Itoje wins first England start

Date published: February 25 2016

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Eddie Jones has named second row Maro Itoje (Saracens) and loosehead prop Joe Marler (Harlequins) in his starting XV to face Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday.

Marler and Itoje replace Mako Vunipola (Saracens), who moves to the bench, and Joe Launchbury (Wasps), who was deemed unfit to play on Wednesday, in two changes to the XV that started in the 9-40 Six Nations victory over Italy in Rome.

Elsewhere Wasps centre Elliot Daly is included as a replacement for the first time. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints) also makes the bench having been recalled to the squad.  

England head coach Eddie Jones said: “I have been pleased with the attitude the squad have shown during a comprehensive two weeks of training. Everyone is pushing hard to be in contention so there were some tight calls on selection.

“Joe Marler made a big impact off the bench in Rome and will start at loose-head with Mako Vunipola finishing the game. Joe Launchbury is unlucky to miss out through injury; Maro Itoje is selected as a result and we’re pleased for him.

“Elliot Daly has worked hard this week and is now ready for a place in the 23. He can provide cover in several positions in the back line.  

“Playing our first game at Twickenham after two away fixtures will be huge for us.  We’re determined to put in a strong performance against a clever Irish side who are the benchmark of European rugby.”

England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Anthony Watson, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 James Haskell, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 Jack Clifford, 21 Danny Care, 22 Elliot Daly, 23 Alex Goode

Date: Saturday, February 27
Venue: Twickenham
Kick-off: 16:50 GMT
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant Referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Alexandre Ruiz (France)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

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