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TRIPLE CROWN; England look to the future with three debutants.


OWEN FARRELL, Brad Barritt and Phil Dowson will make their England debuts in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash with Scotland after taking three very different routes to the top.

Saracens pair Farrell and Barritt will become England's first uncapped centre pairing since 2002 - and only the second since 1969 - while Dowson gets his long-awaited chance at number eight.

England's interim head coach Stuart Lancaster has named another five uncapped players on the bench for the Calcutta Cup showdown as he looks to build "a team for now and a team for the future".

Lancaster's starting line-up boasts just 236 Test caps, including Lions appearances, compared to Scotland's 501. The Scottish pack alone has more international experience than England.

Farrell has been fast-tracked from a loan spell at Bedford to the senior England team, and a start at inside centre against Scotland, in the space of 16 heady months.

Barritt, whose maternal grandparents were born in England, pledged his allegiance to the red rose after moving from South Africa to Saracens in 2008.

Dowson, 30, is a decade older than Farrell and at the opposite end of the spectrum, having waited six years frustrating years to get his opportunity with England.

"The first thing I did was phone my sister Louisa. She asked me why it took so long," said Dowson.

"I played my first Saxons game in 2005, a lifetime ago in sports terms. I've tried to use the experience of not being picked as motivation to get here and it's finally paid off.

"I want to make sure I seize that opportunity and relish it."

Dowson, inexplicably to some, failed to make England's World Cup training squad despite his central role in Northampton's run to last season's Heineken Cup final.

"He's hugely experienced as a leader, he's desperate to play for England and that is a big factor for me," Lancaster said.

"He has worked and worked and worked, tried and tried and tried and he deserves his opportunity to get the start."

In contrast, Farrell has rocketed into the England side. He started last season on loan at Bedford but took his chance with Saracens after being recalled to cover an injury crisis.

Farrell proved his big game temperament in Saracens' Aviva Premiership final victory over Leicester and he is relishing the prospect of stepping out into the Murrayfield cauldron.

The 20-year-old has no doubts he is ready.

"The team gets picked on form and nothing else. I am looking forward to getting stuck in," Farrell said.

"Stuart has put a system in place where players can go out and express themselves and I am really looking forward to being part of that.

"The build-up is different but (the mindset) doesn't change for me whether the crowd is 82,000 or 6,000. I am looking to take the atmosphere in, I am looking to enjoy it and hopefully thrive off it. It's what you play rugby for, to enjoy those moments. I try to take my nerves and put them into excitement."


NEW KIDS IN THE PACK: Owen Farrell, left, Phil Dowson, above, and Brad Barritt, below
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUE
Date:Feb 3, 2012
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