England v France, Six Nations Championship, March 15
Shaw returns for England
March 11, 2009
England lock Simon Shaw, Scotland v England, Six Nations Championship, Murrayfield, Edinburgh, March 8, 2008
Simon Shaw will return for England against France © Getty Images

Simon Shaw has been recalled into the England squad as one of three changes to the side to face France at Twickenham on Sunday.

Shaw replaces London Irish lock Nick Kennedy, who is unfortunate to miss out, while Tom Croft replaces James Haskell on the blindside flank. Harlequins wing Ugo Monye replaces the injured Paul Sackey out wide.

Croft will provide an extra lineout option in the absence of Kennedy, who has been in dominant form in the tournament so far. Shaw offers extra ballast to the pack and will be looking to compete against the powerful French combination of Jerome Thion and Lionel Nallet.

Haskell's drop to the bench means no place for Gloucester's Luke Narraway in the 22, while Danny Care, vilified after his yellow card in Dublin, retains his place on the bench. Andy Goode retains his place on the bench in place of Danny Cipriani, who has again been released back to Wasps.

Johnson admitted that while Sackey has been carrying an injury, he has been dropped on form and also that Kennedy has played well and is unfortunate not o have made the cut for the starting XV.

"He [Sackey] has got an injury but we wanted to make the change," said Johnson. "We have good options there but we went with a specialist winger in Ugo. He has had injury problems but has come back and looked strong and sharp.

"I just don't think Paul has been at his best during the tournament. He has done some good work in this team for the last two years and I don't make that call lightly. It is up to him now to respond back with his club and show the hunger to get back into the side.

"Nick is a little bit unlucky. It is a balance with the players you want on the field. Simon Shaw and Nick are very different players. I said to Nick he has played well and not done anything wrong but it is about the balance. I said the same to James about Tom's inclusion. Tom gives us a lineout option and he has been playing well."

Shaw was delighted with his recall, commenting, "I thought I was fairly lucky to get in the squad in the autumn and ever since I have tried to work hard on what has got me here in the past. It seems to be happening now at Wasps. If you give up hope you stop striving to play at your best. As long as I feel I am capable I want to play for England.

"I will bring a bit of extra ball-carrying ability, it is a big pack we are playing against so a bit of extra weight in the scrum too and some extra punch in the rucks."

Shaw has been involved with the England squad since 1994, when he replaced Johnson on a summer tour to South Africa, and made his Test debut in 1996. And yet it took until an appearance off the bench against the Springboks in November for Shaw to win his 50th cap, having spent so long competing with the likes of Johnson and Danny Grewcock for a start.

"While certain coaches or management may not feel you fit into their view of how to play the game or what they want their forward pack to look like, that doesn't mean you can't try to prove a point," said Shaw. "You may change opinions or thought processes. It goes back to having that inner confidence. If you don't have that you might as well jack it all in."

Shaw's inclusion comes at the expense of Kennedy rather than captain Steve Borthwick, whose form has been widely criticised but whose place, Johnson confirmed, was never in question.

"Steve is our captain so I didn't consider that," Johnson explained. "He has done and is doing a tremendous job for us in sometimes very difficult circumstances. It was a tough call on Nick, on James and on Sacks but you have to make those calls on what you think is the best team to play.

"You know what you get with Simon. It is not who is the better player, they are different types of second rows. Simon has been around the England squad for 15 years. He is doing very, very well (to still be involved at 35)."

England: D Armitage (London Irish); U Monye (Harlequins), M Tindall (Gloucester), R Flutey (Wasps), M Cueto (Sale Sharks); T Flood (Leicester), H Ellis (Leicester); A Sheridan (Sale Sharks), L Mears (Bath), P Vickery (Wasps), S Borthwick (Saracens, capt), S Shaw (Wasps), T Croft (Leicester), J Worsley (Wasps), N Easter (Harlequins).

Replacements: D Hartley (Northampton), J White (Leicester), J Haskell (Wasps), N Kennedy (London Irish), D Care (Harlequins), A Goode (Brive), M Tait (Sale Sharks)

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