Monday, 23 October, 2017

England's Owen Farrell doubtful for Scotland clash with knee injury

Hamish Watson will start at Twickenham on Saturday Hamish Watson will start at Twickenham on Saturday
Tracy Craig | 10 March, 2017, 00:50

He remains with the squad but if he is unable to complete a planned kicking session at Twickenham today, England could be forced into a late change against Scotland.

In a press conference best described as prickly a few hours later at England's Pennyhill Park base, Jones admitted that Farrell was a concern going into England's fourth match of the championship, although he would not reveal the exact area where he was injured.

When it was pointed out that his answers could be construed as ambiguous, Jones added: "Yeah, but I think he'll be all right, is that okay?"

"Owen Farrell ran into someone at training".

"We have plenty of back-ups". Owen will be alright.

This blunt party line was faithfully backed up his captain, Dylan Hartley, who veered in the direction of hyperbole only once when he suggested: "This week has been all about sharpening the axe for Scotland".

"They have a bench that is coming on and finishing games off in the last 10 minutes".

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"I asked if he was OK and he said yes". Hooker Jamie George is also on the bench, while Owen Farrell starts at centre and EPCR European Player of the Year for 2016, Maro Itoje, continues at blindside flanker.

The final change sees Jack Nowell getting the start he deserves on the wing.

"I've coached a lot of good players and he is certainly one of the best". Anthony Watson, also back from injury, is on the bench, leaving no place for Jonny May.

The Scots were not slow to criticise England for their dim response to Italy's ruck-removal tactics in their last game but Jones has steadfastly refused to join in.

The England coach aimed a sly dig at Italy's tactics while suggesting that he thought Romain Poite had not understood the laws of the game correctly, rather than his players. If that was a specific reference to England's cutting edge in the first halves of their recent matches, few would disagree there remains scope for improvement. I treasure the experience.

Defending champions England top the Six Nations standings after three victories and another on Saturday would take their winning run to 18 matches, level with New Zealand's tier one world record.

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