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Rugby

England coach Jones opts for change against Italy

Owen Farrell will lead England out against Italy on Sunday at Twickenham to mark his 50th international cap for his country.
Owen Farrell will lead England out against Italy on Sunday at Twickenham to mark his 50th international cap for his country. Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

England rugby union coach Eddie Jones on Friday announced a shuffled pack for his side's Six Nations game against Italy on Sunday at Twickenham. Former rugby league star Ben Te'o will make his full debut, with Danny Care recalled to the starting side. 

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New Zealand born Te'o, 30, will start in midfield alongside Owen Farrell and George Ford.

Farrell, 25, who will win his 50th cap in the match, will lead England out ahead of skipper Dylan Hartley.

"I know the Twickenham crowd will give Owen a big cheer," said Jones. "To reach 50 caps at such a young age is a fine achievement. The one thing I know about Owen is that his next 50 are going to be more impressive than his first."

Jones promised changes after England's last gasp victory over Wales at the Principality Stadium on 11 February.

"Ben Te'o at number 13 gives us another way of playing the game and we are excited about seeing him, George Ford and Owen Farrell play together in the midfield," Jones said.

All of Te'o's five previous caps have come off the bench, but he steps into the starting slot in place of Jonathan Joseph after impressing as a replacement during the 2017 tournament against both France and Wales.

Care, who has only made two starts under Jones, comes off the bench to play at scrum-half, with the regular number nine, Ben Youngs, among the replacements. "Ben Youngs has been outstanding for us at number nine, but Danny Care gets the starting jersey this week," Jones said. "For the first half he'll give us a lot of speed and running at the base of the ruck as well as the scrum. Ben will then come on and finish the game."

Jones is attempting to guide England to their 17th consecutive victory and as part of that quest has selected Jonny May on the right wing in place of Anthony Watson and flanker James Haskell in the back row.

The match will be 31-year-old Haskell's first Test start since last year's victorious tour of Australia after seven months out of the 1st XV following foot surgery.

"Tom Wood has been great for us at number seven and Jack Clifford did well against Wales but James Haskell has the starting role," added Jones. "James has come back to a much better level of fitness and we are sure his explosive actions will help us in the first part of the game."

England have never lost to Italy who voyage to Twickenham on the back of a 63-10 thrashing by Ireland a fortnight ago.

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