Jones picks in-form Slade and Joseph in centres for Italy clash

Eddie Jones picks in-form Exeter lock Jonny Hill to make debut alongside Maro Itoje for England’s Six Nations showdown against Italy in Rome

  • Eddie Jones has named an experienced team for first Test since lockdown
  • England are heading into Six Nations finale against Italy without warm-up game  
  • One debutant Jonny Hill has been rewarded for strong Exeter Chief’s displays 
  • Jones has gone with skilful combination of Henry Slade and Jonathan Joseph 

Exeter lock Jonny Hill will make his debut in England’s Six Nations showdown against Italy on Saturday.

The lock has starred for his club since the restart, helping Exeter with their charge to the Premiership and European double.

Hill is the only uncapped player in the starting XV, with Eddie Jones opting for experience for the trip to Rome.

Jonny Hill has been rewarded for his Exeter form with a starting spot in the England team

Henry Slade (left) and Jonathan Joseph (right) will combine in the centres for England 

Ben Youngs will earn his 100th England cap at scrum-half, while Jamie George will reach the 50-cap milestone at hooker.

‘We’ve trained with good intensity this week and the squad are excited by the challenge of performing at our best against Italy,’ said Jones.

‘The team have prepared well and are looking forward to putting on an England shirt and showing what they can do.

Starting XV: Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Jonny Hill, Maro Itoje, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola, Sam Underhill Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell, Jonathan Joseph, Henry Slade, Jonny May, Anthony Watson, George Furbank 

Bench: Tom Dunn, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels, Ben Earl, Dan Robson, Ollie Lawrence, Ollie Thorley

‘We will also celebrate two major achievements in Ben Youngs and Jamie George’s cap milestones. It’s testimony to their skill, hard work and love of playing for England, and there is more to come from both of them.’

In the centres, in-form Henry Slade combines with Jonathan Joseph, with Owen Farrell pulling the strings from No 10 in his first game back from a five-week ban.

Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler are in the starting front row to face the Azzurri in the 4:45 kick off.

Hill edged out Charlie Ewels for a place alongside Maro Itoje in the second row while Billy Vunipola starts at No 8 alongside Tom Curry and Sam Underhill.

Jones has kept the faith in Northampton full-back George Furbank in spite of his dip in form over recent months and he will make up the back three with Anthony Watson and Jonny May.

Injuries to George Ford, Manu Tuilagi, Courtney Lawes, Elliot Daly, Joe Marler and Mark Wilson have forced a rethink and their absence has created space on the bench for the uncapped trio of hooker Tom Dunn, centre Ollie Lawrence and winger Ollie Thorley. 

George Furbank has not been at his best for Northampton but was given the nod for England 

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