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England make four changes to face Scotland in Six Nations opener

By Liam Heagney

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Eddie Jones has made four changes to his England team that will play Scotland on Saturday in the Guinness Six Nations following their last outing, the Autumn Nations Cup final win over France in December. Three of the changes come in the pack, but the sole switch in the backline will be a major talking point.


Owen Farrell, who will captain the England team throughout the championship, is at fly-half, a decision that means George Ford, who started against the French, has dropped to the bench. Farrell’s switch to the No10 shirt from inside centre has allowed Jones to include the fit-again Ollie Lawrence at No12 in a midfield partnership with Henry Slade.

The rest of the backline is along familiar lines. Elliot Daly is at full-back, Anthony Watson is at right wing and Jonny May on the left, while the team’s most experienced player Ben Youngs is set to make his 105th cap at scrum-half.

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Eddie Jones’ England squad at training ahead of their Six Nations opener

In the pack, Will Stuart starts at tighthead for the suspended Kyle Sinckler, Jonny Hill comes in at lock for the injured Joe Launchbury while Mark Wilson is accommodated at blindside for injured openside San Underhill. Tom Curry has switched to Underhill’s No7 role.

Ellis Genge will play at loosehead, Jamie George at hooker, Maro Itoje in the second row while the final place on the England team is taken by Billy Vunipola at No8. Beno Obano, meanwhile, could make his Test debut after being named as a finisher and there is a return from injury for Courtney Lawes. Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ben Earl, Ford, Max Malins, Dan Robson and Harry Williams are also named on the bench.

Jones said: “We’re really looking forward to this game and getting the Guinness Six Nations back underway.  It’s even more special to be taking part in a 150th-anniversary game, it will be a good occasion. It was difficult to pick the 23 players.  We’ve had a really good week of training, it’s been very competitive. But I’ve gone with what I feel is the strongest 23 for this week. The Six Nations is a short tournament, it’s a real sprint so we’ll need to be on the front foot straight away.  We know Scotland will be raring to go – but so will we.”


The game marks the 150-year anniversary of the fixture after the first-ever international rugby Test match was played between the two nations at Raeburn Place in Edinburgh in 1871.

ENGLAND (vs Scotland, Saturday)
15. Elliot Daly (Saracens, 47 caps)
14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 46 caps)
13. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 34 caps)
12. Ollie Lawrence (Worcester Warriors, 3 caps)
11. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 61 caps)
10. Owen Farrell (C) (Saracens, 88 caps)
9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 104 caps)
1. Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 23 caps)
2. Jamie George (Saracens, 54 caps)
3. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 8 caps)
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 43 caps)
5. Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, 4 caps)
6. Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons, 19 caps)
7. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 28 caps)
8. Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 56 caps)

16. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 26 caps)
17. Beno Obano (Bath Rugby, uncapped)
18. Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs, 18 caps)
19. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 85 caps)
20. Ben Earl (Bristol Bears, 8 caps)
21. Dan Robson (Wasps, 7 caps)
22. George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 72 caps)
23. Max Malins (Bristol Bears, 3 caps)


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England make four changes to face Scotland in Six Nations opener