England coach Eddie Jones is not new to playing mind games and he is known for stirring the pot when it comes to his interviews. Jones declared that the Scotland team were ‘red-hot favourites’ to emerge triumphant in the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield this weekend but Scotland coach, Townsend, however, has firmly dismissed these claims.
Scotland came out on top last year at Twickenham in the showdown between the two nations which was the first time on English soil since 1983. The task for England is no doubt an uphill battle with England having seven players with 10 caps or less in their starting XV, but they are hoping that the young squad can spoil the party in Scotland.
Tom Curry, 23, will lead out his side becoming the youngest England captain since Will Carling in 1988. At only 23, Jones will be hoping that his new captain can cause an unwelcome upset at Murrayfield. Curry takes on the captaincy as Owen Farrell is out with injury and Forward Courtney Lawes, who was expected to fill in the captaincy, was also ruled out of their Six Nations opener.
Jones’ team selection includes Ellis Genge in the front row, Elliot Daly at the centre and Joe Marchant out on the wing. Nick Isiekwe is gaining his second start for his country in the second row alongside the experienced Maro Itoje. The England coach is making some bold choices which he hopes will prove beneficial for his teams and the travelling fans.
Scotland have Jonny Gray making his welcome return to the team for first time since March of last year. The Exeter Chiefs’ player is joined in the field with Grant Gilchrist in the second row who will be one appearance away from reaching 50 caps after the clash on Saturday.
England are trying to regain the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield which if done would be the first time in 38 years. With a woeful performance in last year’s Six Nations, the English fans will be expecting a better-placed finish after only two wins last year. England will hope they can continue the good form showed in the Autumn where they beat South Africa and Australia.
It is set to be a thriller on Saturday and with 67,000 fans in the stadium it will certainly be a fortress for Scotland which may give the Scots the edge over a young England side. With the home advantage being so significant it is a great opportunity for Scotland to have both their fixtures against England and France being played at Murrayfield this year.
So, will this be Scotland’s year to finally win the Six Nations? A win against England in what is set to be tough conditions will do the world of confidence for the Scots.
England: Freddie Steward, Max Malins, Elliot Daly, Henry Slade, Joe Marchant, Marcus Smith, Ben Youngs, Ellis Genge, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Nick Isiekwe, Lewis Ludlam, Tom Curry (C), Sam Simmonds.
Replacements: Jamie George, Joe Marler, Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels, Alex Dombrandt, Harry Randall, George Ford, Jack Nowell.
Scotland: Stuart Hogg (C), Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Duhan van der Merwe, Finn Russell, Ali Price, Rory Sutherland, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Jonny Gray, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: Stuart McInally, Pierre Schoeman, WP Nel, Sam Skinner, Magnus Bradbury, Ben White, Blair Kinghorn, Sione Tuipulotu.