England captain among the replacements against France

Owen Farrell has been dropped by England for the first time since 2015 after Steve Borthwick picked Marcus Smith at fly-half in his side to face France.

Borthwick selected Farrell as his captain after replacing former boss Eddie Jones who was sacked by the RFU in December.

But after just three games in charge, Borthwick has made a huge selection call and already done something Jones never did by dropping a fully-fit Farrell. Ellis Genge will captain England for the first time from the start with Farrell having to make do with a place on the bench for the first time since the 2015 World Cup.

Read more: England Six Nations squad – Farrell dropped for France

Borthwick said: “The players selected to face our visitors are again a reflection of what I see to be the right balance of personnel for the challenge we face in this game.

“I go through the gameplan we wish to play, the tactics we’ll use and the strengths of the opponents. For this reason it’s the right decision to start Marcus.

“We have three world class outside half’s. Starting with Marcus is the right blend. My job is to select who will start.”

Related: Farrell kicking at 47% in the Six Nations

Farrell started at inside centre outside Smith in Borthwick’s first match against Scotland before shifting in-field to his preferred No 10 for the wins over Italy and Wales. However, the 31-year-old has not been at his best, particularly off the tee, kicking with just a 47% success rate in this championship.

Read more: Smith-Farrell conundrum

Smith was released from the England training squad in last week’s fallow week to play for Harlequins against Exeter Chiefs in Big Game 14 and the move seems to have paid dividends after he put in a Player of the Match performance which has helped earn him a recall to the starting line-up.

Farrell may have become accustomed to being an automatic starter in a white shirt over the last eight years, but he was dropped by Warren Gatland during the British and Irish Lions Tour in 2021.

Farrell was on the bench for the first two Tests against the Springboks before being replaced for the third and final encounter by Finn Russell.

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