Six Nations

Barritt to make England debut

2012-02-02 12:15
Brad Barritt (File)
Bagshot - Saracens centres Owen Farrell and Brad Barritt are set to make their England debuts against Scotland in the Six Nations Championship opener at Murrayfield on Saturday.

England interim coach Stuart Lancaster named three uncapped players in his starting side on Thursday, with Phil Dowson selected at No 8 in an inexperienced team as the side look to rebuild after their disappointing performance at last year's World Cup in New Zealand.

Farrell and Barritt are England's first uncapped centred pairing since 2002 and first in the Championship since 1969, when John Spencer and David Duckham played in a 19-17 defeat away to Ireland.

Recalled flyhalf Charlie Hodgson, who will be inside his Saracens team-mates, is the most experienced player in the starting side with 36 caps.

But Hodgson, back following the international retirement of England great Jonny Wilkinson and the absence through injury of Toby Flood, will be making his first Test start for four years.

Premiership champions Saracens provide four of England's backs, with David Strettle on the left wing.

Seven of England's starting XV go into the game with 10 caps or fewer, with Harlequins flanker Chris Robshaw captaining the team in only his second Test.

In all, there are eight uncapped players in the matchday 22, with Wasps hooker Rob Webber, Leicester lock Geoff Parling, Scarlets No 8 Ben Morgan, Northampton scrum-half Lee Dickson and Harlequins centre Jordan Turner-Hall all on the bench.

Scotland, who named their team earlier this week, have a huge advantage in experience over England with their starting line-up boasting 501 caps, compared to the 236 won by Lancaster's men.

"We have been impressed with how the whole group has come together in the last 10 days and we have done a lot of work on and off the field," said Lancaster, appointed on a caretaker basis for the Six Nations after former manager Martin Johnson's resignation following the World Cup.

"Now is the time to turn all that into a performance against Scotland that we can all be proud of. It is a massive challenge - Murrayfield, the first game of the Six Nations - but one we are relishing."

The England team features 10 changes from the side that beat Scotland in the World Cup in October, a defeat that ended the Scots' record of always reaching the tournament's knockout stages, and nine from the subsequent quarter-final loss to France.

World Cup winning trio Wilkinson, Steve Thompson and Lewis Moody, England's captain in New Zealand, have all retired from international rugby, while lock Courtney Lawes and centre Manu Tuilagi are injured along with Flood.

England have not won at Murrayfield for eight years, losing twice and drawing once in their last three visits to Edinburgh.




15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Brad Barritt, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Phil Dowson, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Croft, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Alex Corbisiero

Substitutes: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Matt Stevens, 18 Geoff Parling, 19 Ben Morgan, 20 Lee Dickson, 21 Jordan Turner-Hall, 22 Mike Brown


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