Six Nations: England trio to make Test debuts against Scotland

Six Nations: Scotland v England

  • Venue: Murrayfield
  • Date: Saturday, 4 February
  • Kick-off: 1700 GMT

Coverage: Live on BBC TV, HD, Red Button, BBC Radio 5 live and online

Number eight Phil Dowson is one of three uncapped players in England's starting XV to face Scotland in their Six Nations opener on Saturday.

Centres Brad Barritt and Owen Farrell make their debuts, while Saracens team-mate Charlie Hodgson plays at fly-half in place of the injured Toby Flood.

Lock Mouritz Botha, another Saracen, wins his second cap in interim coach Stuart Lancaster's first line-up.

Only six players remain from the World Cup quarter-final defeat by France.

"Phil just has that match experience at club level which we think will transfer to the international arena," said Lancaster of 30-year-old debutant Dowson, who was captain of England's second-string Saxons side during Lancaster's time in charge.

Lancaster encourages expansive England

"He is hugely experienced as a leader. He is a very good footballer, he has played lots of big games and he is desperate to play for England.

"That is a big thing for me. He deserves his opportunity."

Saracens have five players in the side, with David Strettle making his first start since the 37-20 defeat by New Zealand in June 2008.

Lancaster insists his back division will have a different style to that used by the Premiership champions.

He added: "Charlie is one of the form fly-halves in the Premiership and it has been like a new lease of life for him playing with some younger players and taking the lead, which is exactly what you want from a fly-half.

Analysis by former England scrum-half Matt Dawson

"I think Charlie Hodgson is one of the best fly-halves that England have had, but his weakness is defence and that is considerable. England will have to protect him. He's used to playing behind a bullying forward pack at Saracens who keep him on the front foot and pinging the ball about. Whether it will be like that at Murrayfield I don't know."

"Owen has done extremely well. His temperament and core skills have been very impressive and Brad Barritt at 13 will give us the balance we are looking for in our centre partnership.

"They are used to playing together, but we will use them slightly differently to how Saracens do.

"We have our own personal philosophy and it is not mirrored on anyone else."

Farrell has been listed at inside centre and Barritt at outside centre, the opposite way they line up for Saracens.

Northampton winger Chris Ashton, who has agreed to join Saracens from the start of next season, retains his place on the wing alongside Ben Foden at full-back.

Scarlets' Ben Morgan is one of five uncapped players named as replacements along with Wasps' Rob Webber, Leicester second row Geoff Parling, Northampton scrum-half Lee Dickson and Harlequins centre Jordan Turner-Hall. Chris Robshaw, who has a solitary cap to his name, will captain the side.

Former skipper Lewis Moody, along with fellow World Cup winners Jonny Wilkinson and Steve Thompson, retired from international rugby in the wake of England's disappointing World Cup campaign in New Zealand late last year.

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This is the least experienced England side I can remember and in many ways the least intimidating

Former Scotland international Andy Nicol

Second row Courtney Lawes is absent with a knee injury, while centre Manu Tuilagi is sidelined by a hamstring problem.

Their absence leaves Lancaster's team, which has collectively won 236 international caps, short of on experience compared to a Scotland side that has 501.

"Maybe that naivety is a good thing," added Lancaster. "Stepping out at Murrayfield will be the acid test. We can talk and talk, but until we go out there, that is when we will find out."

England side to face Scotland

Ben Foden; Chris Ashton; Brad Barritt, Owen Farrell, David Strettle; Charlie Hodgson; Ben Youngs; Alex Corbisiero, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole; Mouritz Botha, Tom Palmer; Tom Croft, Chris Robshaw (captain), Phil Dowson.

Replacements: Rob Webber, Matt Stevens, Geoff Parling, Ben Morgan, Lee Dickson, Jordan Turner-Hall, Mike Brown.