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Farrell on the attack against South Africa.
Farrell on the attack against South Africa.
Image: Inpho/Billy Stickland

Hartley injured, Farrell captains England squad for 'brutal' Six Nations opener against Ireland

Eddie Jones says Ireland are the best team in the world as he aims to take a first win over Joe Schmidt since 2016.
Jan 17th 2019, 10:08 AM 22,671 50

DYLAN HARTLEY’S KNEE injury has kept him out of Eddie Jones’ 35-man squad for the Six Nations, leaving out-half Owen Farrell to captain England against Ireland on 2 February.

The Northampton hooker has been struggling with his knee issue for the majority of the past month and so Jamie George looks set to take up the number 2 shirt.

Farrell was previously co-captain of England and regularly finished out Tests as captain after Hartley was replaced. Now he is set to lead England opposite his father Andy, who is Ireland’s defence coach and future head coach.

Jones has included four uncapped players in the group, including Worcester hooker Jack Singleton, Saracens back row Ben Earl, Glouceser wing Ollie Thorley and Wasps scrum-half Dan Robson.

Along with Hartley, Jones will miss Chris Robshaw, Sam Underhill, Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson through injury. However, the pack will be bolstered by Ellis Genge, Joe Launchbury and, Vunipola brothers, Mako and Billy after all four missed out on the November Test schedule.

Billy Vunipola Billy Vunipola has endured a torrid run of injury luck in recent seasons. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“The first thing when we get together as a squad is to get our cohesion back,” said Jones as he prepares to bring his side to Portugal for a 10-day training camp before flying to Dublin.

The players have been playing for their clubs with different styles and different playing philosophies, so it’s about getting them thinking about playing the England way.

“The second thing is to get our togetherness stronger to work as hard as we can to make sure we are well connected on and off the field so Portugal is an important camp for us.”

Having lost his last two meetings with Ireland – both games with a Grand Slam on the line – Jones says he is preparing England for a ‘brutal’ contest at the Aviva Stadium.

“Ireland is the best side in the world. They are a very well coached and drilled side and have particular things they do well in the game. To beat Ireland, we need to compete brutally in all the contest areas of the game.”

England squad for Ireland Test


Jack Clifford (Harlequins), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), Tom Curry (Sale Sharks), Ben Earl (Saracens) *, Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers), Jamie George (Saracens), Nathan Hughes (Wasps), Maro Itoje (Saracens), George Kruis (Saracens), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs), Brad Shields (Wasps), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Jack Singleton (Worcester Warriors) *, Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs), Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons)


Chris Ashton (Sale Sharks), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Ollie Devoto (Exeter Chiefs), Owen Farrell (Saracens) captain, George Ford (Leicester Tigers), Jonny May (Leicester Tigers), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Dan Robson (Wasps) *, Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors), Ollie Thorley (Gloucester Rugby) *, Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

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