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'Daring, gallus and honest, Stuart Hogg has defined a Scottish era'

Stuart Hogg retires young, but retires a giant of Scottish sport.

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Skipper Owen Farrell set to be dropped by England - report

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England boss Steve Borthwick is reportedly seriously considering starting Marcus Smith in Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations clash with France at Twickenham and benching skipper Owen Farrell. Smith was included in the reduced 27-man squad named on Tuesday evening, seeing off the challenge of Georg Ford who took his place in last week’s training squad in Brighton.


Smith instead returned to Harlequins to start in their Big Game fixture versus Exeter and having led his side to a smashing 40-5 win, Borthwick is now considering naming him as the England No10 to face the French. That would be a massive change in thinking compared to what transpired in recent weeks.

Borthwick inherited the tactic of combining Smith at No10 with Farrell at No12 from the Eddie Jones era but he binned that selection following last month’s round one home loss to Scotland. The coach instead chose Farrell as his No10 versus Italy and Wales, restricting Smith to cameos from the bench.

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Having got less than 30 seconds as a replacement against the Welsh, there was plenty of speculation last week that the decision to omit Smith from the England training squad and send him back to Harlequins would pave the way for Ford to come into the Test match day selection.

However, the indications now are that rather than being excluded for the fixture, Smith is actually being lined up to take the No10 jersey off Farrell due to how he lit up the Harlequins attack compared to his rival’s limited creativity as the starting out-half in the Test victory over the Welsh.


Farrell has also had issues with his goal-kicking, landing just two of his six efforts at the Principality compared to Smith, who was five from six off the kicking tee in his Premiership outing at Twickenham. A report in the Telegraph ahead of Thursday’s 1:30pm team naming read: “It is understood the Harlequins fly-half is primed for a return to the starting XV in place of Owen Farrell following his man-of-the-match display for his club against Exeter Chiefs last Saturday.


“While injury issues, including a fresh set-back to Courtney Lawes, who was expected to captain the side if Farrell was rotated to the bench, forced further selection debate, it is understood that the England management have been highly impressed by Smith’s impact in training since his return from his club.

“If Smith starts, Ellis Genge, one of the two vice-captains, is likely to be handed the captaincy for England’s final competitive match at Twickenham before the World Cup in France later this year. Farrell, however, would be expected to play a significant role off the bench in attempting to manage the second half if he does not start.”


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RUGBYPASS+ 'Daring, gallus and honest, Stuart Hogg has defined a Scottish era' 'Daring, gallus and honest, Stuart Hogg has defined a Scottish era'