Nathan Hughes was named at number eight on Thursday as the only change in the England starting side to face Scotland in the Six Nations on Saturday as the team look to keep up their decade-long dominance over their northern neighbours.
Hughes, recently returned from a knee injury but in prime condition according to coach Eddie Jones, takes over from Sam Simmonds who will miss England’s next two games due a shoulder injury.
“Nathan Hughes has worked hard on his fitness. I’ve never seen him in better physical condition so we are looking forward to him playing. Nathan has a key role in defence and in us gaining momentum in attack,” Jones said.
The Australian coach has otherwise kept faith with the players who edged Wales 12-6 at Twickenham a fortnight ago to maintain their 100 percent record in their defence of the Northern Hemisphere championship.
Hooker Dylan Hartley will surpass Johnny Wilkinson as the second most-capped England player of all time when he runs out for his 92nd appearance and he is closing on Jason Leonard (114 caps) at the top of the list.
Lock Joe Launchbury will make his 50th test appearance.
“They (Scotland) are renowned for their attack so we will need to put pressure on them, create opportunities through our defence for our attack, and convert those opportunities to points,” Jones said.
“Our preparation over the last two weeks has been important in that it has allowed us to regenerate the players, improve the fitness of some and to get a clear understanding on how we will play this weekend.”
Prop Joe Marler returns from a six-week suspension to take his place among the replacements ahead of Alec Hepburn.
England have not lost in their last 10 internationals against Scotland dating back to 2008 and sit level with Ireland on nine points at the top of the Six Nations standings after two matches.
15-Mike Brown, 14-Anthony Watson, 13-Jonathan Joseph, 12-Owen Farrell, 11-Jonny May, 10-George Ford, 9-Danny Care, 8-Nathan Hughes, 7-Chris Robshaw, 6-Courtney Lawes, 5-Maro Itoje, 4-Joe Launchbury, 3-Dan Cole, 2-Dylan Hartley (captain), 1-Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16-Jamie George, 17-Joe Marler, 18-Harry Williams, 19-George Kruis, 20-Sam Underhill, 21-Richard Wigglesworth, 22-Ben Te’o, 23-Jack Nowell.