Nick Bishop’s recent article provided insightful analysis about the “Australian way” of multi-phase attack. The challenges that Dave Rennie’s team faced in the recent…
England rugby captain Owen Farrell is a doubt for the start of the Six Nations after his club Saracens revealed that he faces up to three months out because of ankle surgery.
The Saracens playmaker hobbled off late in the game after kicking 17 points in last Saturday’s rout of Australia, with the injury keeping him out of the climax to the autumn series against South Africa.
Farrell has been given a timeline of between ten to 12 weeks for his recovery, meaning he could miss the Six Nations opener against Scotland on February 5 and possibly the Round 2 trip to Rome eight days later, due to a lack of match fitness.
It continues an unfortunate campaign for the 30-year-old after he was forced to self-isolate for the autumn opener against Tonga only for his COVID-19 sample to belatedly be confirmed as a false positive.
In his absence, Courtney Lawes led England against the Islanders and he will also be at the helm for the Springboks’ visit to Twickenham on Saturday.
Marcus Smith is currently seen as first-choice flyhalf and should Farrell’s recovery be delayed, Eddie Jones could recall the out-of-favour George Ford as cover.
The outlook on Jamie George’s knee damage is less severe with the Saracens hooker expected to be out for eight to ten weeks, potentially making him available for the Murrayfield showdown.
George fought his way back into England’s squad after initially being left out by Jones and impressed against Tonga and Australia until injury struck.
Rookie Jamie Blamire will win his fifth cap on Saturday to plug the gap, but Luke Cowan-Dickie is due to return from an ankle issue next month and will be favourite to fill the number two jersey against Scotland.
Bevan Rodd, who had an impressive debut last week, again props with Kyle Sinckler.
Uncapped hooker Nic Dolly is on the bench, alongside prop Joe Marler, who will rejoin the squad later on Thursday after COVID isolation.
England coach Eddie Jones also delivered one of his trademark pre-match trumpet calls, promising that his side would be up for the forwards’ battle.
“They (South Africa) said after the World Cup final, where they beat us fair and square, that they knew how to play us, they knew where our weaknesses were and they were implying that our forward pack was weak,” said the Australian.
“Our forward pack’s not weak – and we’ll have an opportunity on Saturday to show that.
“We’re looking forward to taking them on in that physicality and we’re also looking forward to try to expose the weaknesses in their game that they do have.”