Can France spring an upset this weekend?

Champions England are heavy favourites to win at Twickenham

BY Simon Maguire 15:52 Friday 3 February 2017, 15:52 3 Feb 2017

French coach Guy Noves. Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

France head into this Saturday's match with England at Twickenham as underdogs but the home side would be foolish to underestimate them.  

Current champions England are riding the crest of a 14 match winning streak, which included last year's 6 Nations grand slam, a series whitewash of Australia in Australia and a November series which included a first win over South Africa in a decade.

France, for their part, finished fifth in last season's 6 Nations, drew a series in Argentina and fell to narrow defeats to both Australia and New Zealand in November.

On paper it should be a canter for Eddie Jones's men but England are not at full strength as the tournament approaches.

They have lost both Vunipola brothers as well as former captain Chris Robshaw to injury. James Haskell and George Kruis are returning from injury and will barely be match fit for the start of the competition. Anthony Watson has just been ruled out for the first three matches at least and captain Dylan Hartley hasn't played competitively since his red card for a swinging arm on Sean O'Brien in the Champions Cup in December.

Moreover, French coach Guy Noves has the luxury of having his first choice players available to him for two weeks leading up to the tournament after an agreement between French clubs and the national association.

They may have lost the mercurial Wesley Fofana but their injury list is nowhere as long as England's. France might smell blood this Saturday and could well spring the surprise of the weekend.    

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