Daily Mirror

D’OH CALCUTTA

Curry on standby to take over skipper role for Scots clash as boss Jones sees Lawes lose fitness battle

- BY ADAM HATHAWAY

COURTNEY LAWES is out of the Calcutta Cup clash with Scotland on Saturday – with Tom Curry in pole position to become England’s latest skipper.

The Northampto­n forward has not recovered from a bang playing against Ulster on January 16.

Lock Jonny Hill is also sidelined after failing to recover from his foot injury, with Charlie Ewels and Nick Isiekwe in the running to partner Maro Itoje in the engine room.

A day of medical smoke and mirrors started with England saying Lawes, one of the heartbeats of the side, would be given every chance to prove his fitness.

Then last night it was revealed Lawes had not gone through his return-to-play protocols sufficient­ly well to face the Scots in the Six Nations opener.

Eddie Jones will name his team tomorrow – and he’ll be casting around for a new captain after Lawes stepped in superbly for Owen Farrell, who is out injured for the whole tournament, in the autumn internatio­nals.

Curry is favourite but other candidates include hookers Luke Cowan-Dickie and Jamie George, who are both vying to start.

Lawes will remain with the squad but must remain a doubt for the second round game against Italy.

The England squad shorn of Farrell, and now Lawes, looks short of hard-nosed players ready for the cauldron of Murrayfiel­d.

Despite the chaotic build-up, England forwards’ coach Matt Proudfoot insists they have still got enough big personalit­ies to get them through the opener.

He said: “Eddie’s got a good leadership team in place. Tom leads by example and with the intensity he trains at.

“Each player has his own role to play. It’s not a case of just one guy in the job. If one guy has to step in, then they are comfortabl­e doing that.

Cowan-Dickie has never played in a Calcutta Cup match despite winning 31 England caps.

Players like Freddie Steward, Marcus Smith and the other Cup rookies were addressed by veteran Ben Youngs earlier this week.

Cowan-Dickie said: “There was certain stuff Ben said – do the basics, do what you do for the team, don’t go outside of that and things will take care of themselves.

“For me and for the new guys, someone like that stood up at the front explaining what it is going to be like, gave us a boost.”

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