Six Nations 2018: England team to play Italy in opener

Eddie Jones has named his side for England’s NatWest 6 Nations game against Italy in Rome on Sunday (kick-off 3pm, live on ITV).

Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints) captains an experienced side with 689 caps across the starting XV in what will be his 90th Test for England.

Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors) will partner Owen Farrell (Saracens) in the centres after nearly a year’s absence from the England side.

Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs) starts at number eight for his fourth cap while fellow club mate Alec Hepburn could make his England debut having been named as a finisher.

Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers) will start his 56th Test match overtaking Matt Dawson’s record of most starts for an England halfback while Danny Care (Harlequins) will equal Dawson for most caps as scrum half (77) if the finisher plays a role in the match.

“I have selected the strongest available side to play Italy this weekend and the players are excited to play in Rome,” said Jones.

“Our preparation over the last two weeks has been excellent and the players feel refreshed. We want to start the tournament well and are ready to go hunting against Italy.


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“We know we need to get our set piece right, be defensively strong and play with aggression and plenty of energy.”

“England are looking to make history by defending their NatWest 6 Nations title for a third consecutive year.”

England team to face Italy
15 Mike Brown (Harlequins 64 caps), 14 Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby 28 caps), 13 Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors 8 caps), 12 Owen Farrell (Saracens 53 caps), 11 Jonny May (Leicester Tigers 29 caps), 10 George Ford (Leicester Tigers 40 caps), 9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers 73 caps), 1 Mako Vunipola (Saracens 44 caps), 2 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints 89 caps), 3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers 77 caps), 4 Joe Launchbury (Wasps 47 caps), 5 Maro Itoje (Saracens 14 caps), 6 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints 61 caps), 7 Chris Robshaw (Harlequins 59 caps), 8 Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs 3 caps).

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