England plan to feed off Murrayfield hostility in Scotland clash, says Sam Simmonds

The Calcutta Cup has provided lean pickings in recent times, with Eddie Jones’ men managing a solitary victory from the last four instalments.

Sam Simmonds insists England are ready for Scotland (Steve Haag/PA)
Sam Simmonds insists England are ready for Scotland (Steve Haag/PA)

Sam Simmonds insists England will feed off the hostility at Murrayfield when they launch their Guinness Six Nations against Scotland on Saturday.

The Calcutta Cup has provided lean pickings in recent times, with Eddie Jones’ men managing a solitary victory from the last four instalments of international rugby’s longest running rivalry.

England arrive into Edinburgh as narrow favourites despite missing five Lions and fielding a team containing only 462 caps – 112 of them supplied by Ben Youngs – in what is the least experienced Six Nations starting XV of the Jones era.

Ranged against them is a settled Scotland side that is confident of building on last year’s evidence of revival, while the swirling winds and heavy rain are expected to play into the hands of home kickers Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg.

The stage is set for an upset, but Simmonds insists England are ready to turn the tide in the fixture.

“I’ve not played at Murrayfield before but we’ve got plenty of boys in the squad who have,” the Exeter number eight said.

“We’ve talked about the hostile environment and how we can use that and come together as a 15 and a 23, plus the boys who aren’t playing.

“We’ve talked about results in the past and maybe we haven’t played to our full potential. This week we’ve trained well – mentally and physically – and we’re in a very good place.

“What matters ultimately is the team performance. We have come up here to win. We want to get our Six Nations off to a good start and to win up here at Murrayfield would be the perfect start.”

Simmonds will perform the role of propelling England onto the front foot, with his explosive carrying the reason for his recall to the side.

It has been four years since he won the last of his seven caps as he fell out of favour under Jones until his destructive running for Exeter resulted in a call-up to last summer’s Lions tour of South Africa where he made an additional Test appearance.

A loyal bandwagon of support followed the 27-year-old throughout the double-winning season of 2019–20 and although Jones appeared disinterested, Simmonds refused to give up.

“No, I never doubted myself. I had a long injury spell which kept me out from the end of 2018 and I pretty much missed the whole season in 2019,” Simmonds said.

“For me, my mindset was just about getting back to playing rugby, back to doing what I loved and putting a string of games together.

“Then in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons I started playing well. You know when you are playing well and you know when people are talking about you.

“At the time, it was not like the other back rows in the England squad were playing badly. I always say that just because I was playing well does not mean there’s a spot for me when there are players like Tom Curry, Sam Underhill and Billy Vunipola.

“It was just about keep plugging away, keep improving on the things that Eddie and the other coaches want me to improve.

“I always knew that my time would come again. It was just a matter of when.”

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