British & Irish Lions

England's Jones hails 'calm' Heinz ahead of Scotland Six Nations clash

Willi Heinz (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Willi Heinz (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Bagshot - Eddie Jones has praised the "calm head" and experience of Willi Heinz even though he is replacing England's most-capped scrumhalf Ben Youngs for Saturday's Calcutta Cup clash against Scotland.

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Youngs, who has 96 England caps, was dropped to the bench as Jones made five changes to his starting XV following the World Cup finalists' 24-17 defeat by France in their Six Nations opener.

New Zealand-born Heinz, 33, only made his England debut in a World Cup warm-up against Wales last year and the Gloucester scrumhalf was a surprise inclusion in Jones's squad for Japan 2019.

He has since mainly featured for England as a back-up to Youngs, with this weekend's Calcutta Cup clash representing just his 11th Test and first Six Nations start after he came off the bench in Paris.

Heinz missed the World Cup final defeat against South Africa with a hamstring injury, a match in which Youngs struggled behind a retreating pack.

Both Youngs and Heinz were shown up by France's lively scrumhalf Antoine Dupont in Paris on Sunday.

But England coach Jones believes the former Canterbury half-back's time spent playing rugby in different environments will be good preparation for the hostile atmosphere England are set to encounter at Edinburgh's Murrayfield.

"He has got great experience," said Jones of Heinz at England's training base on Thursday.

"He's played with a number of good players, has experienced rugby in the northern and southern hemispheres. He's got a good solid, all-round game, is a good communicator and has got a calm head."

Jones's men were on the receiving end of an inspired Scotland display two years ago at Murrayfield as they went down 25-12 before somehow squandering a 31-0 lead in an extraordinary 38-38 draw at Twickenham last year.

"It's always a tough game, especially up there," said England captain Owen Farrell when asked about the special challenge of rugby union's oldest international fixture.

Jones has brought in flanker Lewis Ludlam, lock George Kruis and prop Mako Vunipola to replace Courtney Lawes, Charlie Ewels and Joe Marler in the England side.

Jonathan Joseph, who came off the bench in Paris, starts at centre in the ongoing absence of Manu Tuilagi with a groin injury.

England were 17-0 behind at half-time in Paris and Jones admitted: "We're not happy with how we played in the first 40 minutes against France."

Victory at Murrayfield would be timely for England following two conclusive defeats in a row.

"Consistency is a challenge for every team," said Jones.

"We're always trying to learn and find ways to get better. We had a good lesson last week. Sometimes these things need to be learned."



15 Stuart Hogg (captain), 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Blair Kinghorn, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Ali Price, 8 Magnus Bradbury, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Scott Cummings, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Rory Sutherland

Substitutes: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Ben Toolis, 20 Nick Haining, 21 George Horne, 22 Rory Hutchinson, 23 Chris Harris


15 George Furbank, 14 Jonny May, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell (captain), 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Tom Curry, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Lewis Ludlam, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola

Substitutes: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Courtney Lawes, 21 Ben Earl, 22 Ben Youngs, 23 Ollie Devoto

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