Debutants deserve chance – Lancaster

Date published: January 30 2014

England head coach Stuart Lancaster has no qualms about throwing his young charges into the fire against France this weekend.

England head coach Stuart Lancaster has no qualms about throwing his young charges into the fire against France this weekend.

Uncapped pair Jack Nowell and Luther Burrell will both start at the Stade de France for the first time, with Jonny May winning only his second cap on the left wing.

Lancaster has been unafraid to throw in young players during his two years in charge and now is no exception, with the England coach admitting to being excited about the selected side.

“We're hugely excited about the game and looking forward to going to Paris this afternoon,” said Lancaster.

“Obviously you've seen the side. It's one we are very excited about. There were some really tough selection decisions heading into this game but I think consistency, form and potential have all played their part in it.

“From my point of view, I started two years ago and we had seven new caps go to Murrayfield. I've always believed that if a player's ready and deserving of an opportunity, then we'll give it to them.

“The lists goes on of players who have made their debuts. You've got to make your debut at some point. Luther Burrell is ready for the opportunity – he's done exceptionally well for his club and played in big European games.

“Jonny May has one cap and it's a big opportunity for him. You watch Jack Nowell playing against Toulon Bryan Habana and these sorts of guys and I think he's ready and that now's the time.

“There's great potential in them. You can see in the tries May has scored that he's a great broken-field runner with great pace and footwork. Nowell on the other wing is different – he breaks tackles, beats defenders and used to play full-back so is great under the high ball.

“Burrell has been around a bit longer. He's someone I've known since he was 15 and it was a great pleasure to me to tell him he was playing.”

England will travel to Paris without a specialist fly-half on the bench, with Lancaster responding that Billy Twelvetrees and Alex Goode would cover. Chris Ashton and Ben Youngs' demotion from the squad, despite possessing valuable experience, was also answered.

“We've got Billy Twelvetrees who played 10 for Gloucester not so long ago and did it well,” added Lancaster.

“We've also got Alex Goode, who Saracens have used as a 10 in the same situation. He was always a 10 throughout his development.

“I've said to Chris Ashton that I've been really pleased in the development he's made since November. Saracens have done a fantastic job in developing him and he's playing well. My message to him is to keep working on the little things all players have to work on.

“I've always played Chris on that right wing and now I want to have the opportunity to see someone else. We are 20 games out from a World Cup and I'm sure Chris will come back after Sunday, will be training well and fight for a place against Scotland.

“The same goes for Ben Youngs. Scrum-half was the most competitive position of all when you put Richard Wigglesworth in the equation. He's trained exceptionally well and played well for Saracens. In that position, we've gone for the form players.

“Danny Care suffered the disappointment of not being involved in the first game in the autumn. We gave him some areas to work on – his game management and his kicking game. He's gone away and done that while retaining his points of difference.”