But the 22-year-old now packs down in an England side showing 12 changes from the one beaten 21-15 by France last weekend.
Scrum-half Shaun Perry and lock Simon Shaw both play in their third successive August fixture, while wing Josh Lewsey is also retained.
In contrast, full-back Mark Cueto, prop Perry Freshwater and hooker George Chuter join Rees in being handed their first starts of the pre-tournament schedule.
England head coach Brian Ashton has repeatedly said he wanted to field his strongest starting XV at Stade Velodrome, which is potentially good news for former Great Britain rugby league captain Andy Farrell.
Farrell resumes his centre partnership with Leicester's Dan Hipkiss, which made its bow during the record 62-5 romp against Wales 10 days ago.
Lawrence Dallaglio though has to be content with a place on the bench after Ashton opted for a back row of Martin Corry, Rees and Nick Easter, England's four-try star when Wales were sunk without trace.
Ashton's plans have been hit by the unavailability of Sale Sharks prop Andrew Sheridan, who is in a Bath hospital recovering from an insect bite.
Sheridan was admitted on Sunday and has received intravenous antibiotics following a bite to the lower part of his right leg. He hopes to be discharged later this week.
Flanker Lewis Moody (calf muscle) was not considered, while scrum-half Peter Richards is continuing to receive treatment for a back problem and Sale's Richard Wigglesworth has remained with the squad as cover.