France v England
Paris holds no fear for England's young guns
January 31, 2014
England's fresh-faced debutants Jack Nowell and Luther Burrell © Getty Images
Stuart Lancaster has backed Jack Nowell and the rest of England's young guns to shine in the Paris furnace come Saturday.
Lancaster named an inexperienced backline for Saturday's Six Nations opener against France with debuts handed to Nowell and Luther Burrell. Alongside the duo in the backline, Jonny May starts, who has just one cap, while Billy Twelvetrees is still finding his feet at Test level.
For Nowell, he has just 16 Aviva Premiership starts to his name but Lancaster has full faith in the youngster's ability. And England's willingness to give youth its head was evident at a cinema local to the squad's Surrey training base 12 hours before the team was announced.
Arriving to watch The Wolf of Wall Street with Tom Johnson and Henry Thomas, 20-year-old Nowell's lack of ID meant he was turned away.
"I was really excited to go. Tom and Henry two got their tickets and I paid for mine last, but the woman said 'sorry, I need to see your ID'," Nowell said. "I checked to see the film was an 18 and not a 15 just in case! I didn't have any ID on me so I had to go back to the hotel to get some.
"We had to watch the showing an hour later... with my passport in my back pocket!"
Lancaster highlights the dwindling number of games - 20 - left until the 2015 World Cup to explain his willingness to pick Nowell, Burrell and May against the favourites. It is a risky approach to what is possibly the toughest fixture in the Six Nations, but Lancaster reckons inexperience also has its benefits.
"The upside is that they have no fear. There is no fear factor that sometimes can build during players' careers in international rugby," he said. "Ultimately I've gone with my gut instinct which was probably formulated after watching training on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday last week.
"I had a bit of time to think about it over the weekend. Form, potential and consistency of performance in the Premiership and Europe have been factors.
"Leading up to our camp there was a lot of analysis that we did on the games, both objective analysis and in terms of stats. And there's the subjective feel you have from what you've seen in the games.
"There's the opinions of the directors of rugby whose counsel I trust. And then you come into camp and you get a feel for whether a player is ready. My instincts after the three days told me that Jack, Luther and Jonny were ready."
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