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Jones plays it safe in first England outing

Eddie Jones will take on Scotland in Edinburgh in the Six Nations in his first match in charge of England

Eddie Jones unveiled an experienced team for his first match as England coach on Thursday, keeping his uncapped trio on the bench and going with the tried and tested to face Scotland in Edinburgh in their Six Nations opener on Saturday.

The Australian said last week that the Calcutta Cup was not a time to experiment, so it comes as no surprise that flanker Jack Clifford, centre Ollie Devoto and prop Paul Hill are named among the replacements.

As expected, Jones has opted for George Ford at flyhalf, with Owen Farrell, also usually a 10, slotting in at inside centre. Danny Care is restored to first-choice scrumhalf.

Former captain Chris Robshaw switches to the blindside flank position, where he has been impressive for Harlequins this season. James Haskell is in at seven, and number eight Billy Vunipola completes a powerful back row.

George Kruis starts alongside Joe Launchbury in the second row, while Courtney Lawes, who has been battling to overcome a hamstring strain, is on the bench.

The starting XV boasts 512 caps, with Kruis and winger Jack Nowell the least experienced on 10 each.

New captain Dylan Hartley is the most seasoned, with 66 appearances, though this will be the hooker’s first match since last year’s Six Nations: he was left out of the World Cup squad by then-coach Stuart Lancaster for disciplinary reasons.

A lack of leaders in the team was highlighted by some observers as a weakness for England during the World Cup, where despite their home advantage they failed even to reach the knockout stage. Jones has acted to address that issue by appointing three vice-captains – Farrell, Vunipola and fullback Mike Brown – to support Hartley.

“We have picked a match-day squad with a blend of experience and youth,” Jones said in a statement as he seeks to extend England’s unbeaten run against the Scots to nine games.

“The boys have worked hard since coming into camp to understand how I want the team to play. We have prepared well and I am pleased with the progress the group has made in the short time we’ve had together.”

England have won the Six Nations just once since 2003, and finished second in their four seasons under Lancaster.

Scotland meanwhile have recalled flanker John Barclay for the match.

Blindside Barclay, who did not feature at last year’s World Cup and has played just two Tests since 2013, has been in good form this season for his club side Scarlets and starts in place of Blair Cowan who drops to the bench.

In the only other change to the starting side from Scotland’s last game, their agonising last-gasp World Cup quarter-final defeat by Australia in October, Matt Scott replaces the injured Peter Horne at inside centre.

Scott will line up alongside Mark Bennett who has been passed fit to play after recovering from a shoulder injury.

Uncapped prop Zander Fagerson has been named as a replacement.

Scotland, who took the wooden-spoon in last year’s championship after losing all five matches, have not beaten England since 2008.

Coach Vern Cotter said Scotland were “determined to learn from past experiences” but expected a feisty test from an England side playing their first match under new coach Eddie Jones.

“England will look to build their game from set-phase dominance, while we expect them to have developed their attacking play into the wider channels, which can create challenges as well as opportunities,” he said in a Scottish RFU statement.

“We’re expecting them to be extremely motivated and physical, and we’re looking forward to that challenge. “Continuity and accuracy will be key for us in this game.”

England: 1-Joe Marler, 2-Dylan Hartley (captain), 3-Dan Cole, 4-Joe Launchbury, 5-George Kruis, 6-Chris Robshaw, 7-James Haskell, 8-Billy Vunipola; 9-Danny Care, 10-George Ford, 11-Jack Nowell, 12-Owen Farrell, 13-Jonathan Joseph, 14-Anthony Watson, 15-Mike Brown.

Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland, Mark Bennett, Matt Scott, Tommy Seymour, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (capt); Al Dickinson, Ross Ford, WP Nel, Richie Gray, Jonny Gray, John Barclay, John Hardie, David Denton.

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