Tuesday 21 February 2017

Lawes, Youngs and Vunipola named in England team to face Italy

Published 12/02/2016 | 10:13

England's Courtney Lawes in action against Scotland last weekend
England's Courtney Lawes in action against Scotland last weekend

England have promoted Courtney Lawes, Mako Vunipola and Ben Youngs to their starting XV for Sunday's RBS 6 Nations clash with Italy in Rome.

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Lawes replaces Joe Launchbury in the second row, Vunipola has been chosen ahead of Joe Marler at loosehead prop and Youngs is preferred to Danny Care at scrum-half for the trip to the Stadio Olimpico.

All three of the demoted players drop to the replacements, which also include uncapped lock Maro Itoje.

To accommodate the addition of Itoje, who has been in outstanding form for Saracens this season, head coach Eddie Jones has opted for a six-two split on the bench with centre Ollie Devoto dropping out.

"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 role to play to finish the game."

England team to play Italy in RBS 6 Nations at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday, February 14 (kick-off 1400GMT):

M Brown (Harlequins); A Watson (Bath), J Joseph (Bath), O Farrell (Saracens), J Nowell (Exeter); G Ford (Bath), B Youngs (Leicester); M Vunipola (Saracens), D Hartley (Northampton, capt), D Cole (Leicester), C Lawes (Northampton), G Kruis (Saracens), C Robshaw (Harlequins), J Haskell (Wasps), B Vunipola (Saracens).

Replacements: J George (Saracens), J Marler (Harlequins), P Hill (Northampton), J Launchbury (Wasps), M Itoje (Saracens), J Clifford (Harlequins), D Care (Harlequins), A Goode (Saracens).

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