Six Nations

Youngs returns for Calcutta Cup clash

2017-03-09 12:44
Eddie Jones (Getty)

London - England coach Eddie Jones resisted the temptation to bring Billy Vunipola straight back into his starting XV for Saturday's Calcutta Cup clash against Scotland at Twickenham as he made three changes to his back division.

Vunipola, however, is among the replacements, with the powerhouse No 8 poised to make his first appearance of the tournament after proving his fitness following a knee ligament injury while playing 72 minutes for English and European champions Saracens last weekend.

Nathan Hughes retained the No 8 shirt in the team announced Thursday by Jones for the Triple Crown decider, with England aiming to equal world champions New Zealand's record of 18 successive Test wins by a 'tier one' or leading rugby union nation this weekend.

Jones has made three changes, all behind the scrum, to the starting XV that beat Italy 36-15 last time out.

Ben Youngs is back as first-choice scrumhalf in place of Danny Care, Jonathan Joseph starts at outside centre instead of Ben Te'o and Jack Nowell, who scored two tries against the Azzurri, comes in for right wing Jonny May.

There is not even a spot for May on the bench, with Bath flyer Anthony Watson back in the match day 23 and eyeing his first England appearance since last year's tour of Australia after suffering a broken jaw and, more recently, a hamstring strain.

Mako Vunipola, Billy's older brother, is also among the replacements after failing to oust Joe Marler from his position as starting loosehead prop.

Instead Marler is set to lead England out, rather than captain Dylan Hartley, when he wins his 50th cap in the Calcutta Cup clash on Saturday.

"I congratulate Joe Marler on his 50-cap milestone," said Jones in a Rugby Football Union statement.

"I've coached a lot of good players and he is certainly one of the best.

"He is an honest and committed team man and a fine individual. To have him and Mako Vunipola available together to give us 80 minutes at loose-head is an enormous advantage."

Tournament leaders England remain on course for back-to-back Grand Slams but they will be up against a revitalised Scotland, who've already beaten both Ireland and Wales this Six Nations.

England, while continuing to win, have yet to hit top form this Championship and Jones said: "We've worked hard in this Six Nations and feel like a good performance is just around the corner."

Saturday's match will be the latest edition of rugby union's original international fixture, with England and Scotland having first met back in 1871, and Australian coach Jones was delighted to be involved.

"I feel humbled and honoured to be part of such an historic rugby occasion," he said. "It is the oldest international fixture and means a lot to both countries we will treasure the experience."

Scotland, who haven't beaten England at Twickenham since 1983, were due to name their side later on Thursday.

Teams

England:

15 Mike Brown, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 James Haskell, 6 Maro Itoje, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Joe Marler

Substitutes: 16 Jamie George, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Tom Wood, 20 Billy Vunipola, 21 Danny Care, 22 Ben Te'o, 23 Anthony Watson

Scotland

15 Stuart Hogg; 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Tim Visser; 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price; 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 John Barclay (captain); 5 Johnny Gray, 4 Richie Gray; 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Gordon Reid

Substitutes: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Cornell du Preez, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Mark Bennett

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