Eddie Jones insists George Furbank has the necessary composure to make his England debut in the hostile environment of the Stade de France on Sunday.
In a selection that appears to signal the end of Elliot Daly's 18-month spell at full-back, Furbank has been given the number 15 jersey on the strength of his exhilarating form for Northampton.
"George is just a good rugby player. He reads the game well, he's decisive, has good core skills, runs good lines. He's a very impressive young fella," Jones said.
"He's been very confident from what I've seen of him. He handles the pressure of games and handles the pressure of training.
"Nothing seems to faze him too much so he'll just get on with it, I believe."
Furbank has propelled himself into the Test team after catching Jones' eye on Northampton duty and during his week at England's pre-Six Nations camp in Portugal.
Owen Farrell has been testing him in training in the Algarve and has been impressed by his response.
"George is very calm, which is a big strength, especially at full-back," the England captain and fly-half said.
"We trained against each other quite a lot over the course of this camp and any time anyone has seemed to put him under pressure, he's been at his calmest. It gives off a brilliant feeling."
Daly was exposed during last autumn's World Cup final defeat by South Africa and had Watson not succumbed to the injury with which he entered camp, he might have been dislodged at full-back by his rival from Bath rather than Furbank.
Mako Vunipola is missing from the matchday 23 completely and Jones insists the Lions prop is being rested with the round two trip to Edinburgh six days later the target for his return.
Vunipola missed training on Wednesday with an eye injury but Jones insisted that was not the reason for his absence from the Paris opener.
Joe Marler deputises at loosehead prop as one of three changes in personnel to the side toppled 32-12 by the Springboks in Yokohama.
Charlie Ewels comes into the second row to partner Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes moves to blindside flanker, with Tom Curry replacing broken-arm victim Billy Vunipola at number eight.
Bath prop Will Stuart is set to be the second uncapped player to make his debut at the Stade de France after being picked on the bench.
"The team has gelled together really well with a nice blend of youth and experience, the two young guys coming in who have earned their spurs in the first camp," Jones said.
"We're excited. It's a good team playing in front of 80,000 at the Stade de France against a young French side."