As expected, Eddie Jones has not made too many changes to his team, while France’s Jacques Brunel has brought in five new players to his starting XV. Perhaps the most notable addition is the return of Mathieu Bastareaud, who has replaced Wesley Fofana at outside centre.
The Toulon centre’s recall has creating quite a buzz on Twitter as fans are anticipating his battle with Manu Tuilagi. The England 12 has just come from another bruising encounter with Ireland’s Bundee Aki, where there were a number of shuddering confrontations, and will be in line for a similar match this Sunday.
With over 35 stone in weight between the two, their match-up looks to be the most eagerly anticipated clash this weekend. While the Frenchman is starting at outside centre, and Tuilagi is at inside centre, it seems very unlikely that that will stop them crashing into one another on a number of occasions, as Bastareaud has surely been called up to nullify the threat of Tuilagi as best he can.
After having a dismal season with Toulon so far, and being omitted from the squad to face Wales last weekend, Bastareaud may have a point to prove in London. He was superb for his country in this fixture last year, not only being a powerful threat with ball in hand, but proving to be very useful at the breakdown, as the England forwards struggled to shift his considerable frame off the ball.
Sunday offers to be a completely different encounter to last year’s match, as England look to have snapped out of the rut that they were in. This is partly down to the return of Tuilagi, who has been absent from the England team for a number of years. This is a chance for Tuilagi and Bastareaud to renew their rivalry once again and the fans cannot wait.
This is what they had to say:
Tuilagi v Bastareaud.
— Matthew Kavanagh (@mkavanagh791) February 8, 2019
Mathieu Bastareaud v Manu Tuilagi. Cannot wait! ??????? v ?? #GuinnessSixNations
— James Savundra (@JamesSavundra) February 8, 2019
So Bastareaud comes in to the French side, you assume, to handle Manu. The prospect of Tuilagi running at Ntamack probably didn’t sit well with the French coaches. Feel that if England get Slade running at Basta with some space.. could be a long day for ?? #GuinnessSixNations https://t.co/g7MfgI57Is
— Marcello Cossali-Francis (@marcello95cf) February 8, 2019
So Bastareaud is back because Ntamack against Tuilagi would have been unfair?
— Marc (@mabo3265) February 8, 2019
— Ethan Brooks (@EthanKFBrooks) February 8, 2019
When Tuilagi & Bastareaud collide ? pic.twitter.com/TiT6r3hQUo
— Tom Home (@_tomhome) February 8, 2019
France calling back Mathieu Bastareaud to face England, essentially to try and contain Manu Tuilagi.
— Ben Coles (@bencoles_) February 7, 2019
— Nick Mullins (@andNickMullins) February 8, 2019
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