England head coach Eddie Jones cited a need for greater pace after full-back Mike Brown was axed for his side’s crunch Six Nations showdown with France in Paris on Saturday.
Brown has been replaced in the No15 jersey by Bath flyer Anthony Watson, while Elliot Daly has been named on the wing despite not playing for 12 weeks due to injury.
The dropping of Brown comes a matter of weeks after his man of the match performance in England’s victory over Wales, following which Jones lambasted prior criticism of the Harlequins full-back.
“It’s a tough call on Browny, he’s been a really good solid player for us but we’ve decided to go for a back three with a bit more pace this week,” said Jones.
“He’s been excellent for us but he was a little off against Scotland and we’ve decided to start Anthony Watson. We want to attack a little bit more. It’s a great back three for us.”
Skipper Dylan Hartley has failed to recover from a calf injury so Owen Farrell will captain the side against Les Bleus and Jamie George comes into the side as hooker.
“Owen will be very proud to be captain but at the same time he is disappointed for Dylan to miss out through injury and he knows the position of captain carries a lot of responsibility,” added Jones.
Worcester’s Ben Te’o, meanwhile, has been preferred to Jonathan Joseph at outside centre with an eye on combatting Toulon powerhouse Mathieu Bastareaud.
England trail Grand Slam-chasing Ireland by five points in the Six Nations table and may require a bonus-point victory to deny Joe Schmidt’s side the title.