Scotland will be relieved, but won’t shout about it, that England will be without major players as Eddie Jones’ squad arrive at Murrayfield to contest the Calcutta Cup.
As if losing fly half and captain, Owen Farrell wasn’t bad enough and now that top class forwards, Courtney Lawes and Jonny Hill, are out as well with injuries, England have suffered additional blows which boost Scotland’s chances.
Jones, though, is used to coping with set-backs and will respond accordingly, and will regard the absence of senior performers as a challenge to be overcome.
So Scotland should be aware that wounded tigers fight like hell, and while it can be argued that they may just be favourites, the outcome of the Calcutta Cup is open to debate
England’s responsibility is to show a marked improvement on last season when they finished fifth in the Six Nations having been beaten by Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
Will Fly Half Marcus Smith Seize the Moment and Dazzle Murrayfield?
The 22 year old Harlequins number 10, one of the most exciting talents in world rugby, is such a creative and enterprising player who thrills spectators with his skills and sets up scoring opportunities for those around him.
With Farrell out for the entire tournament, Smith has the chance to make a huge impact whether it’s as a goal kicker or as a play-maker, or both, and if England’s forwards can win sufficient ball, the Quins’ fly half can inspire attacking rugby that can blow holes in Scotland’s defence.
Smith has loads of confidence and although he’ll be playing in front of a hostile crowd at Murrayfield(capacity almost 68,000), England’s fly half will exploit the atmosphere to his benefit and that of his team-mates.
The experience Smith has gained at Harlequins by appearing in the Premiership and the Heineken Cup will be put to good use, and one feature of this international to watch out for is the battle between the two fly halves. Smith, whose dazzling repertoire is matched by Scotland’s Finn Russell who has much more experience of international rugby having been capped more than 50 times.
Spotlight Falls on England Coach
Never underestimate the competitiveness of Eddie Jones, and those putting money on Scotland to win should remember that Jones has a 78 per cent success rate as England’s coach.
This will be his 70th Test in charge, 54 have been won and those backing England have every reason to do so. Jones has won the Six Nations three times in 2016, 2017 and 2020.
Going into the Six Nations and armed with his aim of gaining revenge for losing last year to Scotland at Twickenham, Jones enjoyed success in the autumn internationals with victories against Tonga, Australia and world champions South Africa.
England’s Games at the Six Nations
- Saturday Feb 5th: v Scotland, Murrayfield
- Sunday Feb 13th: Italy, Rome
- Saturday Feb 26th: v Wales, Twickenham
- Saturday March 12th: v Ireland, Twickenham
- Saturday March 19th: v France, Paris
- Get 10/3 on England to win Six Nations