Farrell 'very unhappy' to lose England captaincy to Lawes, says Jones

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Owen Farrell is "very unhappy" to have been replaced as England captain by Courtney Lawes for Saturday's series opener against Australia, head coach Eddie Jones confirmed.

Lawes stepped into the role late last year and, like Tom Curry, went on to captain England during the Six Nations, with Farrell absent due to ankle problems.

Farrell is back in the fold after making a full recovery from those injuries, but it would seem any preconceptions about walking straight back into the captaincy role were misplaced.

The armband has been with Farrell since 2018, meaning Saturday's match will be his first for England without being captain since the 2018 Six Nations.

But given the injury troubles he has had, Jones wants Farrell to focus on his form without the distraction of the key leadership role.

When asked about Farrell's reaction to his decision, Jones said: "Very unhappy.

"Owen is a bloke who expresses his feelings clearly and he wants to be captain. When I told him he wasn't going to be captain, he wasn't very happy. But that's okay.

"Owen's had a fair while out of the team and at this stage we feel it's the best thing for the team and for Owen, because he's a very important player for us.

"He has played 94 Tests for England and he has won every trophy in the world, apart from the World Cup. He's a pretty fair player and he's a very important player for us.

"We want Owen to be at his best and he's been out of the side for a while, so it's an opportunity for him to play three Tests back-to-back and produce his best."

Elsewhere in the team, Danny Care will make his first Test appearance in almost four years, while Henry Arundell, Jack van Poortvliet and Guy Porter are among the replacements and hoping to make their first appearances.

Billy Vunipola is back for his first England outing since the 2021 Six Nations, though Jonny May is absent after testing positive for coronavirus last week.

In total, there will be six changes to England's last Test, a Six Nations loss to France just over three months ago, and Jones is confident his chosen XV has what it takes to challenge the Wallabies.

"We have had very strong preparation for this game," he added.

"We did some good recovery work in Fremantle and quality training in Perth. The squad has come together well since we met up last week.

"Picking the 23 out of this group of 36 was difficult. We feel we have a well-balanced team, which is ready for this improving Australia team. We'll take it to them from the start."

England team: Freddie Steward, Jack Nowell, Joe Marchant, Owen Farrell, Joe Cokanasiga, Marcus Smith, Danny Care; Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Will Stuart, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Mako Vunipola, Joe Heyes, Ollie Chessum, Lewis Ludlam, Jack van Poortlviet, Guy Porter, Henry Arundell.

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