Danny Till has two selections for France v England on Sunday.
France to flourish early
This game is definitely the clash of the weekend, the young, talented French side facing an England team desperate to erase the memories of that crushing World Cup final loss.
England are deserving favourites and come in with a wealth of experience – but facing France in Paris is no walk in the park however inexperienced the home side are.
In the last five Six Nations clashes in Paris, the home side have won three and lost two – interestingly both the losses came following World Cups (2012 and 2016).
The market that interests me is France to be leading at half time. Les Bleus have been leading going into the break of their last five matches in Paris against South Africa, Fiji, Argentina, Wales and Scotland.
The second half of all but two of these games has seen a classic French implosion, with the collapse against Wales in round one of the 2019 Six Nations still very fresh in the memory.
And while I expect this side to be mentally stronger under the new coaching regime, I don’t want to take the risk of a second half meltdown.
England may just take a bit of time to find their feet, with some new combinations (the back row in particular) and a fast French start wouldn’t surprise me at all. So at 6/4 France to win the first half would be my first bet.
Cowan-Dickie to continue fine strike rate
Hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie was one of the unsung stars of England’s World Cup campaign and arguably would have started this game had he not had to leave the camp earlier in the week.
The Exeter star scored the final try in each of England’s group games in Japan, and also notched the last try in the warm-up fixture with Ireland – his record now stands at five tries in 21 appearances.
His fine form has continued with the Chiefs where he has crossed twice in four games. Given how affective Cowan-Dickie is late on games from driving mauls he is definitely worth chancing, even more so when he is a best price of 25/1 to score the last try of the game.