Is Owen Farrell the right man to lead England?

Is Owen Farrell the right man to lead England?

Owen Farrell will captain England against defending champions Ireland in their Six Nations opener in Dublin on February 2.

England coach Eddie Jones announced his 35-man squad on Thursday.

Hartley, who was co-captain along with Farrell during the November Tests, has failed to recover fully from a knee injury and is not included in the squad announced by Eddie Jones today.

The captaincy of Farrell without Hartley, a man who is also known for his ill-discipline, could be a weakness for the England side.

Why? Farrell has since the controversial and unpunished shoulder tackle without use of his arms on André Esterhuizen in the recent year-end tests at Twickenham, been involved in another few high tackling incidents.

In addition to Farrell’s own transgression with tackles, the side he captains in the Premiership league, Saracens, are way ahead on the number of yellow cards for the season. It stood on ten a week ago when Farrell was sent to the sin bin against Sale, and the flyhalf’s sometimes aggressive interaction with the referee also pointed to a player who seems to be above everyone’s law but his own.

But Eddie Jones has made his choice.

♦  Jamie George is the starting hooker in place of Hartley, who could come back into the reckoning later, depending on the recovery of his injured knee.

Veteran prop Dan Cole has been recalled. Also back are No 8 Billy Vunipola and lock Joe Launchbury who are both in line for a recall, as is veteran fullback Mike Brown.

Scrum-half Danny Care, 84 caps, is not in the squad of 35 as back-up to England first-choice No 9 Ben Youngs, a job that goes to Dan Robson, one of four uncapped players in the squad.

The other uncapped players are Gloucester wing Ollie Thorley, Saracens loose forward Ben Earl and Worcester hooker Jack Singleton.

 ‘We are looking forward to getting across to Portugal and having a good 10-day preparation for the Ireland game [in Dublin on 2 February].

‘The first thing when we get together as a squad is to get our cohesion back. 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.

England squad: 

Backs: Chris Ashton, Mike Brown, Joe Cokanasiga, Elliot Daly, Ollie Devoto, Owen Farrell (captain), George Ford, Jonny May, Jack Nowell, Dan Robson, Henry Slade, Ben Te’o, Ollie Thorley, Manu Tuilagi, Ben Youngs.
Forwards: Jack Clifford, Dan Cole, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Curry, Ben Earl, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Nathan Hughes, Mario Itoje, George Kruis, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Ben Moon, Brad Shields, Kyle Sinckler, Jack Singleton, Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola, Harry Williams, Mark Wilson.