England captain Owen Farrell has suffered a serious injury while training with Saracens. His ankle injury will require surgery, and he is expected to be out for 8 to 10 weeks. This means he will miss the entire Six Nations Championship. The untimely injury leaves England without a skipper, and the choice of who will lead the team now becomes a point of discussion. The likes of Courtney Lawes and Colin Slade will no doubt be the leading candidates, but with Lawes currently recovering from a concussion, Slade looks like the frontrunner. He was England’s stand-out player in the Autumn internationals but does lack captaincy experience. The injury to Farrell has thrown England’s plans into disarray as he was due to be the experienced head guiding young England fly-half Marcus Smith.
George Ford called up as replacement
The injury of Farrell has necessitated a replacement, and Leicester fly-half George Ford has been called up. Ford has been in scintillating form this season and was considered very unlucky not to be selected in the original squad. His selection raises more questions than answers, however, as Ford cannot play at inside center and Smith will be the starting fly-half, so maybe a place on the bench is the best option for Ford.
The option for inside center is a difficult one, but Mark Atkinson could be a shrewd choice considering that Smith is used to carrying inside center at Harlequins. Atkinson is in the mold of Quin’s center Andre Esterhuizen, and Smith thrives with a center that can get his team over the advantage line. The Farrell injury could prove to be a blessing in disguise as a midfield pairing of Slade and Atkinson could be the perfect combination of power and guile.