Thursday 23 November 2017

Jones opts for Ford-Farrell combo

George Ford (Getty Images)
George Ford (Getty Images)

Dylan Hartley leads a starting XV containing 512 caps - but no debutants - in England's side to face Scotland tomorrow.

Eddie Jones' solution to England's perennial midfield conundrum is to field George Ford at fly-half and Owen Farrell at inside-centre in their second start together.

Chris Robshaw is moved across the back-row to blindside flanker, with James Haskell at No 7.

Scotland have recalled flanker John Barclay, who has played just two Tests since 2013. In the only other change to the starting side from the agonising last-gasp World Cup quarter-final defeat by Australia, Matt Scott replaces the injured Peter Horne at inside-centre.

France's Sevens sensation Virimi Vakatawa, who has not played 15-a-side rugby for almost three years, will make his Test debut against Italy in Paris tomorrow.

The Fiji-born wing is one of four debutants in Guy Noves' first selection, alongside centre Jonathan Danty, scrum-half Sebastien Bezy and lock Paul Jedrasiak.

"He has shown great qualities in Sevens rugby," said Noves. "I don't see any problem with taking him."

Italy field four debutants: front-row duo Andrea Lovotti and Ornel Gega, full-back David Odiete and wing Mattia Bellini.

England (v Scotland)- M Brown ; A Watson, J Joseph, O Farrell, J Nowell ; G Ford, D Care ; J Marler, D Hartley (capt), D Cole, J Launchbury, G Kruis, C Robshaw, J Haskell, B Vunipola. Reps: J George, M Vunipola, P Hill, C Lawes, J Clifford, B Youngs, A Goode, O Devoto .

Scotland - S Hogg ; S Maitland, M Bennett, M Scott, T Seymour ; F Russell, G Laidlaw (capt); A Dickinson, R Ford, WP Nel, R Gray, J Gray, J Barclay, J Hardie, D Denton. Reps: S McInally, G Reid, Z Fagerson, T Swinson, B Cowan, S Hidalgo-Clyne, D Weir, D Taylor .

France (v Italy) -M Medard ; H Bonneval, G Fickou, J Danty, V Vakatawa; J Plisson, S Bezy ; E Ben Arous, G Guirado (capt), R Slimani, P Jedrasiak, Y Maestri, W Lauret, D Chouly, L Picamoles. Reps: C Chat, U Atonio, J Poirot, A Flanquart, Y Camara, M Machenaud, J Doussain, M Mermoz.

ITALY - D Odiete, L Sarto, M Campagnaro, G Garcia, M Bellini, C Canna, E Gori, A Lovotti, O Gega, L Cittadini, G Fabio Biagi, M Fuser, F Minto, A Zanni, S Parisse. Reps: D Giazzon, M Zanusso, M Castrogiovanni, V Bernabo, A Van Schalkwyk, G Palazzani, K Haimona, L McLean.

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