Ben Youngs will win his 100th international cap for England this weekend after being named in their starting line-up for the Six Nations decider against Italy.
Head coach Eddie Jones has named a heavily-changed squad from Englandâs win over Wales in March, with seven players from that team ruled out of selection for this weekendâs âSuper Saturdayâ encounter.Â
The side shows seven personnel changes to the one that defeated Wales 33-30, with Elliot Daly, Manu Tuilagi, George Ford, Joe Marler, Courtney Lawes and Mark Wilson all ruled out with injury, while George Kruis is preparing to move to Japan after leaving Saracens.
Captain Owen Farrell returns to fly-half to cover the injury-enforced absence of Ford, who misses out with an Achilles injury, having started the last six Tests at inside centre. It means that fit-again Henry Slade returns to the starting XV in the unfamiliar role of inside centre, with Jonathan Joseph outside him in the absence of Tuilagi.
Jonny May and Anthony Watson continue on the wings, but with Daly ruled out with a knee injury George Furbank returns at full-back for the first time since the second championship game against Scotland in February.
A fit-again Mako Vunipola returns at loosehead prop with Maro Itoje joined by Exeter Chiefsâs uncapped lock Jonny Hill in the second row, and with Billy Vunipola fit to start after recovering from the broken arm that ruled him out of the rest of the Six Nations earlier this year, Jones reverts to his favoured back-row unit that impressed at the Rugby World Cup with Tom Curry restored to flanker alongside Sam Underhill.
Uncapped trio Tom Dunn, Ollie Lawrence and Ollie Thorley provide cover for the backs among the replacements, along with scrum-half Dan Robson, where they are joined by props Ellis Genge and Will Stuart, lock Charlie Ewels and back row Ben Earl.
England go into the final match of the championship at risk of being undercooked, having seen last weekendâs warm-up against the Barbarians cancelled after a number of their players breached coronavirus protocols, but Jones is confident that they have made up for that setback in training this week.
âWeâve trained with good intensity this week and the squad are excited by the challenge of performing at our best against Italy,â Jones said.
âThe team have prepared well and are looking forward to putting on an England shirt and showing what they can do.
âWe will also celebrate two major achievements in Ben Youngs and Jamie Georgeâs cap milestones. Itâs testimony to their skill, hard work and love of playing for England, and there is more to come from both of them.â Ben Youngs will win his 100th international cap for England this weekend after being named in their starting line-up for the Six Nations decider against Italy.
England team vs Italy
George Furbank; Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Henry Slade, Jonny May; Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler; Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill; Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: Tom Dunn, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels, Ben Earl, Dan Robson, Ollie Lawrence, Ollie Thorley