Rugby-Furbank and Lawrence back for England to face Scotland


  • Rugby
  • Thursday, 22 Feb 2024

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - England Training - Honda England Rugby Performance Centre, Bagshot, Britain - February 5, 2024 England's George Furbank during training Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs

LONDON (Reuters) -George Furbank was a surprise inclusion at fullback while Ollie Lawrence will start at inside centre for England in Saturday's Six Nations game away to Scotland after coach Steve Borthwick made five changes to his starting team on Thursday.

Freddie Steward, one of England's most consistent performers in recent years, is fit but misses out on the match 23 as Furbank, who is less assured in the air but brings more attacking verve, gets his first international action for two years.

Furbank, 27, won the last of his six caps under Eddie Jones in the 2022 Six Nations, most of them at fullback, though he did start one game as flyhalf. He has been in superb form for Premiership leaders Northampton this season, though seemed destined to remain on the outside looking in as the giant Steward gobbled up every high ball that rained down on him.

Lawrence, back from a hip injury, will add his powerful ball carrying from inside centre in place of Fraser Dingwall, who is also out of the squad.

Lawrence usually played at outside centre for Bath earlier in the season but with regular 13 Henry Slade combining a dangerous outside break, excellent kicking from hand and his role as defensive captain as England seek to bed in their blitz system of new coach Felix Jones, Slade remains a trusted cog for the coach.

With Alex Mitchell ruled out with a knee injury, Danny Care will start his first Six Nations game for six years, winning his 99th cap. Ben Spencer is on the bench and in line for his first appearance since his cameo at the end of the 2019 World Cup final.

There are also changes at prop with Ellis Genge and Dan Cole starting, while George Martin, also back from injury, is named among the replacements where he offers another powerful flanker/lock option. Fit-again centre Manu Tuilagi misses out on the squad.

"We’re pleased with the start we’ve made to our campaign but know that a difficult test awaits us in Edinburgh against an in-form Scotland team,” said Borthwick following narrow wins over Italy and Wales.

“The atmosphere is always special for any Calcutta Cup match and I’m sure this weekend’s game will be no different."

Scotland have won the teams' previous three meetings in a run of four wins and a draw from the last six that came after a 10-match spell without a victory.

They are seeking to make it four championship wins in a row against England for the first time since 1896. They did also claim four successive victories in the early 1970s but that run included a centenary international in 1971, a week after the Six Nations game.

England team to play Scotland on Saturday (16.45GMT)

15. George Furbank (Northampton Saints, 6 caps)

14. Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints, 5 caps)

13. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 59 caps)

12. Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby, 21 caps)

11. Elliot Daly (Saracens, 66 caps)

10. George Ford (Sale Sharks, 93 caps) – vice captain

9. Danny Care (Harlequins, 98 caps)

1. Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears, 59 caps) – vice captain

2. Jamie George (Saracens, 87 caps) – captain

3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 109 caps)

4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 78 caps) – vice captain

5. Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers, 20 caps)

6. Ethan Roots (Exeter Chiefs, 2 caps)

7. Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 32 caps)

8. Ben Earl (Saracens, 27 caps)

Replacements:

16. Theo Dan (Saracens, 9 caps)

17. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 90 caps)

18. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 35 caps)

19. George Martin (Leicester Tigers, 9 caps)

20. Chandler Cunningham-South (Harlequins, 2 caps)

21. Ben Spencer (Bath Rugby, 4 caps)

22. Fin Smith (Northampton Saints, 1 cap)

23. Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (Exeter Chiefs, 1 cap)

(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Toby Davis)

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