Owen Farrell a doubt for England’s Six Nations opener due to ankle surgery

Owen Farrell is a doubt for the start of the Six Nations after it emerged the England captain requires surgery on his injured ankle. He limped out of last Saturday’s victory against Australia when making his 100th Test appearance and following surgery on Friday is set to be sidelined for up to 12 weeks.

It means Farrell is doubtful for England’s Six Nations opener away to Scotland on 5 February – in 11 weeks’ time – when Eddie Jones’s side seek to avenge this year’s 11-6 Twickenham defeat. Farrell’s absence would also deprive Jones of his influential leader as England set about atoning for their dismal 2021 Six Nations campaign in which they finished fifth. Furthermore, it would put on ice Farrell’s fledgling 10-12 partnership with Marcus Smith.

Jamie George, who sustained a knee injury against the Wallabies, is also set to be out of action for up to 10 weeks and faces a battle to prove his fitness for the Scotland match. He and Farrell would hope to play some part in England’s Six Nations campaign but there is the danger of history repeating itself, with a lack of game time for the Saracens contingent following their relegation for salary-cap breaches highlighted as a key reason why Jones’s side underperformed in this year’s tournament.

Indeed, Jones recently said of his captain’s loss of form last season: “His team was in the Championship, they had spasmodic training sessions, he didn’t get high‑quality games.”

George, meanwhile, has been in excellent form for Saracens since he was left out of Jones’s training squad in September and fought back to claim the No 2 jersey in the absence of Luke Cowan-Dickie. The Exeter hooker is set to be fit for the Six Nations, however, leaving George up against it to reclaim his place. Ultimately it is Saracens who will suffer the most, with Farrell also in fine fettle for the club in their first season back in the Premiership.