Eddie Jones has already secured a Six Nations title at the first time of asking, but here are six more things we would like to see on Saturday in Paris…
1.An unchanged team
There is the temptation to make a few changes given the indifferent performances of some of the regular starters, whilst those on the bench have performed well. However tempting this may be, England must resist the urge and continue to select a winning side for the final game of the Six Nations. There could be an enforced change with Joe Marler likely to be suspended, however given Mako Vunipola has had plenty of game time so far this isn’t too much of an issue.
This means England can travel to Australia this summer full of confidence and look to trial a few new combinations in a relatively settled side. The last thing they want now is to come unstuck at the final hurdle because of inexperienced combinations being selected – just look at what happened at the World Cup last year!
2.A full 80
There’s no doubting that England have, for the most part, been the best side in this year’s Six Nations, often by some margin. Unfortunately they are still yet to complete a full 80 at full pelt and have often found themselves either letting sides back into games, or having to wait until the second half before turning the style on.
Whilst they have won all of their games comfortably, it would be nice to see them go at France for the full 80 and hopefully wrack up an impressive scoreline against a poor Les Bleus side. The last thing fans will want to see is the team taking their foot off the gas in the last 20 minutes as they have done over the last two games against Ireland and then Wales.
Part of the problem England have had with not competing for the full 80 has been their ability to keep all 15 men on the pitch at the end of a game. Against Ireland both Danny Care and James Haskell were sent to the bin, whilst against Wales Dan Cole saw yellow with less than 10 minutes left, just as Wales really ramped up the pressure.
Discipline hasn’t just been an issue in defence however, as England have continually given away stupid penalties in the oppositions half, just as they are starting to build some serious pressure. If they can cut out these unnecessary mistakes and keep 15 men on the pitch for the entire game and France could find themselves on the end of a hiding.
Whilst points haven’t exactly been too much of an issue for England during this year’s Six Nations, there will still be some frustration at the team’s ability to actually score tries. Either players have failed to ground the ball clearly, or clear try scoring opportunities have been squandered through poor passing or poor decision making.
It would therefore be a huge positive to see Eddie Jones’ men show a complete ruthlessness in the French 22 this weekend and ensure they don’t leave any points out on the field. If they can combine this with their largely impressive defensive work, then they could be looking at an impressive scoreline in Paris.
5.Replacements given time
For the most part, England’s replacements have proved effective during the Six Nations so far, and have shown that they are more than up to the task, with most pushing hard for a place in the starting XV. Whilst it’s important to keep the starting XV the same, the replacements definitely deserve some more time against France, particularly if the game is going well.
Most England fans I’m sure would be interested to see what a midfield combination of Elliot Daly and Manu Tuilagi could do if given more than ten minutes together. Equally, getting Jack Clifford into the game earlier could well see him do enough to make a serious case to start the first test against Australia this summer.
6.A Grand Slam!
There is no doubting that the English arrogance is back, and it is clear that the whole squad is now solely focussed on claiming a first Grand Slam since 2003. Whilst a slam is hardly the be all and end all given expectations at the beginning of the tournament, it would no doubt be a huge confidence booster as the side prepare to take on the Wallabies later this year.