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Scotland v England: Ben Youngs dropped for Six Nations match


Ben Youngs

Youngs was England’s first-choice scrum-half on their run to last year’s Rugby World Cup final

Scrum-half Ben Youngs is among the senior players left out as England make five changes to their starting XV to face Scotland.

Willi Heinz replaces Youngs at nine, with flanker Lewis Ludlam in for Courtney Lawes in the wake of defeat by France on the opening weekend.

Prop Mako Vunipola and lock George Kruis return, with Jonathan Joseph replacing injured centre Manu Tuilagi.

Saracens’ Ben Earl is set for a debut as one of six forwards on the bench.

Bath hooker Tom Dunn could also win his first cap as he joins Lawes and Joe Launchbury, who has recovered from a knee injury, among the replacements.

Dunn was recalled to the squad when Luke Cowan-Dickie left the team’s training camp on Thursday morning after his wife went into labour.

Joe Marler, who started the defeat by France, is left out of the matchday squad entirely with Ellis Genge as loose-head back-up and Will Stuart covering the other side of the scrum.

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England team to face Scotland

Furbank; May, Joseph, Farrell, Daly; Ford, Heinz; M Vunipola, George, Sinckler, Kruis, Itoje, Ludlam, Underhill, Curry

Replacements: Dunn, Genge, Stuart, Launchbury, Lawes, Earl, Youngs, Devoto

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“Preparation this week has been great. We have sought to address the issues from the France game and have had a really good and sharp preparation for Scotland,” said head coach Eddie Jones.

“Scotland are a dangerous side. They like to play with a lot of width and with a lot of flow and tempo in their game. We want to make sure we dominate the gain line.

“Their win record against England at Murrayfield is substantially higher than their overall record against us, so we have to recognise they are a dangerous beast and we have to be at our best to beat them.”

England have won on just three of their last seven trips to Murrayfield, losing 25-13 on their most recent visit in 2018.

Historically, they have won just 42% of away matches against Scotland in a rivalry that stretches back to 1871. By contrast England have won 67% of their home matches against their neighbours.

Come in number nine?

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New Zealand-born Heinz made his Test debut at 32, having arrived at Gloucester from Super Rugby side Crusaders in 2015

Youngs, 30, is the most experienced player in England’s Six Nations squad with 96 caps to his name, but was out-shone by opposite number Antoine Dupont in Paris.

Gloucester’s Heinz, 33, will be making only his fourth start for England. Head coach Jones opted to take just those two scrum-halves to the Rugby World Cup last year, overlooking the likes of Saracens duo Ben Spencer and Richard Wigglesworth or Harlequins’ Danny Care as cover.

Northampton’s Alex Mitchell, 22, was included in his latest wider squad as an apprentice, however, after making his way back from a knee injury.

The conditions on Saturday are set to favour an attritional, rather than ambitious, gameplan, with Storm Ciara forecast to bring winds of more than 40mph to the Scottish capital.