Eddie Jones has made three changes to his starting line-up for England’s trip to Italy in round two of the RBS Six Nations 2016. The England head coach has also named uncapped Saracens forward Maro Itoje on the bench.
England made a successful start a successful start to their Six Nations campaign beating Scotland at Murrayfield in round one, now they will be looking to build on that success. The Azzuri have never beaten England in 21 international encounters and few expect that to change on Sunday afternoon.
The three changes to the starting XV see Mako Vunipola, Courtney Lawes and Ben Youngs replacing Joe Marler, Joe Launchbury and Danny Care. All three made positive contributions off the bench in Scotland and have been rewarded with a starting spot.
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Vunipola was particularly effective making several powerful carries and showed brilliant handling skills in the build up to the crucial Jack Nowell try.
Jones told Sky Sports: “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.
“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 role to play to finish the game.”
One of the most exciting changes to the match day 23 is the inclusion of Saracens star Itoje on the bench.
The 21-year-old has produced continually excellent performances for his club this season at both lock and flanker. Jones spoke of Itoje’s inclusion saying “Maro has consistently impressed me this week and, together with his excellent club form, has deserved his call up to the match-day squad.”
England confident ahead of Six Nations clash
Italy produced a spirited performance against France in the opening game of the tournament and could have stolen the game late on; but inspirational skipper Sergio Parisse sliced a drop goal well wide of the posts.
They know the opening exchanges will be brutal and dominated by the forwards, but they are confident of victory with Jones saying “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.”
Expect a feisty Valentine’s Day encounter as England look to move towards their first Six Nations title since 2011. With Ireland (Saturday 27th February) and Wales (Saturday 12th March) both to play at Twickenham, Jones and his coaches know it is important to enter those games full of confidence.
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Image Credit – alasdair massie (Flickr)