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The Roar


Eddie Jones plays it safe with England selections

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11th February, 2021
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England coach Eddie Jones has kept faith with the bulk of his regulars after their dismal defeat by Scotland as he expects his side to go on the front foot against Italy in the Six Nations at Twickenham.

Having played poorly to lose 11-6 at home to the Scots last week, Jones has opted against throwing in fresh faces, with exciting uncapped backs Paolo Odogwu and Harry Randall not even making the bench.

Young centre Ollie Lawrence, who has barely touched the ball in his fledgling international career, is out of the squad as Jones has recalled George Ford at flyhalf and moved Owen Farrell back to centre alongside Henry Slade.

First-choice props Mako Vunipola and Kyle Sinckler return, with Luke Cowan-Dickie making his fourth start on his 28th appearance at hooker.

Courtney Lawes comes in at blindside flanker, with Tom Curry continuing at openside and Billy Vunipola at No.8.

Explaining his midfield shuffle, Jones said: “We know that George and Owen operate well at 10 and 12. We’d like to get Sladey into the game more.

“It was a difficult game for him (Lawrence against Scotland) but he’s a young guy and this is all part of learning his trade. He is going to be a great player for us.”

As for Randall and Odogwu, who many England fans would love to see get a run out, he said: “Both those guys are making inroads and progress and each week they get a little bit closer.”

Jones said his target this week was a return to “good English rugby – that involves having good set piece, good defence and then being able to take those opportunities as they come in attack.


“We want to be playing front-foot rugby, that’s when we’re at our best, that’s when we are one of the most damaging teams in the world and that’s what we want to get back to.”

Meanwhile, Italy head coach Franco Smith has opted to add more experience to his youthful side after handing starts to centre Carlo Canna and prop Andrea Lovotti.

An injury to Marco Zanon sees Zebre playmaker Canna start at inside centre for his 49th Azzurri appearance, making him the most capped player in the starting lineup.

England team (15-1): E Daly, A Watson, H Slade, O Farrell (c), J May, G Ford, B Youngs; M Vunipola, L Cowan-Dickie, K Sinckler, M Itoje, J Hill, C Lawes, T Curry, B Vunipola

Replacements: J George, E Genge, W Stuart, C Ewels, B Earl, J Willis, D Robson, M Malins