Rugby Union: Rowell sends Hill into the England fray

The long shadow of domestic rugby politics hung heavily over the Five Nations' Championship once again yesterday. Rank and file supporters are beginning to suspect that it might be easier to sort out the future of Hebron than solve the tedious conflict between Twickenham and its insubordinate senior clubs.

For Richard Hill of Saracens, however, it was a red letter day all the same. The 23-year-old open-side flanker from Surrey will win his first cap for England against the Scots in the Calcutta Cup match on Saturday week. He first announced his rich potential as a pupil at Bishop Wordsworth's School in Salisbury and if his emergence puts to an end the frustrating search for a long-term successor to the great Peter Winterbottom, we can expect to see Jack Rowell, the national coach, sinking to his knees in the middle of Cathedral Close and reciting a prayer of thanksgiving.

England have been hunting high and low for a fast, muscular and physically imposing breakaway since "Winters" packed it in almost four years ago and, at 6ft 2in and very nearly 16st, Hill has the right dimensions. Whether he has the mental hardness to survive at Test level, only time will tell. At least he has the opportunity to find out. In theory, that is. Reports that the big white chiefs from Epruc, the umbrella organisation representing clubs in the top two divisions of the Courage League, were renewing their threat to withhold players from international duty in the absence of a final agreement on decision-making procedures in the new professional game removed some of the shine from Rowell's announcement of a new-look side.

However, Charles Levison, the senior Wasps committee man who has negotiated on behalf of Epruc in recent months, said yesterday that the Domesday scenario was extremely remote. "Nothing is being threatened," he insisted. "We were concerned that the documentation we received at the beginning of the month did not reflect what had been agreed between the two sides in December, but we had a constructive meeting with the Rugby Football Union last Thursday and we expect to iron everything out this week."

Rugby's version of the bush telegraph had suggested that the only way Will Carling would face the Scots would be if every other half-decent centre in the country was ordered by his club to stay at home. As usual, the reports of Carling's demise were seriously premature; for the fourth time this season, Rowell has preferred his former captain to his former protege, Jeremy Guscott - a decision that will be greeted with bemusement well beyond the narrow confines of Bath, where Guscott was canonised years ago.

Carling will play at outside centre - a position in which his suspect passing will be less exposed - with Phil de Glanville returning, as captain, alongside him. Rowell admitted that de Glanville's position had been as much under revision as everyone else's in the aftermath of last month's shambles against Argentina, but said he was reassured by reports from the Recreation Ground, where Bath put 50 points on Northampton on Sunday.

Two other Bath backs were not so fortunate; as expected, Mike Catt's inability to do the simple things anywhere near as well as he does the difficult ones means a recall for the goalkicking Paul Grayson - "Mike will develop, possibly as a centre," Rowell said - while Adedayo Adebayo, fit again after concussion, has failed to shift Tony Underwood from the left-wing berth.

Other changes see Tim Stimpson return at full-back - one of the easiest decisions confronting the selectors - and two positional switches in the back row. Lawrence Dallaglio shifts to his club position of blind-side to make room for Hill, with Tim Rodber elbowing aside Chris Sheasby at No 8.

However, perhaps the most significant selection was buried among the replacements, where Austin Healey was named as reserve scrum-half. More talkative than Clive Anderson and marginally quicker than Linford Christie, the outstanding Leicester prospect finds himself promoted above Kyran Bracken, who, in turn, had been expected to replace Andy Gomarsall in the starting line-up.

Bracken is now out in the cold - or, at least, in the chilly surroundings of the England A team, who face the Scottish second-string at Harlequins a week on Friday. It is a sure sign of changing times; Healey, still a wing a couple of seasons back, may well be in the full England side by the end of the championship.

England team

v Scotland (at Twickenham, 1 February)

T Stimpson Newcastle

J Sleightholme Bath

W Carling Harlequins

P de Glanville Bath, capt

T Underwood Newcastle

P Grayson Northampton

A Gomarsall Wasps

G Rowntree Leicester

M Regan Bristol

J Leonard Harlequins

M Johnson Leicester

S Shaw Bristol

L Dallaglio Wasps

T Rodber Northampton

R Hill Saracens

Replacements: J Guscott (Bath), M Catt (Bath), A Healey (Leicester), D Garforth (Leicester), P Greening (Gloucester), B Clarke (Richmond).

people'It can last and it's terrifying'
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Arts and Entertainment
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbridge Wells - £32,000

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbrid...

Year 3 Teacher Plymouth

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 3 Primary Teacher...

Junior Software Developer - Newcastle, Tyne & Wear - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer / J...

Systems Administrator (SharePoint) - Central London - £36,500

£35000 - £36500 per annum: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator (SharePoint) -...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering