SARACENS CENTRES Owen Farrell and Brad Barritt will make their Test debuts in England’s midfield against Scotland in the Calcutta Cup on Saturday evening.
It’s the first time England have picked an uncapped centre pairing since Ben Johnston and Geoff Appleford teamed up in 2002 against Argentina.
Farrell and Barritt will form an all-Saracens 10-12-13 combination along with Charlie Hodgson for England’s opening RBS 6 Nations fixture while Phil Dowson is the third uncapped player in the starting XV, winning his first cap at No 8 with captain Chris Robshaw at openside and Tom Croft at blindside.
Another Saracen, David Strettle, steps into Mark Cueto’s boots in the back three, which also features Ben Foden and Chris Ashton, while Mouritz Botha teams up with Tom Palmer in the second row.
There are a further five uncapped players on the bench in Wasps hooker Rob Webber, Leicester lock Geoff Parling, Scarlets No 8 Ben Morgan, Northampton scrum-half Lee Dickson and Harlequins centre Jordan Turner-Hall.
England have just 236 Test caps compared to Scotland‘s 501 for what is sure to be a feisty Calcutta Cup match at Murrayfield – but interim head coach Stuart Lancaster is in positive mood ahead of his first game in charge.
“We have been impressed with how the whole group has come together in the last ten days and we have done a lot of work on and off the field,” he said.
“Now is the time to turn all that into a performance against Scotland that we can all be proud of. It is a massive challenge – Murrayfield, the first game of the Six Nations – but one we are relishing.”
ENGLAND TEAM TO PLAY SCOTLAND AT MURRAYFIELD ON SATURDAY 4 FEBRUARY, KICK-OFF 5pm
Ben Foden; Chris Ashton, Brad Barritt, Owen Farrell, David Strettle; Charlie Hodgson, Ben Youngs; Alex Corbisiero, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole, Mouritz Botha, Tom Palmer, Tom Croft, Chris Robshaw (captain), Phil Dowson.
Replacements: Rob Webber, Matt Stevens, Geoff Parling, Ben Morgan, Lee Dickson, Jordan Turner-Hall, Mike Brown.