Hartley ruled out for England against France

Updated / Thursday, 8 Mar 2018 09:39

Dylan Hartley is out with a calf problem

Dylan Hartley has been ruled out of England's NatWest 6 Nations match against France with a tight calf.

Owen Farrell will captain the team in Hartley's absence in Paris on Saturday afternoon.

Hartley sustained the injury in training at the start of the week and has been forced to concede defeat in his race to be fit.

Farrell starts as England skipper for the first time. Mako Vunipola has been named vice-captain with Jamie George taking over at hooker.

Hartley has been ever-present under head coach Eddie Jones, starting all but one of his 26 Tests in charge and always acting as skipper.

"Owen will be very proud to be captain but at the same time he's disappointed for Dylan to miss out through injury. He knows the position of captain carries a lot of responsibility," Jones said.

"We need to make sure we have one strong voice among the forward leaders and Mako has been doing some great work behind the scenes. He will step up and take that on officially against France." 

In the most radical team selection of the Jones era, Mike Brown has been dropped at full-back in favour of Anthony Watson, who shifts across from the wing to create a vacancy that is filled by Elliot Daly.

The power of Ben Te'o is preferred at outside centre, resulting in Jonathan Joseph dropping to a much-changed bench.

Kyle Sinckler is back as tighthead prop cover - Harry Williams has been struggling with a neck problem - and is joined among the replacements by James Haskell and Sam Simmonds. 

England (v France): Anthony Watson, Jonny May, Ben Te'o, Owen Farrel, Elliot Daly, George Ford, Danny Care, Nathan Hughes, Chris Robshaw, Courtney Lawes, Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury, Dan Cole, Jamie George, Mako Vunipola.

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler, James Haskell,  Sam Simmonds, Richard Wigglesworth, Jonathan Joseph, Mike Brown