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Matt Dawson questions Steve Borthwick’s selection of Owen Farrell as captain

Owen Farrell

Matt Dawson has questioned Steve Borthwick’s selection of Owen Farrell as captain as it makes the Saracens man harder to drop.

England suffered a third successive defeat to Scotland on the opening day of the Six Nations to get Borthwick’s reign as head coach off to a disappointing start.

Farrell started at inside centre while Marcus Smith was at out-half, the same combination Eddie Jones favoured at the end of his time in charge, although the duo again failed to lead England to victory.

Writing in his column for the BBC, Matt Dawson argued that Borthwick has limited his options by virtually guaranteeing that Farrell will start by making him captain.

Matt Dawson on Owen Farrell.

“The problem is, with Farrell as captain, if Borthwick experiments in that area and drops his skipper as a result – that is going to be massive news,” Dawson wrote.

“I do not think people would have questioned it if he had not made Farrell captain in the first place and that is an unnecessary pressure Borthwick has put on himself.

“I understand that Farrell brings a huge amount to the team. I am just not sure we should be asking him to play at 12 when he has been playing better at 10 for his club Saracens.”

The 10-12 combination is key.

England have preferred a dual playmaker system for a long time now, originally with George Ford and Farrell and later Smith, and when it works it produces scintillating attacking rugby.

Rush defences do make it very difficult for a play maker at outside 12 however, and while Farrell certainly isn’t small for an out-half he doesn’t have the size to be a crash ball option at inside centre.

Jones and now Borthwick have shown faith in Smith to develop into a world class number 10, although Farrell is still a quality operator who could easily slot back in at out-half if needed.

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