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England missed an opportunity to drop Owen Farrell | ANDY DUNNE

England should look to line up a backline without Owen Farrell at some point under Steve Borthwick, according to former outhalf Andy Dunne.



England should look to line up a backline without Owen Farrell at some point under Steve Borthwick, according to former Leinster and Connacht outhalf Andy Dunne.

England fell to defeat against Scotland in the opening round of the Guinness Six Nations. It was Steve Borthwick's first match in charge of England since he replaced Eddie Jones at the beginning of this year.

While England's fortunes have not been good in the last 12 months, there is a view that Borthwick might be able to turn things around ahead of the start of the World Cup later this year.

However, Andy Dunne feels that the new coach missed an opportunity to switch up the playing personnel and drop their long-debated captain Owen Farrell.

Speaking on Wednesday Night Rugby, Dunne explained what he thought was wrong with the 10-12 axis for England against Scotland.

"I think he cornered himself a little by making Farrell captain," Dunne said. "I think he had an opportunity to pick a different captain.

"I don't think Marcus Smith should be dropped... it is changing their centre combinations. I don't know if I would [have Farrell in the team], no."

The current England captain has amassed 101 caps for his country, and a further six caps for the British and Irish Lions over the course of his career, switching between 10 and 12 seamlessly under different coaches.

However, Dunne feels that one of the reasons that England lacked fire on both attack and defence was that Farrell was lining up at inside centre.

"I don't see clarity in their attack," Dunne said. "I don't think he is a threat, Farrell, as an individual carrier. He isn't a threat in my mind.

"What he is is he's a demonstrative, dominant character. He is a very similar personality to [Johnny] Sexton, but he's not as influential in how the team play.

"He's got the verbals, and he's got the leadership and the experience in games, but if you look at his individual impacts in the game overall, he's wanting."

Farrell is 'the sum of his parts'

While he was alone in his observations, Dunne criticised Farrell as being 'the sum of his parts', and not offering more than any of the players that he is currently keeping out of the squad.

"He's not a dominant enough defender," Dunne said. "He's not a creative enough attacker. He's a good tackler, but he's also got that in his locker where he can go high.

"He could be in and around the team, but I don't think he's a [Manu] Tuilagi ballcarrier. He's not super creative, he's not fast. He's the sum of his parts and he's a kicker. But they have a good kicker in Smith."

While he stopped short of naming a captain to replace Farrell, Dunne hoped to see the end of the veteran outside half as England captain with the rise of Steve Borthwick.

"I wondered, had [Borthwick] an opportunity to look at a new departure going in and say, 'let's not make him captain', and keep him in around the squad," Dunne said.

"Ultimately I thought it was the safe choice, and I wouldn't have done it."

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