England make three changes for Italy

Maro Itoje played for England Saxons in their last outing

England head coach Eddie Jones has named his team to play Italy on Sunday in the Six Nations and given starts to Courtney Lawes, Mako Vunipola and Ben Youngs.

Second rower Lawes, tight-head prop Vunipola and scrum half Youngs all come into the starting line up while Maro Itoje has been named on the replacements bench.

Saracens’ Vunipola, who made a big impact off the bench in last week’s Calcutta Cup victory over Scotland, is selected in front of Harlequins’ Joe Marler as England go head-to-head with an Italian side who narrowly lost to France in Paris last weekend.

Lawes and Youngs replace Joe Launchbury and Danny Care who are both rotated to the bench while Saracens’ second row Itoje joins fellow debutant Paul Hill (Northampton Saints) who was unused last weekend.

Explaining the selection, head coach Eddie Jones said the three new names in his starting 15 had impressed off the bench at Murrayfield and suited the way he wants the side to play against Italy.

“We’ve made a few changes to the line up for Italy. I believe this is the strongest 23 to go to Rome and get the performance and result we want.” Jones said.

“Mako, Ben and Courtney have been pushing hard for selection during training, but they also fit the game plan we want to implement against Italy. Danny, Joe Marler and Joe Launchbury will all have a significant roles to play to finish the game.”

“It has been an intense week of training and I am pleased with how the group have responded to some of the things we’ve asked them to do. Maro has consistently impressed me this week and, together with his excellent club form, has deserved his call up to the match day squad.

“We are confident we can go to Rome and win, but we’re in no doubt of the challenge we face. Italy took France very close last weekend in Paris so they’ll be fired up.

“Josh Beaumont and Ollie Devoto will also travel with the squad to give them an opportunity to gain experience of Test match rugby.”


15. Mike Brown , 14. Anthony Watson , 13. Jonathan Joseph , 12. Owen Farrell , 11. Jack Nowell , 10. George Ford, 9. Ben Youngs ,1. Mako Vunipola , 2. Dylan Hartley, 3. Dan Cole, 4. Courtney Lawes, 5. George Kruis , 6. Chris Robshaw , 7. James Haskell, 8. Billy Vunipola

Replacements:16. Jamie George , 17. Joe Marler , 18. Paul Hill , 19. Joe Launchbury , 20. Maro Itoje , 21. Jack Clifford , 22. Danny Care, 23. Alex Goode

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