England’s Jones banking on Hughes’s muscle
February 23 2018 12:21 AM
England head coach Eddie Jones (centre) during training yesterday. (Reuters)

AFP/Bagshot, United Kingdom

Eddie Jones hopes Nathan Hughes will be able to muscle his way round Murrayfield when England’s Six Nations title defence resumes against Scotland tomorrow. Hughes was the one change to the starting side announced by England coach Jones yesterday from the side that beat Wales 12-6 last time out at Twickenham — a match where fellow back-row forward Sam Simmonds went off at half-time with a shoulder injury.
Wasps No 8 Hughes has himself been out of Test action since suffering a knee injury while on club duty in December. Jones said Hughes would give England a different dynamic in the Calcutta Cup clash in Edinburgh. “Sam Simmonds has done really well for us at No 8, a good young player, but Nathan’s a deep carrier, he’s a strong defender and has a bit more muscle around the ruck, which at Murrayfield might be useful,” Jones told reporters at England’s Bagshot training base. Fiji-born Hughes, 26, has made a quicker than expected return from injury and Jones said: “It’s been a very good combined effort between Wasps and our staff. “Nathan’s desire to get back playing for England is enormous. We’re pleased to have him back on deck.”
Meanwhile experienced prop Joe Marler is back on the bench after serving a six-week ban for a dangerous clear-out. “I’ve seen a guy that wants to play for England,” said Jones of Marler. “As a boy growing up in English rugby, one of the great games you want to play in is the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield. He’s got the opportunity to do that. That’s all I see.”
In the backs, Jonathan Joseph has retained his place at outside centre despite competition from Ben Te’o.
“It’s a hard selection but one starts and one finishes,” said Jones. “I just think early on, the way Scotland have traditionally attacked under Gregor (Townsend), that JJ’s defensive skills out wide might be very useful for us.”
England, who opened with a 46-15 victory away to Italy, have two wins from two as they bid to become the first side to win three successive outright Six Nations titles. And following one of the Championship’s rest breaks, captain Dylan Hartley — set to become England’s second most-capped player when he makes his 92nd Test appearance tomorrow — said his side could not wait to take on the Scots in the latest edition of the 147-year-old fixture. “We’ve had two weeks to prepare for this game and the guys are jumping out of their skin,” said the hooker. “It’s a long time to wait.”
Scotland suffered a humiliating 34-7 loss away to Wales in their tournament opener before recovering to fight their way to a 32-26 win at home to France last time out. “Scotland struggled with the expectation in their first game against Wales,” Hartley said. “They played very well against France and there were moments against France where they looked absolutely outstanding.”

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