Eddie Jones questions whether Scotland will handle the pressure against England

Duncan Bech, PA England Rugby Correspondent
·3-min read

Eddie Jones has warned Scotland they do not posses a “monopoly on pride” and questions whether they will collapse beneath their own expectations in Saturday’s historical Calcutta Cup clash.

England launch their Guinness Six Nations title defence with the 139th instalment of the oldest rivalry in world rugby, which also celebrates the 150th anniversary of the teams’ first meeting in Edinburgh.

With poignancy swirling around the cross-border showdown at Twickenham, Jones has issued a riposte to the misconception that national pride is only a Celtic trait.

England v Scotland graphic
(PA Graphics)

“For Scotland this is their most important game of the year, they talk about it all the time,” head coach Jones said.

“But Scotland don’t have a monopoly on pride – our players get an opportunity to play in this historic game and they are going to be ready for it.

“You listen to the Scottish and how much it means to them – it’s their biggest game of the year, their most important game, they are playing for trophies.

“That’s a huge expectation for them and maybe, with 15 minutes to go in the game, the expectation is going to get pretty heavy for them.

George Ford (left) has made way for Owen Farrell (right) at fly-half
George Ford (left) has made way for Owen Farrell (right) at fly-half (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“We know Scotland’s going to be up for it, but so will we. It should be a great occasion.”

England have signalled that a direct approach will be taken to winning the midfield battle and nullifying Racing 92 magician Finn Russell by picking Owen Farrell at fly-half inside centres Ollie Lawrence and Henry Slade.

Lawrence will provide ball carrying power in his first Six Nations start with his elevation back into the starting XV forcing George Ford to drop to the bench.

For the first time since the 2019 World Cup quarter-final victory over Australia, Ford has made way as chief conductor having missed the start of the autumn because of an Achilles injury.

“We feel this is the right balance. It’s a good combination of Owen’s tactical acumen, Henry’s running skills and left-foot kicking and Ollie’s power. We feel that’s right against Scotland,” Jones said.

“Ollie is a good young player. He’s really developing well. We blooded him well in the Autumn Nations Cup and he gets another opportunity to start on Saturday.

“He runs good lines and is a good defensive player. He’ll add a bit of punch to the backline.”

The vacancy created by Sam Underhill’s hip injury sees Tom Curry move across the back row to openside and Mark Wilson slot in at blindside flanker for his first Test appearance since March.

Wilson has beaten Ben Earl to the available flanker position and the rising Saracens star, who is on loan at Bristol, continues to supply cover.

Courtney Lawes missed the entire autumn because of an ankle injury but he must settle for a replacement role with Jonny Hill preferred as Maro Itoje’s partner in the second row.

England’s depth at prop is tested by Kyle Sinckler’s ban for swearing at a referee and the unavailability of Mako Vunipola and Joe Marler, providing starting opportunities for Ellis Genge and Will Stuart.

Beno Obano is the only uncapped player in the 23 and the Bath loosehead will make his debut if he comes on for Genge.