Five possible England captains

Date published: November 25 2015

England will contest the 2016 Six Nations under a new head coach but will they have a new captain on February 6? We look at their options.

They face Scotland at Murrayfield in a difficult start to Eddie Jones' tenure and after the upheaval of change at the top coaching role – we wait to see if Stuart Lancaster's off-field team remains – the big question on everyone's lips is will Chris Robshaw stay as skipper?

Robshaw endured a tough Rugby World Cup as for the second time a decision he made came back to bite the team, this time possibly for the last time. Not progressing out of the pool stage means that the likelihood of the Harlequin keeping his job looks decidedly slim.

So who will take over should Jones wield the axe before February? We have picked out five contenders to lead out England against Scotland.

Possible England skippers

Joe Launchbury: The ever-strengthening option to take over as England look for a fresh start after the Rugby World Cup. Eddie Jones wants someone who's guaranteed to be a starter and Launchbury is surely that at the moment after helping lead Wasps to a promising start to the season. Launchbury doesn't seem to be the most vocal of players but like a certain successful England second-row of the past, he does his talking on the field by leading by example. Most definitely one of the front-runners who at 24, has plenty of seasons left in his career.

Ben Youngs: Has looked impressive for Leicester so far this season and has been England's first-choice scrum-half for a decent stretch, so could be an option to Jones. While Richard Wigglesworth and Joe Simpson are playing well for Saracens and Wasps respectively, Youngs seems likely to remain the starter in the Six Nations, with the jury remaining out on whether Jones is a fan of Danny Care. Close to the action and with a good rugby brain to increase or decrease England's tempo when required, Youngs is not as much of an outside bet some may think.

Chris Robshaw: Openly criticised by Jones during the World Cup in a newspaper column and after a difficult tenure as leader, surely change is afoot in the England captaincy? Robshaw is set to sit down with his new coach for a talk, which one would suspect might be a clear the air in an honest one-to-one, so his fate rests on whether he impresses Jones. However, we can't help but think the coach's mind is made up.

Dylan Hartley: He lost his captaincy duties at Northampton this season as Lee Dickson took over and with that blow coming after being left out of the Rugby World Cup squad, Hartley's surely classed as a dark horse here. Would being the England skipper calm the often hot-headed hooker or is this just not worth the risk? The number two jersey is however back up for grabs for the Saint after Jones said the slate is wiped clean so a battle with Tom Youngs and Jamie George awaits. Anything more than that would be a major surprise from our point of view.

Maro Itoje: Here's an interesting one. Just 21 years of age but the noises coming out of Saracens are all positive about the future of a versatile forward who can play lock or blindside flanker. Saracens seem to have him on a path to become their long-term skipper and with England's six shirt very much up for grabs, a move to install Itoje as England captain would be the cleanest of clean starts under Jones.