England make three changes as Billy Vunipola has to wait for return after being named among replacements

Jack Nowell, Ben Youngs and Jonathan Joseph return to the side for Saturday's Calcutta Cup clash with Scotland

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Billy Vunipola will make his return to the England side after being named among the replacements to face Scotland for Saturday’s Six Nations Calcutta Cup match against Scotland, with Eddie Jones making three changes to his starting line-up.

Jones was keen to experiment with his side in the 36-15 victory over Scotland two weeks’ ago, which led to the likes of Jonathan Joseph and Ben Youngs being left out. The pair return to the side along with Jack Nowell, but Vunipola has to make do with a place on the bench after recovering three weeks ahead of schedule from damaged knee ligaments to feature in the Six Nations, having suffered the injury during last November’s autumn international victory over Argentina.

The head coach reverts back to his strongest line-up for the visit of Scotland to Twickenham, with England looking to record a 17th consecutive victory to tie New Zealand’s international record – one that England can beat if they win their final two Six Nations matches – as well as take the next stride in their quest to claim a second consecutive Grand Slam.

Nowell comes back into the side, having come off the replacements’ bench to score two tries against Italy, and the Exeter Chiefs back replaces Jonny May. The Gloucester wing, May, misses out of the matchday squad altogether as Bath’s Anthony Watson is named on the bench, having returned from a hamstring injury for his club last weekend.

Youngs returns at scrum-half in place of Danny Care while Joseph comes back into the side to replace Ben Te’o at outside centre, with both Care and Te’o dropping to the replacements.

The team is not the same as the one that appeared on a tactics whiteboard beside England’s training pitch on Tuesday, with Nathan Jones retaining his place at No 8 after it was initially suggested that Vunipola would return to the starting line-up. Instead, the Saracens back-row joins his older brother, Mako, among the replacements, as Joe Marler continues at loosehead prop to win his 50th cap.

“Our preparation for Scotland has been very good,” said Jones. “We had two excellent training runs in Oxford last week and followed that up this week.

“We’re focused on ourselves; we want to give our fans a really good performance. We’ve worked hard in this RBS Six Nations and feel like a good performance is just around the corner.

“This is the 124th Calcutta Cup and I feel humbled and honoured to be part of such an historic rugby occasion, it’s the oldest international fixture and means a lot to both countries. We treasure the experience.

“I congratulate Joe Marler on his 50-cap milestone. I’ve coached a lot of good players and he is certainly one of the best. He is an honest and committed team man and a fine individual. To have him and Mako Vunipola available together to give us 80 minutes at loose-head is an enormous advantage.”

England squad against Scotland

15. Mike Brown (Harlequins, 58 caps)

14. Jack Nowell  (Exeter Chiefs, 21 caps)

13. Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 31 caps)

12. Owen Farrell (Saracens, 50 caps)

11. Elliot Daly (Wasps, 11 caps)   

10. George Ford (Bath Rugby, 33 caps)

9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 68 caps)

1. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 49 caps)

2. Dylan Hartley (captain, Northampton Saints, 82 caps)

3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 72 caps)

4. Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 40 caps)  

5. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 56 caps)

6. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 10 caps)

7. James Haskell (Wasps, 73 caps)  

8. Nathan Hughes (Wasps, 6 caps)


16. Jamie George (Saracens, 15 caps)

17. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 40 caps)

18. Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 6 caps)

19. Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 48 caps)

20. Billy Vunipola (Saracens 32 caps)

21. Danny Care (Harlequins, 69 caps) 

22. Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors, 6 caps) 

23. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 24 caps)