6N: England v Scotland: Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell team-up in midfield

No room for Manu Tuilagi in match-day squad

Scotland's Finn Russell and England's Marcus Smith will lock horns in the battle of the No 10s at Twickenham on Saturday. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Scotland's Finn Russell and England's Marcus Smith will lock horns in the battle of the No 10s at Twickenham on Saturday. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

STEVE BORTHWICK has stuck with the two playmaker option for his first game in charge of England against Scotland in Saturday’s Six Nations opener at Twickenham, with captain Owen Farrell returning from suspension at inside-centre and Marcus Smith starting at stand-off. Joe Marchant completes the midfield triumvirate at outside centre meaning that there is no room for the prodigiously gifted but out-of-sorts and often injured Manu Tuilagi.

London Irish wing Ollie Hassell-Collins will make his debut, while Max Malins will play on the other wing, with Freddie Steward retaining his place at full-back. Anthony Watson, who has not played for England for two years largely due to injury, and Ollie Lawrence are on the bench.

Jack van Poortvliet starts as scrum-half with Ben Youngs on the bench.

6N: England v Scotland: Gregor Townsend explains some of his big selection calls

6N: Scotland v England: Gregor Townsend throws some selection curve-balls

U20s 6N: Kenny Murray challenges Scots to fight for every inch against England

In the pack, Ben Curry will be awarded his first cap against major opposition following his debut in an underwhelming victory over the United States nearly two years ago, playing openside flanker in a back-row which also features Lewis Ludlam at blindside and Alex Dombrandt at No 8, with the in-form Ben Earl of Saracens on the bench.

Meanwhile, Jamie George starts at hooker after overcoming concussion sustained in Saracens’ defeat by Edinburgh a fortnight ago. Jack Walker, the Harlequins hooker, is ready for his England debut from the bench.

“I’m picking a team for this week,” said Borthwick of his midfield selection.  “And there is competition for places. There should always be good players not in the 23. That’s what we want; depth, people competing and fighting for the shirt.

“This week’s selection has been made for this week, against a specific opponent. Then next week is next week. Manu was the incredible professional that he is when I told him he wasn’t involved. I explained my selection and the reasons, we shook hands, and then he went and trained really hard. That’s a testament to his character.

“It’s the right combination for this game. Joe Marchant at 13 works really well with Marcus. You see how they connect ball in hand… those great attacking kicks that Marcus Smith has and how Marchant finds them.

“Some of England and the Lions’ best performances have taken place with Owen Farrell in the 12 shirt,” he added.

The starting XV has only 431 caps — 101 owned by the captain, Farrell. Those on the bench have 369.

Six Leicester players are in the 23, picked by their old club head coach, Borthwick, with seven from Saracens, his former club team.


England (v Scotland at Twickenham, Saturday @ 4.45pm): F Steward; M Malins, J Marchant, O Farrell (c), O Hassell-Collins; M Smith, J van Poortvliet; E Genge, J George, K Sinckler, M Itoje, O Chessum, L Ludlam, B Curry, A Dombrandt. Replacements: J Walker, M Vunipola, D Cole, N Isiekwe, B Earl, B Youngs, O Lawrence, A Watson.

6N: Scotland v England: Gregor Townsend throws some selection curve-balls

About David Barnes 3908 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Crosbie and Ritchie should be taking turns introducing themselves to Farrell early on. Need in and about him as can guarantee the frustration will get the better of him at somepoint. Weather is a high shot or missing very kickable penalties.

  2. If we can hold our own in the set piece I don’t see any reason why this England side is anything to fear.

  3. Looing forward to Tuipolotu running into Farrell. Jones will enjoy seeing him again too. Do you think we can get Ryan Wilson as job as water carrier and sledger in chief?

    • Sadly i can see it happening already, Farrell puts a high shot on Tuipolotu, causes concussion and off for rest of game, Farrell only gets a penalty. We then have the infamous Jones – Harris Centre partnership and crumple. Jones plays well in the Centre Pairing despite Harris’s struggles, yet Jones is relegated by Toony for the next 5 years with Harris starting at 13. The game is lost 55-18

      Because of the fractured centre partnership causing us to lose the game Toony takes issue with White and Horne also. Price is promoted back into the starting lineup to assert a ‘strong box-kicking game’.

      The subsequent losses and Toony mismanagement causes a fracture between Toony and Russell again, both having different ideas for how to drive the team forward. This was the final straw after the Italy loss + winning the wooden spoon and Russell leaves the Scotland team forever. Kinghorn is now the leading man at 10.

      The HC will continue to inspire after tough losses by letting us all know the team are taking a lot of ‘learnings’ from the defeats.

      • On the other hand, Farnell puts a high shot on Tuipoloto, comes off worse and Scotland cruise to a bonus point win.
        Toony keeps the same selection for the rest of the 6 nations, wins the grand slam and is given the freedom of Gala.
        And nobody can remember who Toonys predecessor was.

      • Perhaps not the most ‘glass half full sort of post’?
        Strangely it looks like bit of a role reversal, Scotland’s opportunity to win may come from the forwards if they can get on top as the England 8 look a bit mixed. But their backs look built for speed and dangerous from broken play. Perhaps our backs may be a little short of pace and will need to be careful about loose kicks and giving turnovers out wide.

      • as @Ed says………..I’ll repeat something I posted in another article. Sione running hard at Farrell, Farrell’s tackle techniqe…….can guarantee tackle school made sod all difference. Leads with shoulder, no arms and makes head contact – all makes a far better bet than forecasting who will win.
        The question will be whether a SH ref will show a red or yellow card

Comments are closed.