England picks 3 new faces for 6 Nations opener
Updated: February 02, 2012, 05:12
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LONDON(AP) England will give three players their debuts in Saturday's Six Nations opener against Scotland, with Owen Farrell and Brad Barritt forming an entirely new center partnership in an overhauled lineup.
Farrell and Barritt are two of four Saracens players among the backs, with David Strettle recalled to the left wing and Charlie Hodgson restored to flyhalf for his 37th appearance.
Northampton's Phil Dowson was the other new face picked by coach Stuart Lancaster on Thursday and will make his debut at No. 8, with Harlequins' Chris Robshaw leading the side in only his second appearance from openside.
The 15 starters going for England's first win at Murrayfield since 2004 have a total of just 236 caps between them, fewer than the Scottish forwards alone. The Scotland team as a whole boasts 501.
"We have been impressed with how the whole group has come together in the last 10 days and we have done a lot of work on and off the field,'' Lancaster said. "Now is the time to turn all that into a performance against Scotland that we can all be proud of.
"It is a massive challenge - Murrayfield, the first game of the Six Nations - but one we are relishing.''
There are another five uncapped players on the replacements' bench, with only eight members - Ben Foden, Chris Ashton, Ben Youngs, Tom Croft, Tom Palmer, Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley and Alex Corbisiero - of England's unsuccessful Rugby World Cup squad among the starting lineup.
England: Ben Foden, Chris Ashton, Brad Barritt, Owen Farrell, David Strettle, Charlie Hodgson, Ben Youngs, Phil Dowson, Chris Robshaw, Tom Croft, Tom Palmer, Mauritz Botha, Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley, Alex Corbisiero. Reserves: Rob Webber, Matt Stevens, Geoff Parling, Ben Morgan, Lee Dickson, Jordan Turner-Hall, Mike Brown.