Farrell to lead England against Ireland in Hartley's absence

Farrell now takes sole charge of the side, with Jamie George the starting hooker.

FILE: England's Owen Farrell during a training session. Picture: AFP

TWICKENHAM - Owen Farrell will captain England against defending champions Ireland in their Six Nations Championship opener in Dublin on 2 February, coach Eddie Jones announced Thursday.

Fly-half Farrell and Dylan Hartley were officially co-captains of the England squad during the November internationals but the experienced hooker has been ruled out of Jones's initial 35-man party ahead of their Championship opener at Lansdowne Road with a knee injury that has sidelined him since December 31.

England are due to head to Portugal next week for a warm-weather training camp in the lead-up to the Ireland match and Jones said: "Unfortunately Dylan won't be available for the Ireland game so we won't take him to Portugal, but we are hopeful he will be back later in the Championship."

Farrell now takes sole charge of the side, with Jamie George the starting hooker.

"Owen will be captain by himself and he will certainly have great support from a number of senior players," Jones said.

Veteran front row forwards Dan Cole has been recalled while loosehead props Mako Vunipola and Ellis Genge are back following injuries that ruled them out in November when England won three of their four Tests and lost only narrowly to world champions New Zealand.

Meanwhile, No 8 Billy Vunipola and lock Joe Launchbury are also in line for a recall but there was no place in this squad for scrum-half Danny Care, long the back-up to England first-choice No 9 Ben Youngs.

Wasps' Dan Robson, one of four uncapped players in the squad, has been selected in Care's place by Australian coach Jones.

England will be looking to improve on last season's lowly finish of fifth in what will be the last Six Nations before this year's World Cup in Japan.