Eddie Jones picks in-form Henry Slade and Jonathan Joseph in centres with Jonny Hill partnering Maro Itoje in second row for England’s Six Nations showdown against Italy in Rome
- Eddie Jones has named an experienced team for first Test since lockdown
- England are heading into Six Nations finale against Italy without warm-up game
- Seven of the 15 players that started last time out are now unavailable to Jones
- He has gone with skilful combination of Henry Slade and Jonathan Joseph
Eddie Jones has named an experienced but fresh looking side to face Italy in the delayed Six Nations finale this Saturday with Henry Slade and Jonathan Joseph picked in the centres.
With seven of 15 players that started the last match now unavailable, the Australian has had to revamp his team for the clash in Rome.
In the centres, in-form Slade combines with Joseph and Owen Farrell will be pulling the strings from No 10 in the absence of Leicester fly-half George Ford.
Henry Slade (left) and Jonathan Joseph (right) will combine in the centres for England
Eddie Jones’s side can win their third Six Nations under his stewardship on Saturday
Injuries to key men Ford, Manu Tuilagi, Courtney Lawes, Elliot Daly, Joe Marler and Mark Wilson have forced a rethink and their absence will give fresh starters a chance to press their long-term claims.
But Jones has not opted for a batch of rookies to come in, instead preferring experience.
Powerful Worcester centre Ollie Lawrence misses out despite impressing in training and the fact that the warm-up game with the Barbarians had to be cancelled after players including Chris Robshaw and Richard Wigglesworth broke the coronavirus bubble, means there was no chance for the English youngsters to bed in.
Owen Farrell (left) has been picked at fly-half for England but Ollie Lawrence (right) missed out
ENGLAND TEAM TO FACE ITALY:
Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Jonny Hill, Maro Itoje, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola, Sam Underhill
Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell, Jonathan Joseph, Henry Slade, Jonny May, Anthony Watson, George Furbank
Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler are in the starting front row to face the Azzurri in the 4:45 kick off.
Jonny Hill edged out Charlie Ewels for a place alongside Maro Itoje in the second row while Billy Vunipola starts at No 8 alongside Tom Curry and Sam Underhill.
Jones has kept the faith in Northampton full-back George Furbank in spite of his dip in form over recent months and he will make up the back three with Anthony Watson and Jonny May.
England remain marginal favourites to become Six Nations champions for the third time under Jones but France, Ireland and Scotland are all in with a chance of winning it.
If Ireland beat France away with a bonus point it would guarantee them the title but that is a tough ask for Andy Farrell’s side and Jones will simply want his men to take care of their own business on Saturday afternoon.
George Furbank has not been at his best for Northampton but was given the nod for England