Courtney Lawes was set to deputise as captain for Owen Farrell, who will miss the entire Championship because of ankle surgery; Eddie Jones’ side open their campaign away to Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday
Last Updated: 01/02/22 8:34pm
Courtney Lawes and Jonny Hill have been ruled out of England’s Six Nations opener against Scotland on Saturday through injury.
England’s troubled build-up had eased slightly after Joe Marler was cleared to rejoin the squad following a period of self-isolation, while forwards coach Matt Proudfoot had initially suggested Lawes and Hill could be involved despite injuries.
Flanker Lawes sustained concussion playing for Northampton against Ulster on January 16, while Hill has a foot injury.
The pair will both remain with the England squad despite missing the match.
Losing Lawes is a bitter blow for England as the Northampton flanker was set to deputise as captain for Owen Farrell, who will miss the entire Championship because of ankle surgery.
Until he was concussed – his last match was for Saints against Ulster on January 16 – the 32-year-old had produced the best rugby of his career over the previous six months.
Marler, who has 74 caps for England, tested positive for Covid-19 a week ago but he has now left self-isolation in a boost for Eddie Jones’ inexperienced squad – with almost half of the 37-man training squad having never appeared in Six Nations.
England 2022 Six Nations fixtures
|Saturday, February 5||Scotland (A)||4.45pm|
|Sunday, February 13||Italy (A)||3pm|
|Saturday, February 26||Wales (H)||4.45pm|
|Saturday, March 12||Ireland (H)||4.45pm|
|Saturday, March 19||France (A)||8pm|
Head coach Jones names his team for the clash on Thursday morning.
Proudfoot had insisted no risks will be taken with Lawes’ return and that he is confident that among vice-captains Tom Curry, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Ellis Genge an alternative skipper can be found.
“With concussion it’s very important that you follow that process. If we have one per cent of doubt then Courtney won’t play,” Proudfoot said.
“He’s raring to go and has been progressing nicely through what’s he’s been asked to do and through what the doctor has structured him for. He’s right on top of it so let’s see how he goes. It’s only Tuesday and there are still a couple of days to go.
Proudfoot added: “Eddie’s got a good leadership team in place. Tom [Curry] leads by example and with the intensity he trains at.
“Each one of the young guys who support Courtney have their own speciality in how they’re leading and I must say the intensity in training was really spot on today.”
After returning to the squad, Marler came through Tuesday’s critical training session well. Centre Joe Marchant is still quarantining due to coronavirus.
“Joe will be okay for Saturday,” Proudfoot said. “He trained flat out today. I had a scrummaging session with Joe and he’s looking good.”
Following England’s opener against Scotland, they will travel to face Italy at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday, February 13.