Nathan Hughes to start at number eight for England in Calcutta Cup clash
Hughes comes into the back row in place of the injured Sam Simmonds.
Nathan Hughes will start at number eight when England’s NatWest 6 Nations title defence resumes against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.
Hughes has recovered from the knee ligament damage sustained on club duty for Wasps in December and is thrust straight into the back row in the absence of Sam Simmonds, who featured against Italy and Wales.
“Nathan Hughes has worked hard on his fitness. I’ve never seen him in better physical condition, so we are looking forward to him playing.” head coach Eddie Jones said.
Simmonds was withdrawn at half-time in the 12-6 victory over Wales and is expected to miss the remainder of the Six Nations.
Billy Vunipola, first choice in the position, is unavailable because of a broken arm but the Fijian-born Hughes offers similar ball-carrying threat compared to the lighter and more mobile Simmonds.
“Nathan has a key role in defence and in us gaining momentum in attack,” Jones said.
Jonathan Joseph has edged Ben Te’o to retain his starting place at outside centre and apart from Hughes’ return, the pack remains the same.
On the bench, Joe Marler replaces Alec Hepburn after serving a six-week ban for a dangerous clear-out and will provide cover for loosehead prop Mako Vunipola, but the replacements otherwise remain unchanged.
James Haskell, also available after completing a ban, has been unable to force his way into the 23.
The 136th Calcutta Cup clash – the game’s oldest international fixture – will register milestones for Joe Launchbury and captain Dylan Hartley.
Launchbury is to win his 50th England cap having made his debut against Fiji in 2012 while Hartley becomes the nation’s second most capped player by surpassing the 91-appearance mark set by Jonny Wilkinson.
“For any player to play 50 caps for their country is a wonderful achievement. Joe has worked really hard to improve and is such an important player for us,” Jones said.
Congratulations to Wasps' @NateWJHughes who returns to the @EnglandRugby side at No 8, while Wasps captain @joe_launch will play in his 50th game for England!— Wasps Rugby (@WaspsRugby) February 22, 2018
More at: https://t.co/2cR9PcYczW pic.twitter.com/qbsZ2l8Pr7
“We are really excited about this game and we will need to be very tough and relentless in our defence to keep the pressure on this Scottish team.
“They are renowned for their attack so we will need to put pressure on them, create opportunities through our defence for our attack, and convert those opportunities to points.
“Our preparation over the last two weeks has been important in that it has allowed us to regenerate the players, improve the fitness of some and to get a clear understanding on how we will play this weekend.”