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The three fixable factors behind Eddie Jones' England stagnation

Eddie Jones' England weren't far away from making the grade.

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England name Six Nations team with 7 changes from Springboks win

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Eddie Jones has named an England team for this Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations opener away to Scotland that shows seven changes from the XV that started the Autumn Nations Series finale win over South Africa at Twickenham eleven weeks ago. No8 Tom Curry will take over the captaincy in the absence of Courtney Lawes who had this responsibility on November 20 versus the Springboks. 


Lawes has struggled to overcome a concussion suffered last month while on European duty for his club Northampton, while regular skipper Owen Farrell hasn’t played any rugby since the mid-series win over Australia and has since been ruled out of the entire championship following a second ankle operation.

Captain Curry is the only player from the starting back row last time out with England to be included for the trip to Edinburgh as Lewis Ludlam comes in for the unavailable Lawes and Sam Simommds replaces Sam Underhill, who has been having his own troubles with a concussion. It means Curry, the No8 versus the Boks, starts at openside. 

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Elsewhere in the pack, Nick Isiekwe takes over at second row for Jonny Hill, whose lower leg/high ankle stress fracture left him unavailable, while in the front row Ellis Genge and Luke Cowan Dickie come in for Bevan Rodd and Jamie Blamire.  

There were also always going to change behind the scrum due to injuries. Max Malins comes in for the knee-troubled Jonny May with Elliot Daly at centre for Manu Tuilagi, the powerhouse who has yet to play for his club Sale since damaging a hamstring in the act of scoring for England against the Springboks. Daly starts at No13 with Henry Slade moving into No12. Meanwhile, Marchant switches wings to No11 to accommodate Malins at No14. 


On the bench, there are recalls for Jack Nowell, who hasn’t been capped since October 2019, and George Ford, who has been out of favour since the Six Nations defeat to Ireland last March. Also included are Jamie George, Joe Marler, Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels, Alex Dombrandt and Harry Randall.


Jones said: “As the first game, this match is hugely important to both sides and we will both want to get off to a winning start. We have a good, young team but we understand the task ahead and we’ll be ready to go after it from the first kick. Tom Curry will captain the side for this game and has the respect of the team around him, in Owen and Courtney’s absence.

“He also has the support of the vice-captains and other leaders in the team such as Maro Itoje and Ben Youngs. We have prepared really well for this game.  We’ve had a number of obstacles thrown at us, but we’ve overcome them as a more together group and we’re looking forward to getting started.”

ENGLAND (vs Scotland, Saturday)
15. Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 5 caps)
14. Max Malins (Saracens, 10 caps)
13. Elliot Daly (Saracens, 52 caps)
12. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 43 caps)
11. Joe Marchant (Harlequins, 7 caps)
10. Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 5 caps)
9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 112 caps)
1. Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 31 caps)
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 31 caps)
3. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 47 caps)
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 51 caps)
5. Nick Isiekwe (Saracens, 3 caps)
6. Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 10 caps)
7. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 36 caps) (C)
8. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 9 caps)

16. Jamie George (Saracens, 61 caps)
17. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 74 caps)
18. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 15 caps)
19. Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 26 caps)
20. Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins, 4 caps)
21. Harry Randall (Bristol Bears, 2 caps)
22. George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 77 caps)
23. Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 34 caps)



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RUGBYPASS+ The three fixable factors behind Eddie Jones' England stagnation The three fixable factors behind Eddie Jones' England stagnation