England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland confirm squads for 2023 Guinness Six Nations

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Ken Owens and Dan Cole

Dan Cole is back for England for the first time since the 2019 World Cup as one of a number of British & Irish Lions recalled in Steve Borthwick’s first squad in charge.

The tighthead prop featured in all three Tests when the Lions beat Australia back in 2013, and was also part of the squad that toured New Zealand four years later.

And now, at the age of 35, he has been brought back into the fold for England’s 2023 Guinness Six Nations campaign under new coach Borthwick.

Taking over from Eddie Jones – who the Lions will face in 2025 in Australia – Borthwick has mixed things up with a number of familiar faces brought back into his squad.

Among them is Elliot Daly, fresh from a first-half hat-trick for Saracens at the weekend, with the 2017 and 2021 Lions tourist in flying form at the minute.

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While Cole and Daly had been out of favour in recent times, Courtney Lawes was a guaranteed starter and even skipper when fit.

However injury kept him out of the Autumn Nations Series, and his return will have been welcomed by Borthwick who has named the flanker as one of his vice-captains.

The captaincy itself goes to another Lion, Owen Farrell, who has been part of the last three Lions squads with the standout moment being his match-winning penalty in the second Test of the drawn series against New Zealand.

Farrell had served as captain for much of Jones’ tenure, and while Lawes took over for parts of 2022, Borthwick has restored the Saracens playmaker as his leader.

Borthwick said:

“This is an exciting squad, with a blend of Six Nations experience and young talent, and includes players who are in excellent form in the Premiership.

“We are all looking forward to the challenges of the Six Nations and we will approach this great tournament with a spirit of courage and total commitment.

“I know the players can’t wait to get back to Twickenham and give our fans a performance they can be proud of.

“The hard work for the Scotland game starts now.”

Owens to captain Wales

Ken Owens will lead Wales in the 2023 Guinness Six Nations after being named captain in Warren Gatland’s first squad since returning to coach the side.

Two-time British & Irish Lions tourist Owens will captain Wales for the first time having skippered the Lions against the Blues in 2017.

Wales’ most-capped hooker is joined in three-time Lions head coach Gatland’s squad by Dan Biggar, Liam Williams and Wyn Jones, who missed the Autumn Nations Series with injuries.

“Ken’s incredibly experienced and a passionate Welshman – it means a lot to him to play for Wales,” Gatland said. “He’s also very popular with the players.

“He came back from injury and was absolutely outstanding during the autumn campaign.

“Probably, if you’re picking a team at the moment he’s the number one in that position.

“But he’s going to have some competition with Dewi [Lake] and Bradley [Roberts] as well which is going to be great.”

Four-time Lions tourist and 2021 captain Alun Wyn Jones could add to his record 155 caps for Wales having been named in the 37-man squad, while Leigh Halfpenny is in line to reach a century of Wales appearances having represented his country 97 times.

Josh Adams, the Lions’ top try-scorer in 2021, is named among the backs alongside Ospreys and Lions duo George North and Alex Cuthbert.

Wales begin their Six Nations campaign at home to Ireland on 4 February, before a trip to BT Murrayfield the following week to take on Scotland.

Hogg looking to century

Stuart Hogg has the chance to bring up a Scotland century after being named in Gregor Townsend’s 2023 Guinness Six Nations squad.

The three-time British and Irish Lions tourist currently sits on 96 appearances for his country and could pass the century landmark during the Championship.

Stuart Hogg

There is a return to the squad for experienced players Huw Jones and Sean Matiland, the latter included in the 2013 Lions Tour to Australia, whilst the captaincy is handed to Edinburgh’s Jamie Richie, who led Scotland in all four of their Autumn Nations Series outings.

2021 tourists Ali Price and Finn Russell are named amongst the backs, their international experience vital as Townsend called four uncapped players into his squad.

“Just now, I think rugby is so competitive within the Guinness Six Nations but also World Rugby”, said Townsend, who was part of Warren Gatland’s coaching staff on the 2021 Tour.

“It’s a real pleasure to bring Huw and Sean back in. In 2021, they were very key players for us throughout that Guinness Six Nations.

“Both of them are very experienced players that have played against England well in the past and will provide real competition.

“We have a three-day camp next week and that will be catching up and connecting, reviewing the autumn and setting our plans for the Guinness Six Nations.”

Sexton fit to play

Johnny Sexton is fit to play and is named as captain in Andy Farrell’s Ireland squad for the 2023 Guinness Six Nations.

There were concerns within the Ireland camp that the two-time Lions tourist would be ruled out of at least the opening rounds with a facial injury, but he has recovered in time and will be looking to add to his 109 Ireland caps.

Sexton is joined by Tadhg Furlong in the squad, with the Ireland tighthead also ready to play having overcome a calf injury.

Furlong, who played in all six tests in the 2017 and 2021 tours, is joined in the forwards by fellow Irish Lions Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Cian Healy, Iain Henderson, Peter O’Mahony and Andrew Porter.

Three-time tourist Connor Murray is named among the backs, with his experience and that of Keith Earls invaluable as Ireland look to go one better than their second placed finish last season.

2021 tourist Bundee Aki is also included, looking to add much needed ballast to the midfield with Robbie Henshaw ruled out with a wrist injury.

“The Six Nations is a huge competition for us and another opportunity for us to grow as group,” said Farrell, who was Lions defence coach in 2013 and 2017.

“2022 was a busy year as we got to work with a larger group of players as we continued to build our squad depth and competition for places.

“While there are a few players carrying knocks and others that have missed out on selection for the start of the tournament, they will have the opportunity to push their case playing for their provinces in the URC over the coming weeks as no doubt we will need to call upon the wider group as the tournament progresses.”

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