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England v France - Talking points

England open their RBS 6 Nations title defence against France on Saturday.

Here Press Association looks at five talking points heading into the Twickenham showdown.

HISTORY AWAITS

For such a headline statistic, the fact England are one victory away from setting a new national record for successive Test wins has largely escaped notice. A win against France and Eddie Jones' men will eclipse the 14-match mark established by Sir Clive Woodward's World Cup winners in 2002-03. England have furiously distanced themselves from the milestone, instead focusing only on delivering against the French.

FALSE DAWN OR THE BEGINNING OF A REVIVAL?

France's sharp decline that began in the last decade has continued its downward spiral since, but there were signs against New Zealand and Australia during the autumn that a resurgence may be around the corner. Guy Noves is a respected coach who has been talked up by opposite number Eddie Jones and a clearer picture of France's progress will emerge at Twickenham.

MARO AT SIX

Chris Robshaw's Six Nations-ending shoulder surgery has robbed England of one of the bulwarks of their success under Eddie Jones. Into his shoes steps Maro Itoje, who will be making his first Red Rose appearance at blindside flanker and has only occupied the position six times for Saracens. The promising 22-year-old lacks Robshaw's relentless work rate, but produces more explosive game involvements.

MILK-GUZZLING MARLER

Joe Marler has downed almost seven gallons of milk in his bid to overcome a fractured lower leg, defying medical expectations to take his place in England's front row ahead of schedule. Now the challenge facing him is subduing France's giant 22-stone tighthead prop Uini Atonio.

DALY ON THE WING

The only surprise in England's team announcement was Elliot Daly's selection on the wing ahead of the in-form Jack Nowell, a call that Jones insisted was based upon a horses for courses approach. Daly will be making his first Test appearance since being sent off against Argentina in the autumn and is a player of rich potential, but many will be wondering why Nowell is not present.

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