challenge against a motivated and physical French team."
France are currently bottom of the table after two defeats in two games - their worst start to a Championship for 31 years - while England opened their account with a big win against Scotland before edging past Ireland in driving rain.
The visitors have dropped seven players after the defeat by Wales last time out, with Wesley Fofana returning to the midfield as part of a powerful centre combination with Mathieu Bastareaud.
The Toulon centre lines up opposite the equally powerful Tuilagi, who returns to the England midfield after making his comeback from an ankle injury off the bench in the win over Ireland.
With both men weighing in the vicinity of 18 stone, it promises to be a heavyweight clash in London.
"Irrespective of who France had picked in the centres, we would have picked this combination," Lancaster told BBC Radio 5 live.
"We are not picking retrospectively or reactively against the France team.
"We believe, in the first half, the set piece will be important, as will the gain line battle. Manu certainly helps us in that gain line battle.
"The changes made up front will hopefully help us in the set-piece.
"As the game goes on, with Billy Twelvetrees to come off the bench, his passing game should provide more variety for us as we enter the last 20 minutes."
Northampton's Lawes, who has played blind-side flanker for the Premiership club, admitted he is relishing a physical battle against the French.
"It's my trademark," he told 5 live. "I love that physicality element to rugby. It's one of the only sports you can do that thing.
"That's where my edge is and that's where I see myself improving as a player. I need to keep it up."
Replacement Lawes, who was knocked out and forced off after a try-saving tackle on Rob Kearney against Ireland, added: "It's important for me to keep a lid on things.
"I could get too caught up in it all, get over-emotional about being back in the starting team.
"But you have to think clearly about the job you need to do, where you need to be and making the right decisions."
England: 15. Alex Goode (Saracens, 8 caps); 14. Chris Ashton (Saracens, 31 caps), 13. Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 18 caps), 12. Brad Barritt (Saracens, 13 caps), 11. Mike Brown (Harlequins, 13 caps); 10. Owen Farrell (Saracens, 14 caps), 9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 30 caps); 1. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 7 caps), 2. Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 44 caps), 3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 37 caps), 4. Joe Launchbury (London Wasps, 6 caps), 5. Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers, 14 caps), 6. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 17 caps), 7. Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, capt, 14 caps), 8. Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 15 caps).
Replacements: 16. Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 6 caps), 17. David Wilson (Bath Rugby, 24 caps), 18. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 6 caps), 19. James Haskell (London Wasps, 47 caps), 20. Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers, 5 caps), 21. Danny Care (Harlequins, 38 caps), 22. Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers, 54 caps), 23. Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester, 2 caps).