Twickenham will be shaken to its foundations on Saturday when the mighty Tuilagi, recalled to the England starting team as one of three changes, meets mountainous Mathieu Bastareaud in a 36-stone demolition derby.
The shuddering midfield collisions between two of the most powerful backs in the sport will be among the eye-catching highlights of Saturday's clash between an England side seeking a third successive win to propel them towards a grand slam and a French team in disarray after losing their first two games.
Lawes and Hartley also return for the match as coach Lancaster showed he was not afraid to shake up a winning team. Despite opening the championship with impressive victories over Scotland and Ireland, he has opted to start with the three experienced men, who all came off the bench to play important roles in Dublin, when he announced his team on Thursday.
Tuilagi, who missed the Scotland game with an ankle injury, comes in at outside centre as Billy Twelvetrees drops to the bench and Brad Barritt switches back to the 12 shirt.
Lawes, who has played almost all of his international rugby in the second row, comes in at blindside flanker in place of James Haskell, while Hartley, another to have regained full fitness, has managed to displace Tom Youngs at hooker.
The experience of Hartley, who captained England in their draw against South Africa last June, and the presence of the combative Lawes make England's pack a stronger-looking unit.
"We thought long and hard about changing a winning team which did so well against Ireland," Lancaster said in a statement. "But we believe that Dylan, Courtney and Manu are ready for the opportunity and allow us to vary our play, while the bench will add impact and energy as the game unfolds in the second half."
The presence of Bastareaud, back in the France team for this Six Nations after a three-year absence, probably influenced Lancaster's decision to recall Tuilagi, despite the impressive performances of Twelvetrees, who offers more movement but less destructive power.
Francois Trinh-Duc will make his first start in eight months after France coach Philippe Saint-Andre made seven changes and one positional switch to the team who lost to Wales, urging his troops to "be French".
Fly-half Trinh-Duc, who last started in a 23-20 defeat in Argentina last June, replaces Frederic Michalak, while scrum half Morgan Parra comes in for Maxime Machenaud in the team announced by Saint-Andre.
Vincent Clerc, who missed the opening defeats to Italy and Wales through injury, is back on the wing while Wesley Fofana stays in the team but moves to centre alongside Mathieu Bastareaud.
Prop Thomas Domingo takes Yannick Forestier's place with hook Benjamin Kayser starting in place of Dimitri Szarzewski.
"We wanted to bring freshness. Let's be French: courageous, audacious, unpredictable,” Saint-Andre told a news conference.
"It's always good when we're scared. We'll have to stick together and get ready for a great fight," he explained. "When you have lost your first two games you must make changes. I did a lot of rotations but changed the players within a squad we've had for a year.
"We need to play our best game, try to be very well organised, be disciplined. It's not just by kicking and chasing that you can beat England. For French rugby, it's better to be outsiders than favourites."
Christophe Samson, who has one cap, replaces Jocelino Suta with flanker Yannick Nyanga taking the injured Fulgence Ouedraogo's spot.
France started their campaign with a 23-18 defeat by Italy in Rome before losing 16-6 at the Stade de France against defending champions Wales.
Saint-Andre's side, who want to avoid losing their first three championship matches for the first time since 1982, will start as underdogs against a team who won their opening games, 38-18 against Scotland and 12-6 in Ireland.
France's attacking line will probably be better organised as Fofana moves back to his preferred centre position and Clerc, who missed the first two matches because of a thigh injury, returns on the wing.
England team: 15-Alex Goode, 14-Chris Ashton, 13-Manu Tuilagi, 12-Brad Barritt, 11-Mike Brown, 10-Owen Farrell, 9-Ben Youngs; 8-Tom Wood, 7-Chris Robshaw (captain), 6-Courtney Lawes, 5-Geoff Parling, 4-Joe Launchbury, 3-Dan Cole, 2-Dylan Hartley, 1-Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16-Tom Youngs, 17-Dave Wilson, 18-Mako Vunipola, 19-James Haskell, 20-Thomas Waldron, 21-Danny Care, 22-Toby Flood, 23-Billy Twelvetreees.
France team: 15-Yoann Huget, 14-Vincent Clerc, 13-Mathieu Bastareaud, 12-Wesley Fofana, 11-Benjamin Fall, 10-Francois Trinh-Duc, 9-Morgan Parra, 8-Louis Picamoles, 7-Thierry Dusautoir, 6-Yannick Nyanga, 5-Yoann Maestri, 4-Christophe Samson, 3-Nicolas Mas, 2-Benjamin Kayser, 1-Thomas Domingo
Replacements: 16-Dimitri Szarzewki, 17-Vincent Debaty, 18-Luc Ducalcon, 19-Jocelino Suta, 20-Antonie Claassen, 21-Maxime Machenaud, 22-Frederic Michalak, 23-Florian Fritz
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- Mathieu Bastareaud