England make three changes

Date published: February 12 2016

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Eddie Jones has named second row Courtney Lawes, tighthead prop Mako Vunipola and scrum-half Ben Youngs in his starting side to face Italy at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday.

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.

Courtney Lawes and Ben Youngs replace Joe Launchbury and Danny Care who both move to the bench.  Elsewhere Saracens’ second row Maro Itoje is included as a replacement for the first time joining 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 XV 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.”

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

Date: Sunday, February 14
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Kick-off: 15:00 local (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

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