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Nathan Hughes returns to England starting XV for Calcutta Cup

England's Nathan Hughes
England's Nathan Hughes

Duncan Bech

Nathan Hughes will start at number eight when England's NatWest 6 Nations title defence resumes against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Hughes has recovered from the knee ligament damage sustained on club duty for Wasps in December and is thrust straight into the back row in the absence of Sam Simmonds, who featured against Italy and Wales.

"Nathan Hughes has worked hard on his fitness. I've never seen him in better physical condition, so we are looking forward to him playing," head coach Eddie Jones said.

Simmonds was withdrawn at half-time of the 12-6 victory over Wales and is expected to miss the remainder of the Six Nations.

Billy Vunipola, first choice in the position, is unavailable because of a broken arm but the Fijian-born Hughes offers similar ball-carrying threat compared to the lighter and more mobile Simmonds.

"Nathan has a key role in defence and in us gaining momentum in attack," Jones said.

Jonathan Joseph has edged Ben Te'o to retain his starting place at outside centre and, apart from Hughes' return, the pack remains the same.

On the bench, Joe Marler replaces Alec Hepburn after serving a six-week ban for a dangerous clear-out and will provide cover for loosehead prop Mako Vunipola, but the replacements otherwise remain unchanged.

James Haskell, also available after completing a ban, has been unable to force his way into the 23.

The 136th Calcutta Cup clash - the game's oldest international fixture - will register milestones for Joe Launchbury and captain Dylan Hartley.

Launchbury is to win his 50th England cap, having made his debut against Fiji in 2012, while Hartley becomes the nation's second most capped player by surpassing the 91-appearance mark set by Jonny Wilkinson.

"For any player to play 50 caps for their country is a wonderful achievement. Joe has worked really hard to improve and is such an important player for us," Jones said.

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