Te’o set for first England start vs Italy

Warriors centre Ben Te’o will start his first game for England on Sunday when they take on Italy at Twickenham in the RBS 6 Nations (kick-off 3pm, live on ITV). 

The hard-hitting back will start at 13, having previously made five appearances for England from the bench, including a match-winning try against France in the RBS 6 Nations opener earlier this month. 

There are four changes to the starting 15 that beat Wales last time out with Te’o, Danny Care, Jonny May and James Haskell all coming in.

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

Sunday’s match will see 25-year-old back Owen Farrell win his 50th cap for England having made his debut against Scotland at Murrayfield in 2012.

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

“Selection was tough. Te’o at 13 gives us another way of playing the game and we are excited about seeing him, George Ford and Farrell playing together in the midfield.

“Ben Youngs has been outstanding for us at number nine, but 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 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 Farrell a big cheer. To reach 50 caps at such a young age is a fine achievement. The one thing I know about him is that his next 50 are going to be more impressive than his first.” 

15 Mike Brown (vice captain, Harlequins, 57 caps)
14 Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 24 caps)  
13 Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors, 5 caps)  
12 Owen Farrell (vice captain, Saracens, 49 caps)
11 Elliot Daly (Wasps, 10 caps)   
10. George Ford (Bath Rugby, 32 caps)
9 Danny Care (Harlequins, 68 caps)  
1 Joe Marler (Harlequins, 48 caps)
2 Dylan Hartley (captain, Northampton Saints, 81 caps)
3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 71 caps)
4 Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 39 caps)  
5 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 55 caps)
6 Maro Itoje (Saracens, 9 caps)
7 James Haskell (Wasps, 72 caps)  
8 Nathan Hughes (Wasps, 5 caps)

16 Jamie George (Saracens, 14 caps)
17 Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 39 caps)
18 Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 5 caps)
19 Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 47 caps)
20 Jack Clifford (Harlequins, 9 caps)
21 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 67 caps)
22 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 4 caps)
23 Jack Nowell  (Exeter Chiefs, 20 caps)