Both England and Wales will be led by fly-halfs in the Six Nations.
The teams announced their extended squads for the upcoming competition on Tuesday, with Owen Farrell retained as England captain despite not having played rugby since November, when he suffered an ankle injury during victory against Australia.
Dan Biggar, another No 10, will captain Wales while Alun Wyn Jones recovers from shoulder surgery which he needed after also picking up an injury in Autumn Testing. This will be Biggar’s first time as captain.
Farrell’s return – he will look to prove his fitness on Sunday with a return for Saracens against London Irish in the European Challenge Cup – meant there was no recall for George Ford, despite his outstanding domestic form for Leicester Tigers.
Marcus Smith and uncapped Bath player Orlando Bailey have been included as flying halfbacks, with Farrell set to move into centers if coach Eddie Jones decides to launch Smith.
Ford is one of many big names that continue to be overlooked, along with Mako and Billy Vunipola and versatile full-back Elliot Daly.
Sam Underhill, still in the 2019 Rugby World Cup squad and a key member of Jones’ back row so far, has also been overlooked.
Uncapped players Alfie Barbeary, Ollie Chessum, Tommy Freeman, Ollie Hassell-Collins and Luke Northmore join Bailey in the squad amid Jones’ overhaul ahead of the 2023 World Cup in France.
Winger Jack Nowell is making his first appearance for an England team since the World Cup after recovering from a string of injuries.
England beat Tonga, Australia and South Africa in November.
Wales coach Wayne Pivac says Biggar’s experience means he is ideal for the role as a substitute for Jones, who has had two shoulder surgeries since his injury against New Zealand in October .
“With the experience missing, we wanted someone who had experienced competition many times and knew the rigors of it,” Pivac said.
“He gives us that. He has 95 caps for Wales and has toured with the British and Irish Lions. Dan has the respect of other players and management, so we think he will do a great job.
George North, Leigh Halfpenny, Ken Owens, Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau missed out through injury with Jones but flanker Ross Moriarty, who hasn’t played since the fall due to a health problem. shoulder, was part of the group of 36 men.
The squad included three uncapped players in hooker Dewi Lake, flanker Jac Morgan and No. 8 James Ratti.
The Six Nations begin on February 5, with Wales starting in Ireland and England in Scotland.
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