The Aviva Premiership has forced many of the potential England players out with injury. Backrow, in particular, is of concern and this is an area that might be picked for Eddie Jones due to multiple injuries.
James Haskell resumed training on Monday after a reoccurrence of his toe injury. However, he has only played 60 minutes of rugby since the Australia tour, and that was against Zebre. Even if Haskell is fit for the France game, he will certainly not be match sharp.
Chris Robshaw is out for the tournament with a shoulder injury. Which is a great shame as he was playing his best rugby without the captaincy.
Jack Clifford also has an injury and is on modified training. According to Steve Borthwick, England’s forwards coach, he is progressing well. However, it is unclear whether he will be available for the France match. If he is, then he may get the opportunity to start or provide some much-needed backup on the bench.
In Eddie’s back row, we are likely to see Nathan Hughes taking over the reigns from injured Billy Vunipola. Although he had a nervous start against Fiji, he became the battering ram with an incredible sense of balance that he is at Wasps later in the game. If he can bring this to the France game it will be a huge bonus for the squad.
Tom Wood may be a starter at blindside, and inject some pace into the game. He can also play Number 8, so he will provide cover as well.
Itoje might end up also covering in the back row. This would mean Launchbury and Kruis being the most likely pair to start in second-row. Launchbury has been in fine form for his club and hopefully, this will translate to the big stage.
Anthony Watson is another recent injury, with a hamstring problem. This puts him out for 3-4 weeks, probably meaning that Jonny May and Nowell will start on the wings for the majority of the games. Elliot Daly can cover fullback, centre, and the wings, giving plenty of options for subs.
Despite all of these injuries England are really showing the strength in depth to be able to cover these positions with, most of the time, like for like players. As Courtney Lawes says a depleted England team can still draw on so many good players.