Owen Farrell to captain England against Argentina

Owen Farrell will captain England for the first time in a year when Argentina visit Twickenham in Sunday’s autumn opener.

Farrell has completed the return to play protocols for concussion in time to form a midfield that includes fly-half Marcus Smith and outside centre Manu Tuilagi, the first time the trio have been picked together.

The Saracens playmaker has seen off Tom Curry and Ellis Genge for the leadership duties in the absence of Courtney Lawes, who is unavailable because of concussion.

Marcus Smith, left, and Owen Farrell, right, have both been selected
Marcus Smith, left, and Owen Farrell, right, have both been selected (Mike Egerton/PA)

Farrell last skippered the side against Australia in the 2021 autumn campaign only to suffer successive ankle injuries and then see Lawes preferred as captain for the July tour to Australia.

It will be the fifth time he has forged a creative axis with Smith in a backline that sees recalls for scrum-half Ben Youngs and wing Joe Cokanasiga.

Northampton’s Alex Coles will make his debut in the second row alongside Jonny Hill while Maro Itoje makes his first appearance at blindside flanker since Italy were defeated in February.

Luke Cowan-Dickie has recovered from a knee problem to take his place at hooker while another Saints lock could make his debut off the bench in David Ribbans.

“It’s been a really good week of preparation and I’ve been very pleased with the squad’s attitude,” head coach Eddie Jones said.

“They’ve shown real work ethic and a determination to improve and our leaders, Owen, Ellis and Jack have really lifted the team.

“We’re looking forward to a great game of rugby at a full Twickenham Stadium against a very good Argentina side.

“It’s been a tough time for rugby lately and we hope that these autumn games show just what a special game it is.”