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Te’o to make first England start against Italy

Ben Te’o will make his first England start against Italy in the third round of the Six Nations outside Owen Farrell who will win his 50 Test cap.

The Worcester centre is one of four changes to the starting XV made by Eddie Jones with Danny Care, Jonny May and James Haskell named at scrum-half, wing and openside.

On the bench Mako Vunipola returns to an England match-day 23 for the first time this year having recovered from a knee injury.

The loosehead is included alongside Jack Clifford, Ben Youngs, Henry Slade and Jack Nowell who will all finish the game.

“We have had a good two-week preparation for Italy and we’re ready to go,” said England head coach Jones.

“We trained very well in the city last week and this week the training has been very impressive. The boys are really on song, we have had great competition for places, and we’ve picked a very strong 23 to play against Italy.

“Selection was tough. Ben Te’o at 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.

“Ben Youngs has been outstanding for us at number nine, but Danny Care gets the starting jersey this week. 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.

“Tom Wood has been great for us at seven, and Jack Clifford did well against Wales but James Haskell has the starting role on Sunday; he 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.

“It is an important Test match for us and our only consideration is to play well. Italy have a proud record in Test rugby, they beat South Africa in November, and we will not underestimate them.

“I know the Twickenham crowd will give Owen Farrell a big cheer. 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.”

England: Mike Brown; Jonny May, Ben Te’o, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly; George Ford, Danny Care; Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole; Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes; Maro Itoje, James Haskell, Nathan Hughes

Replacements: Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, Kyle Sinckler, Tom Wood, Jack Clifford, Ben Youngs, Henry Slade, Jack Nowell

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