OWEN FARRELL will lead England into tomorrow’s clash with France after Dylan Hartley was ruled out of the Six Nations showdown in Paris by a tight calf.
Farrell, the team’s inside centre and goalkicker, starts as captain for the first time after Hartley conceded defeat in his battle with the injury sustained in training at the start of the week.
Hartley has been an ever-present under Eddie Jones, starting all but one of his 26 Tests in charge and always acting as skipper, and his absence at the Stade de France is part of the most radical team selection of the Australian’s reign.
Jamie George, the British and Irish Lions starting hooker against New Zealand last summer, is given the No 2 jersey while Mako Vunipola has been named vice-captain.
“Owen will be very proud to be captain but at the same time he’s disappointed for Dylan to miss out through injury. He knows the position of captain carries a lot of responsibility,” Jones said.
“We need to make sure we have one strong voice among the forward leaders and Mako has been doing some great work behind the scenes. He will step up and take that on officially against France.”
In total there are five changes, two of them positional, to the side defeated 25-13 by Scotland at Murrayfield on February 24.
Mike Brown has been dropped at full-back following his disappointing display in the Calcutta Cup, resulting in Anthony Watson moving from the wing and Elliot Daly being immediately reinstated after his recovery from ankle and calf injuries.
A further development of significance sees the power of Ben Te’o preferred to the quick feet of Jonathan Joseph at outside centre.
“Mike Brown has been excellent for us, but he was a little bit off against Scotland and we’ve decided to start Anthony Watson there,” Jones said.
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