England head coach Eddie Jones has attempted to allay concerns that Owen Farrell could miss Saturday’s Six Nations showdown with rivals Scotland after he was forced to abandon training due to a leg injury.
Farrell, who was set to start the Calcutta Cup clash at inside centre, limped off during the session at England’s Pennyhill Park training base on Thursday. He subsequently received treatment before being withdrawn completely.
Jones refused to reveal the exact nature of Farrell’s injury and gave contradictory answers as to whether the knock would sideline the 25-year-old from the Triple Crown decider at Twickenham.
“Owen could be a doubt,” said Jones. “He’s got a bad leg, so he couldn’t finish training. He’ll be all right.
“I’m not going to tell you that [the specifics of the injury]. I’m sure you’ve got a long range camera and you can go into one of the rooms and find out.
“I think he ran into my dog. My dog was running around and he ran into it. Annie is a pretty tricky runner and sometimes she gets off the leash. Owen just ran into someone at training. It’s as simple as that. He’ll be all right, possibly.”
When it was pointed out that his answers could be construed as ambiguous, Jones added: “Yeah, but I think he’ll be all right, is that okay? We’ve got some great goal kickers. But Owen will be right, he’s in doubt but we’ll see. He should be right.
“We have plenty of back-ups. Ben Te’o can play No12, he’s an exceptional player, so there’s no risk for us.”
Farrell aside, Jones has made three changes for the tussle with Vern Cotter’s Scotland, who have not won at Twickenham for 34 years but are in contention for a first Triple Crown since 1990.
Scrum-half Ben Youngs, centre Jonathan Joseph and wing Jack Nowell have been recalled to England’s XV in place of Danny Care, Ben Te’o and Jonny May respectively.
Jones appeared primed to thrust Billy Vunipola straight into the fray after the No8 made his return to action following a three-month injury absence for Saracens on Sunday, but the 24-year-old has been named amongst the replacements. Nathan Hughes starts.
Fit-again Anthony Watson also returns to the squad, while loosehead prop Joe Marler will lead England out as he wins his 50th cap.
“I congratulate Joe,” added Jones. “I’ve coached a lot of good players and he is certainly one of the best. He is an honest and committed team man and a fine individual.”
Victory over Scotland would not only boost England’s hopes of a second successive Grand Slam, but also equal New Zealand’s record of 18 successive Test wins.