FORMER Southend Saxons loanee Jamie George has been named England captain for the Guinness Six Nations.

George, who has previously led the Lions and Saracens, takes the role for the first time following Owen Farrell’s decision to sit out the championship in order to prioritise his and his family’s mental wellbeing.

There are seven uncapped players in the 36-man squad, but their presence is overshadowed by the omission of Kyle Sinckler and Billy Vunipola – two stalwarts of the team for the previous two World Cup cycles.

George has won 85 England caps, plus three for the Lions, and is Borthwick’s first choice hooker.

“Last week Steve asked me to be captain for the upcoming Six Nations and I accepted with huge gratitude and enthusiasm,” George said.

“I love playing rugby for England. I hope that everyone has seen how much it means to me, I have never shied away from that.

“I am so excited about where this team can go and bringing the fans on that journey with us is something that I care about deeply.

“I believe I’m at the stage of my career where I can give my all to the captaincy and give my best on the pitch.

“I don’t underestimate the challenge ahead. Owen is a fantastic motivator and tactician, and we will undoubtedly miss his leadership.

“But I have got brilliant people around me, many of whom have won major tournaments, and utilising the great experience we have within the group is going to be crucial.”

George lined up for Southend, on loan from Saracens at the start of his career and impressed Saxons centre Chris Vaughan.

"At the time he was playing for us we had about five or six Saracens academy boys playing for us and for me he stood out,” said Vaughan.

“He had an outstanding side step on him for his size and could outpace most backs!

“He stood out as someone that could go on and play a high level of rugby."

George lined up for Southend during the 2008/09 season.