England legend picks his Red Rose fly-half for the 2024 Six Nations

Colin Newboult
England fly-half candidates for the Six Nations, Owen Farrell, George Ford and Marcus Smith.

England fly-half candidates for the Six Nations, Owen Farrell, George Ford and Marcus Smith.

Rugby World Cup-winning number eight Lawrence Dallaglio has selected who he would prefer to start for England at fly-half in the Six Nations.

Owen Farrell, who is the captain, is the current incumbent, but head coach Steve Borthwick also has George Ford and Marcus Smith as options.

Ford starred in Farrell’s absence early on in the Rugby World Cup, guiding the Red Rose to a crucial 27-10 triumph over Argentina, before the skipper took over ahead of the knockout stages.

Next four-year cycle

Those two are the wrong side of 30, however, and with a new World Cup cycle just beginning, Borthwick may want to develop Smith.

The talented Harlequin has slipped behind Ford and Farrell in the pecking order but was used at full-back during the global tournament.

Fly-half is likely the 24-year-old’s long-term position, though and he is a player England could build their team around.

The issue for the head coach comes with the captaincy and the balance of his midfield. Farrell has been tried alongside both Smith and Ford at centre, but Borthwick seemed to abandon that idea during the World Cup.

If the Saracens star is to be replaced, then Borthwick needs to find a new skipper, which is made more difficult by Courtney Lawes’ retirement.

“Owen Farrell is England’s number 10 at the moment, and he’s also England’s captain,” Dallaglio told TNT Sports. “Unless you move the captaincy, there is no debate about who the number 10 is.

“England have lost more games in the Six Nations than they’ve won in the last two years, so their target is to start winning games – beating Scotland would be nice, because we seem to lose to Scotland all the time.

“England’s number 10 will be Owen Farrell. Marcus Smith is in the conversation, as is George Ford, but mark my words, Steve Borthwick and Owen Farrell are together on this.”

Finding new blood

Dallaglio may be going for experience at fly-half, but the England legend understands that Borthwick also needs to bring in younger players.

The confirmed international retirements of Lawes, Ben Youngs, and Jonny May has left squad spots open at blindside, scrum-half and wing, respectively, while the head coach may also want to look beyond Joe Marler, Jamie George, Danny Care and Manu Tuilagi in the 2024 Six Nations.

Even individuals such as Kyle Sinckler, Billy Vunipola and Elliot Daly are already into their 30s and might be usurped by younger players.

“In the next tournament after a World Cup, there are spaces up for grabs,” he said.

“If I’m playing today or next week, I’m laying a marker down, because Steve Borthwick is going to bring some new people into his squad, and as far as I’m concerned, all places are up for grabs.”

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