STUART Lancaster has backed his new generation of wing wonders to run riot in tomorrow’s Six Nations opener.
England will unleash turbo-charged duo Jonny May and Jack Nowell as they kick-off their Championship campaign against France.
Gloucester’s May has been in red-hot form this season but has just one-cap to his name, while Exeter Chiefs’ Nowell makes his debut in the Parisian cauldron.
But Lancaster insists the inexperience pair are ready for the challenge and has rewarded May for his European heroics.
The Swindon-born star has been a rare spark in the Cherry and Whites’ stuttering season and further proclaimed his international potential with a breathtaking try against Perpignan earlier this month.
Lancaster said: “There’s great potential in them. You can see from the tries Jonny May scores, that he’s a great broken field runner with exceptional pace and foot-work, while Jack is a slightly different player , who breaks tackles and beats defenders.
“It’s been a long progression for Jonny. He came to South Africa two years ago and he impressed there in the mid-week game.
“Then we took him to Argentina last summer and he was disappointed not to be selected but after Christian Wade was called up to the Lions just four hours before the game, Jonny came in and played exceptionally well in difficult circumstances.
“Beyond that his form for Gloucester has been good. He’s been a consistent performer in their team and has created something out of nothing on countless occasions over the last two or three years.
“More recently the Perpignan and Munster matches were big European games and he stood up.”
In all Lancaster has made four changes to the side that finished the autumn against New Zealand, with Luther Burrell making his debut alongside Gloucester’s Billy Twelvetrees in a new look midfield, while Danny Care makes his first start since last year’s clash with Italy.
The inclusions of May, Nowell and Burrell was undoubtedly made with one eye on next year’s World Cup and it is a brave decision with a trip to face Les Bleus first up.
Lancaster could easily have stayed with the tried and tested, with the likes of Chris Ashton and Brad Barritt but he insists the old adage ‘if you’re good enough, you’re old enough, rings true.
He added: ““I’ve been really pleased with the development Chris has made in his game. My message to him is keep doing what he’s doing and work on the little things.
“But I feel now is the opportunity to have a look at somebody else. Consistency, form and potential have all played their part in the selection process.
“You have to make your debut at some point. Jonny May has one cap but it’s still a big opportunity for him and Jack Nowell is ready and now’s the time. Luther’s playing exceptionally well for his club and has been in Premiership finals and big European game.
“Two years ago we gave seven new caps going to Murrayfield, I’ve always believed if a player is ready and they deserve an opportunity we will give it to them.
“There’s no warm-up games in international rugby so if you’re going to give someone a chance there’s no easy game. France will be a tough start but we’re confident in the players we’ve picked.”