Six Nations: England pick their youngest captain since Will Carling to face Scotland

England have selected their most youthful captain since Will Carling for Saturday’s Calcutta Cup clash.

Tom Curry has been asked to fill the leadership void in the Guinness Six Nations opener against Scotland at BT Murrayfield.

Regular skipper Owen Farrell has been ruled out with an ankle injury and Courtney Lawes, the obvious choice to lead the side in Farrell’s absence, is missing because of concussion.

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Curry, 23, becomes the youngest England skipper since Carling in 1988.

Tom Curry will captain England against Scotland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Tom Curry will captain England against Scotland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Tom Curry will captain England against Scotland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

As expected, Marcus Smith has held off the challenge of George Ford at stand-off and will make his Six Nations debut.

England head coach Eddie Jones said: “Tom Curry will captain the side for this game and has the respect of the team around him, in Owen and Courtney’s absence.

“He also has the support of the vice captains and other leaders in the team such as Maro Itoje and Ben Youngs.”

Smith will marshal a new-look midfield that features Henry Slade at inside centre and Elliot Daly in the 13 jersey, the position he filled for the Lions in the first two Tests of last summer’s South Africa tour.

Joe Marchant has recovered from Covid in time to take his place on the left wing while Max Malins takes the number 14 jersey, forcing Jack Nowell to settle for a spot among the replacements.

England have been ravaged by injury and the impact is also seen in the second and back rows.

Maro Itoje is joined at lock by Nick Isiekwe, who was only called into the squad last week as cover for Lawes in the hope that the Northampton forward would pass the return to play protocols for concussion.

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A much changed back row sees Curry switched from number eight to openside, Lewis Ludlam take over at six and Sam Simmonds complete the trio.

“As the first game, this match is hugely important to both sides and we will both want to get off to a winning start,” Jones said.

“We have a good, young team but we understand the task ahead and we’ll be ready to go after it from the first kick.”

Scotland are expected to name their team at 1pm.

England team (v Scotland, Saturday, 4.45pm, BT Murrayfield)

15. Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 5 caps)

14. Max Malins (Saracens, 10 caps)

13. Elliot Daly (Saracens, 52 caps)

12. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 43 caps)

11. Joe Marchant (Harlequins, 7 caps)

10. Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 5 caps)

9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 112 caps)

1. Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 31 caps)

2. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 31 caps)

3. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 47 caps)

4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 51 caps)

5. Nick Isiekwe (Saracens, 3 caps)

6. Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 10 caps)

7. Tom Curry (c) (Sale Sharks, 36 caps)

8. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 9 caps)


16. Jamie George (Saracens, 61 caps)

17. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 74 caps)

18. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 15 caps)

19. Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 26 caps)

20. Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins, 4 caps)

21. Harry Randall (Bristol Bears, 2 caps)

22. George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 77 caps)

23. Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 34 caps)

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