Jones picks six rookies, backs Farrell

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Eddie Jones (l) has backed Owen Farrell (r) to continue as captain of England for the Six Nations.
Camera IconEddie Jones (l) has backed Owen Farrell (r) to continue as captain of England for the Six Nations. Credit: EPA

Eddie Jones has included six uncapped players, four of them aged 20 or 21, in a 36-man England squad to prepare for the Six Nations championship .

But the Australian said on Tuesday that veteran Owen Farrell, out for two months through injury, would captain the team.

Orlando Bailey (20), Alfie Barbeary (21), Ollie Chessum (21), Tommy Freeman (20), Ollie Hassell-Collins (23) and Luke Northmore (24) are the new faces, while winger Jack Nowell also returns for the first time since the 2019 World Cup.

There was no recall, though, for in-form five-eighth George Ford - Bath's Bailey being preferred to back up probable first choice Marcus Smith - while centre Manu Tuilagi also misses out after suffering a setback to his recovery from a hamstring injury.

Louis Lynagh, son of Australian legend Michael, was also omitted. The Harlequins wing was called up for the Autumn Nations Series in October.

Farrell has not played since injuring an ankle on England duty in November, with Courtney Lawes taking over the captaincy, and is expected to return to club action for Saracens this weekend.

Although his England role looks increasingly likely to be at inside centre, Jones showed faith by inking him in as his on-pitch leader.

"Owen is captain because he has the respect of the team, he's a winner and he drives the competitive spirit of the team, Jones said.

England, who finished fifth in last year's Six Nations, kick off away to Scotland on February 5, with Jones, as ever, trying to balance short-term success with building towards France 2023.

"This Six Nations is the fourth-last campaign before the World Cup in 2023, so it's an important opportunity for us to keep building the team and keep building our tactical adaption," he said.

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