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Page last updated at 13:08 GMT, Wednesday, 11 March 2009

England change three for France

Venue: Twickenham Date: Sunday, 15 March Kick-off: 1500 GMT
Coverage: 1430-1700, BBC One, BBC Red Button, Radio 5 Live, BBC HD and BBC Sport website. Post-match forum 1700-1730, BBC Red Button and BBC Sport website

Simon Shaw (left), Tom Croft (centre) and Ugo Monye
Shaw, Croft and Monye make their first Six Nations starts of the campaign

England have called up lock Simon Shaw, flanker Tom Croft and wing Ugo Monye in the three changes to their side for Sunday's Six Nations match with France.

Veteran Shaw, 35, takes over from the unfortunate Nick Kennedy, while Croft replaces James Haskell at blind-side.

Kennedy and Haskell drop to the bench while Monye, who started all four autumn Tests before injury intervened, comes in for the dropped Paul Sackey.

Danny Care, sin-binned against Ireland, retains his place on the bench.

"He is an important player for us and I don't think he will do that again," said England manager Martin Johnson.

Gloucester flanker Luke Narraway, who was a replacement in Dublin, drops out of the 22 altogether.

Narraway was one of 13 players released back to their clubs on Tuesday to play in Guinness Premiership matches this weekend.


Shaw will make his first start under Johnson, having only appeared as a replacement, once, against South Africa in November, when he won his 50th cap.

The Wasps veteran will extend his international career into a 13th year, having won his first cap in 1996.

While Kennedy has impressed with his line-out athleticism in the campaign to date, Shaw will bring extra ballast to England's under-powered second row against a powerful French pack.

"Nick is a little bit unlucky," explained Johnson. "It is a balance with the players you want on the field.

It is a big disappointment, but I'm concentrating on the positives

Nick Kennedy
"Simon Shaw and Nick are very different players. Simon's a very experienced guy and a big, strong man. I said to Nick he has played well and not done anything wrong but it is about the balance."

Johnson said he did not consider dropping captain Steve Borthwick, who he praised for "doing an outstanding job in difficult circumstances."

Kennedy, for his part, admitted he was "shocked" to be dropped for the second time in his short Test career, having also been demoted after his try-scoring debut against the Pacific Islands in November.

"It was a game I was really looking forward to playing in," he told BBC Sport. "It would have been an amazing opportunity, so I was very excited about the game.

"I'm happy now I'm still involved. Hopefully I'll get a chance to come off the bench and hopefully make an impact on the game. It is a big disappointment, but I'm concentrating on the positives."

Haskell would have echoed those sentiments after losing out to 23-year-old Croft, who will win his 12th cap but start only his fifth Test.

"It's about getting the balance right in the back row," Johnson said. Tom gives us a line-out option and he has been playing well."

Monye, 25, suffered a back injury on the eve of the Six Nations but returns to win his fifth cap on Sunday. He will start on the left wing with Mark Cueto reverting to the right flank.

Sackey sustained a calf injury against Ireland but Johnson indicated the Wasps man would have been dropped on form grounds.

"He has got an injury but we wanted to make the change," said Johnson. "We feel Paul has not quite been on his game. There are times he has showed, and times he has not quite been there.

"We have good options there and Mathew Tait has been in good form but we went with a specialist winger in Ugo.

"He has had injury problems but has come back and looked strong and sharp."

England have had training sessions with top referees Wayne Barnes and Andrew Small over the past week in a bid to eradicate the penalties and yellow cards that have dogged their Six Nations campaign.

England team to face France:

Delon Armitage (London Irish), Mark Cueto (Sale), Mike Tindall (Gloucester), Riki Flutey (Wasps), Ugo Monye (Harlequins); Toby Flood (Leicester), Harry Ellis (Leicester); Andrew Sheridan (Sale), Lee Mears (Bath), Phil Vickery (Wasps), Simon Shaw (Wasps), Steve Borthwick (Saracens), Tom Croft (Leicester), Joe Worsley (Wasps), Nick Easter (Harlequins).
Replacements: Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Julian White (Leicester), Nick Kennedy (London Irish), James Haskell (Wasps), Danny Care (Harlequins), Andy Goode (Brive), Mathew Tait (Sale).

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see also
French coach makes referee plea
11 Mar 09 |  Rugby Union
Chabal to switch for England game
11 Mar 09 |  Rugby Union
Skipper Borthwick defies critics
10 Mar 09 |  English
Ireland 14-13 England
28 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
France 21-16 Wales
27 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Wales 23-15 England
14 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
England 36-11 Italy
07 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Worsley receives England call-up
30 Jan 09 |  English
Foden & Morgan get England calls
14 Jan 09 |  English
Strettle targets England comeback
11 Oct 08 |  Harlequins

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Wasps Rugby Online Shaw lines up for fight with the French - 1 hr ago
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