George Ford left out of England side to face Scotland

Owen Farrell moves to outhalf as Eddie Jones makes five changes from last Test match

England’s George Ford (right) and Maro Itoje (centre) during an England training session at The Lensbury Hotel, Teddington. Photo: Adrian Dennis/PA Wire

England’s George Ford (right) and Maro Itoje (centre) during an England training session at The Lensbury Hotel, Teddington. Photo: Adrian Dennis/PA Wire

 

Eddie Jones has dropped George Ford for England’s Six Nations opener against Scotland on Saturday with the captain Owen Farrell switching to outhalf and Ollie Lawrence coming into midfield. Jones has made five changes to the side who clinched the Autumn Nations Cup last December with Mark Wilson also getting the nod at blindside flanker.

Ford missed the rescheduled Six Nations win over Italy in October as well as the first two Autumn Nations Cup matches with an achilles injury but returned to fitness to reclaim his place at fly-half. Jones’s decision to move him to the bench for the Calcutta Cup is therefore the first time he has been dropped since the World Cup quarter-final against Australia.

Lawrence, 21, made his debut in the autumn off the bench in Rome before starting the next two matches alongside Henry Slade with Farrell at fly-half. A hip injury then ruled him out of the subsequent two matches but Jones has reprised that midfield trio at the expense of Ford. Notably however, Slade and Lawrence switch positions with the Exeter Chief at outside-centre and the Worcester youngster occupying the No12 jersey.

Wilson is preferred at flanker to replace the injured Sam Underhill. The 31-year-old last appeared for England against Wales last March but comes in at No6 with Tom Curry moving to openside. Elsewhere, Will Stuart makes only his second start at tighthead prop with Kyle Sinckler suspended and Ellis Genge is selected at loosehead. Jonny Hill is preferred in the second row alongside Maro Itoje with the fit again Courtney Lawes among the replacements. Beno Obano is set to win his first cap having also been named on the bench.

Jamie George continues at hooker, as does Elliot Daly at fullback, in what will be their first outings since England beat France in extra time. Billy Vunipola, who has played once for Saracens since then, is again at No8 while Anthony Watson and Jonny May are on the wings. Luke Cowan-Dickie, Harry Williams, Ben Earl, Dan Robson and Max Malins are the other replacements.

“We’re really looking forward to this game and getting the Six Nations back underway,” said Jones. “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.”

England: Elliot Daly; Anthony Watson, Henry Slade, Ollie Lawrence, Jonny May; Owen Farrell (capt), Ben Youngs; Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Will Stuart; Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill; Mark Wilson, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola. Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Beno Obano, Harry Williams, Courtney Lawes, Ben Earl, Dan Robson, George Ford, Max Malins. – Guardian

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