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‘We’re not underestimating France’

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Sam Underhill runs with the ball against France
England lost to France in Paris at the start of the 2020 Six Nations
Date: Sunday, 6 December Kick-off: 14:00 GMT Venue: Twickenham
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Sounds, the BBC Sport app and website with live text commentary

England head coach Eddie Jones says his side will not underestimate the inexperienced French team they face in Sunday’s Autumn Nations Cup final.

Jones’ team boasts 813 caps to France’s 68 with around 25 key French players unavailable for selection because of an agreement with the country’s league.

“The French have got a history of doing well when they’ve got a young side,” Jones told BBC Sport.

“We have made sure our preparation is absolutely first-class.”

He added: “We’re not underestimating this team at all.”

England’s last defeat was against a full-strength France side at the beginning of the 2020 Six Nations, a competition Jones’ side went on to win.

France coached Fabien Galthie has been forced into fielding an unfamiliar team this time around because of an agreement with the Top14 that means players could only play three games in the autumn window.

Jones has made just one change to the starting XV that beat Wales last weekend.

Wing Anthony Watson replaces the injured Jonathan Joseph, while backs Max Malins and Joe Marchant return to the bench.

But Jones said if anyone could cause an upset at Twickenham it was France, referencing their shock victory against the All Blacks on the 2009 tour of New Zealand.

It was Les Bleus’ first win in New Zealand since 1994, albeit against an injury-hit All Blacks side, and the England coach said his analysts had been “flat-out” to avoid a similar result on Sunday.

“We’re busily trying to check the history of the individual players and we’ll be well-prepared for Sunday,” he added.

Sunday’s match will take place in front of 2,000 fans at Twickenham, England having played their first three Autumn Nations Cup games in empty stadiums.

“It is exciting for society that we’re getting back to something that is a bit more like we would like life to be,” Jones said.

“To have 2000 fans in, the players will appreciate it. They will hear the noise and some of their families will be there so it brings it a bit more back to normal.”

Line-ups

England: Daly; Watson, Slade, Farrell (capt), May; Ford, Youngs; M Vunipola, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Launchbury, Curry, Underhill, B Vunipola.

Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Genge, Stuart, Hill, Earl, Robson, Malins, Marchant.

France: Dulin; Raka, Moefana, Danty, Villiere; Jalibert, Couilloud; Kolingar, Bourgarit, Aldegheri, Geraci, Pesenti, Woki, Jelonch, Tofofua.

Replacements: Mauvaka, Neti, Atonio, Ducat, Macalou, Bezy, Carbonel, Barassi.

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