STOP Owen Farrell and you stop England – that is the message for Scotland this weekend from their former skipper Andy Nicol.

Much of the focus this week ahead of the Calcutta Cup has focused on Farrell, who picked up a leg injury against Wales in round two and has not trained fully since.

But the Saracens and England playmaker has been deemed fit enough to start this Saturday at Murrayfield, named in his now familiar Red Rose No.12 shirt alongside George Ford. 

Farrell – who has never lost to Scotland in five previous meetings since his debut against them back in 2012 – kicked the decisive penalty to earn the British & Irish Lions a share of the spoils last summer against the world champion All Blacks. 

And Nicol – himself a two-time Lion – has labelled the 26-year-old as the Championship’s stand-out star who must be stopped at all costs. 

“Yes, it’s a great rivalry, Scotland have put themselves back in the mix, but England are very strong,” said Nicol, who was speaking at Alnwick this week with Mitsubishi Motors as part of its Kits 4 Clubs initiative.  

“In Owen Farrell, they have the standout player of the Six Nations, who has such a mentality right now that inspires the players around him. He has that X Factor, not in the same way as a Beauden Barrett or a Jason Robinson, but it’s that mental toughness that he has that makes England a very good side.

“But Wales showed you can pressurise England, that they’re a momentum team, that you can put them off their game. 

“So it’ll take a monumental effort from Scotland; their accuracy has to be bang on to where it was in Autumn and if they do that, they have a chance.

“England though have to be favourites with the quality, the consistency they’ve showed, but sometimes, the favourites don’t win.”

The initiative will allow rugby clubs across England to earn new playing kit and training equipment – Produced by England Rugby partners Canterbury and Gilbert, and Scottish Rugby partners Macron, the kit available for clubs includes essential items such as playing jerseys, training tops, rain jackets, practice bibs, balls, contact wedges and more.

Nicol captained Scotland to victory over the Auld Enemy at Murrayfield back in 2000.

That victory ended a ten-match Scottish losing streak against England but, fast forward 18 years, and it is a similar story. 

England have not lost to Scotland in their last ten matches – although Scotland did claim a draw back in 2010 – and arrive in Edinburgh as the hot favourites once again.

The defending champions are going for an historic hat-trick of titles but Scotland have only lost once at home in the last three Championships – that was Jones’ first game in charge back in 2016 – and Nicol hopes home comforts can make the difference. 

“This would be a great game for Scotland to win because it’d continue that run at Murrayfield,” he added.  

“Home form is fantastic if you get on a roll and get that fortress mentality and people start talking about it. 

“To an extent, it’s beginning to be talked about at Murrayfield, which we haven’t had in a long time, maybe ever, so that’d be great if it can continue. 

“I just want to see Scotland play to their potential. We didn’t see it in Cardiff, saw glimpses of it against France, but to beat England, we need to play to the full potential and I think this team has the ability to do that.” 

Key to those chances will be Scotland fly-half Finn Russell, withdrawn in the second half against France after a poor showing that saw Greig Laidlaw move to No.10 and guide the Scotland home.

But Nicol is confident the Racing 92-bound Russell’s strength of character will win out. 

“I really hope Finn Russell bounces back. Yes, he hasn’t played well so far but he knows that himself,” he added.  

“He has a wonderful temperament though for international rugby, he doesn’t carry the baggage. 

“He’ll be just looking at the opportunity to go out on Saturday and play the best he can and we know that if he plays well, that’s very good - he can get Scotland going.

“So there’s some really great matchups, great players and I think it sets up beautifully.”

Scottish Rugby legend, Andy Nicol was speaking on behalf of Mitsubishi Motors as they delivered new playing kit and equipment to Alnwick Rugby Football Club as part of their Kit 4 Clubs initiative. To find out more visit