With the 2018 6 Six Nations starting tomorrow, slight favourites and defending champions England have named their starting line ahead of Sundays Game against Italy in Rome.
Following England’s well documented injury concerns leading up to this year’s Six Nations, Head coach Eddie Jones revealed earlier this week that Full Back Mike Brown and Winger Jack Nowell had both made remarkable recoveries to return to training, with Brown being named at full back.
Another Surprise selection is the inclusion of British and Irish Lions centre Ben Te’o who had effectively been ruled out of the game weeks ago due to an ankle injury that has kept the former Queensland Rugby League player side lined since last October. Thankfully after returning from Australia where he has been undergoing rehabilitation he will line up along side Owen Farrell in the mid field. Jonny May and Anthony Watson take their spots on the wing to make up the three quarters.
With Farrell being preferred in the centres, that means Ben Youngs will partner George Ford in the half backs.
In the pack Exeter Chiefs Sam Simmonds make his debut starting at number 8 in the absence of injured pair Billy Vunipola and Nathan Hughes, with Chris Robshaw and Courtney Lawes making up the back row. Maro Itoje has recovered from the hip problem that threated to keep him out earlier this week and will join the experienced Joe Launchbury in the back row, while Skipper Dean Hartley will line up with Leicester Tigers Prop forward Dan Cole and Mako Vunipola to complete the front row.
That means Jonathan Joseph and Jack Nowell will give cover for the backs from the replacement bench with Danny Care and Harry Williams as the half back replacements. Exeter Chief Prop forward Alec Hepburn will make his England debut should he come on, while Saracens 2nd row George Kruis earns a recall having missed the Autumn Internationals. Jamie George and Sam Underhill complete the 23 man squad.
England team to play Italy: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Ben Te'o, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Mako Vunipola, 2 Dylan Hartley, 3 Dan Cole, 4 Joe Launchbury, 5 Maro Itoje, 6 Courtney Lawes, 7 Chris Robshaw, 8 Sam Simmonds.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Harry Williams, 19 George Kruis, 20 Sam Underhill, 21 Danny Care, 22 Jonathan Joseph, 23 Jack Nowell.