Exiled flanker Steffon Armitage has criticised the decision of England head coach Eddie Jones to omit uncapped duo Maro Itoje and Elliot Daly from his maiden matchday squad to face Scotland on Saturday.
Saracens lock Itoje and Wasps centre Daly will head to Edinburgh as travelling reserves for England’s Six Nations opener and first competitive clash since their World Cup humbling in the autumn.
Armitage, who is not considered for England selection due to playing his club rugby for Toulon in France, believes Jones has missed a prime opportunity to blood emerging talent.
“I’ll back England but I’m disappointed not to see a few faces in the team for the first game,” said Armitage. “Not to see them in the group, I don’t know what kind of message it’s sending.
“You have to put these players in when it’s their time and I feel with Itoje that he’s got there. He’s doing it week in, week out for Saracens.
“Sometimes it’s best to throw them into the deep end because otherwise when are you going to do it? This is the perfect time to do it.”
New Zealand-born wing Sean Maitland, meanwhile, insists Scotland must learn from past failures and not get distracted by the fervour of the occasion when they face old foes England at Murrayfield.
“Maybe in the past the emotion has probably been too much,” said Glasgow back Maitland.
“We haven’t just focused on our skill-set and how we wanted to play, and had a chip on our shoulder.
“We’re not worrying about results and what happened in the past. We are just working on how we are going to beat England.”