London — Eddie Jones has included six uncapped players in a 36-man squad to prepare for the Six Nations championship and said on Tuesday that Owen Farrell, out for two months through injury, would captain the team.
Orlando Bailey, Alfie Barbeary, Ollie Chessum, Tommy Freeman, Ollie Hassell-Collins and Luke Northmore are the six new faces, while winger Jack Nowell also returns for the first time since 2019.
There was no recall for in-form flyhalf George Ford — Bath’s 20-year-old Bailey being preferred to back up probable first choice Marcus Smith — while injury-plagued centre Manu Tuilagi also misses out.
Farrell has not played since injuring an ankle playing for England in November, with Courtney Lawes taking over the captaincy duties.
England, who finished fifth in 2021’s Six Nations, kick off away to Scotland on February 5.
Flyhalf Dan Biggar will captain a Wales squad that includes three uncapped players and has a host of experienced names missing through injury as coach Wayne Pivac’s side look to retain the title they won in 2021.
Hooker Dewi Lake has been called up for the first time, along with back-rowers Jac Morgan and James Ratti.
“With the World Cup on the horizon next year, every match will be important for development on the road to France,” Pivac said on Tuesday.
He would no doubt much rather have what he considers a full-strength side to choose from rather than blooding younger players 18 months out from the World Cup.
Biggar will lead the team in the absence of lock Alun Wyn Jones, who misses out due to injury along with prop Elliott Dee, hooker Ken Owens, back-rowers Taulupe Faletau, Dan Lydiate, Josh Navidi and Justin Tipuric, and outside-backs George North and Leigh Halfpenny.
“With the experience missing with some players out injured, we wanted someone who had experienced the competition on a number of occasions and knows the rigours of it,” Pivac said of Biggar.
“He gives us that — he has 95 Wales caps and he’s toured with the British & Irish Lions. Dan has the respect of the other players and management so we think he’ll do a great job.”
Wales opens against Ireland in Dublin on February 5.
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