Portugal Colonial - Curry to captain England in Six Nations opener against Scotland

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Curry to captain England in Six Nations opener against Scotland
Curry to captain England in Six Nations opener against Scotland

Curry to captain England in Six Nations opener against Scotland

England coach Eddie Jones compared Tom Curry with New Zealand great Richie McCaw after naming the flanker as captain for Saturday's Six Nations opener away to Scotland.

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Curry, 23, becomes England's youngest skipper since Will Carling in 1988, with first-choice captain Owen Farrell and back-up Courtney Lawes both ruled out of the Calcutta Cup clash.

England had hoped Farrell, who plays at fly-half or centre, would recover in time for the Murrayfield match but he been sidelined from the entire Six Nations with an ankle injury.

Lawes, the stand-in skipper for wins over Tonga and world champions South Africa in November, is also unavailable as the forward is still recovering from a head knock suffered while playing for club side Northampton.

"Tom Curry will captain the side for this game and has the respect of the team around him in Owen and Courtney's absence," said England coach Jones on Thursday.

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

Both Itoje and Youngs have played more Tests for England than the 36-times capped Curry but Jones told reporters: "Captaincy is not about the number of caps.

"Captaincy is about the person who can lead a group of players on the field, lead by example. And there is no better player in our squad than Tom Curry to do that."

The veteran Australian coach said Curry reminded him of McCaw, one of rugby's greatest back-row forwards.

"He (Curry) reminds me of a young Richie McCaw who was able to lead by example and as he progresses there will be other bits of pieces of his captaincy that goes with that."

In the backs, Marcus Smith will continue at fly-half after holding off the challenge of No. 10 George Ford.

- 'Red-hot favourites -

With Farrell and Manu Tuilagi both injured, Jones has opted for a midfield combination of Henry Slade and the recalled Elliot Daly, with Joe Marchant, out of Covid isolation, and Max Malins on the wings.

The versatile Daly, who can also play at full-back or on the wing, was at outside centre for the first two Tests of last year's British and Irish Lions series in South Africa.

In the pack, No. 8 Sam Simmonds makes his first start for England since 2018 in a back row also featuring Lewis Ludlam

Nick Isiekwe, only called in as cover for Lawes last week, partners Maro Itoje in the second row, with prop Ellis Genge preferred to Joe Marler.

Jones, typically, said all the pressure was on Scotland, who last year beat England behind closed doors at Twickenham for the first time in 38 years.

"It's the first time I've had the experience of going up there when Scotland have been red-hot favourites," said Jones. "They're expected to win...They are red hot favourites and they've got to cope with that."

England (15-1)

Freddie Steward; Max Malins, Elliot Daly, Henry Slade, Joe Marchant; Marcus Smith, Ben Youngs; Sam Simmonds, Tom Curry (capt), Lewis Ludlam; Nick Isiekwe, Maro Itoje; Kyle Sinckler, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge

Replacements: Jamie George, Joe Marler, Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels, Alex Dombrandt, Harry Randall, George Ford, Jack Nowell

Coach: Eddie Jones (AUS)