England opt for Farrell over Ford at fly-half against Scotland

·2-min read
Return to No 10 - England captain Owen Farrell

England captain Owen Farrell will start at fly-half when the reigning champions begin their Six Nations title defence against Scotland after coach Eddie Jones named a physically powerful midfield for Saturday's Calcutta Cup clash at Twickenham.

For the first time since England's 2019 World Cup quarter-final win over Australia, George Ford has been dropped to the bench, with the more imposing trio of Farrell, Ollie Lawrence and Henry Slade comprising England's midfield.

Although Ford missed the start of England's autumn campaign with an Achilles injury, he was at fly-half for the wins over Wales and France.

Lawrence will be winning his fourth cap but making his first Six Nations start after showing signs of his ability to make charging runs during the Autumn Nations Cup.

Aside from the change at fly-half and inside centre, Jones has retained the same back division that saw England edge out France in sudden death extra time of the Nations Cup final at Twickenham two months ago.

In the pack, there are starts for returning flanker Mark Wilson and lock Jonny Hill.

Bath prop Beno Obano could make his debut off the bench, while experienced forward Courtney Lawes has also been named as a replacement after returning from injury.

With Kyle Sinckler suspended, Will Stuart will make his first Six Nations start at tighthead prop.

Sinckler is one of five leading forwards missing from the England squad.

Back-row Sam Underhill, lock Joe Launchbury and prop Mako Vunipola are all injured, while prop Joe Marler has withdrawn for personal reasons.

"It was difficult to pick the 23 players," said Jones in a Rugby Football Union statement issued Thursday.

"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."

England (15-1)

Elliot Daly; Anthony Watson, Henry Slade, Ollie Lawrence, Jonny May; Owen Farrell (capt), Ben Youngs; Billy Vunipola, Tom Curry, Mark Wilson; Jonny Hill, Maro Itoje; Will Stuart, Jamie George, Ellis Genge

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Beno Obano, Harry Williams, Courtney Lawes, Ben Earl, Dan Robson, George Ford, Max Malins

Coach: Eddie Jones (AUS)