Ben Youngs and Jamie George will both hit major milestones for England when Eddie Jones’ men face Italy in Saturday’s Six Nations clash.
Scrum-half Youngs is set for his 100th cap, becoming the second-most capped England men’s player after Jason Leonard, while hooker George will make his 50th appearance.
Head coach Eddie Jones had handed Exeter Chiefs’ Jonny Hill his debut in the second row alongside Maro Itoje, with uncapped trio Tom Dunn, Ollie Lawrence and Ollie Thorley named among the replacements.
“The team have prepared well and are looking forward to putting on an England shirt and showing what they can do,” Jones said.
It’s testimony to their skill, hard work and love of playing for England, and there is more to come from both of them.
Eddie Jones on Ben Youngs and Jamie George
“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.”
Youngs and George will lead the team out in Rome this weekend as England go hunting for a bonus-point victory which they need to retain their hopes of lifting the Six Nations title.
In total, there are seven changes to the starting line-up from the team Jones fielded in England’s 33-30 win over Wales in their last Six Nations game pre-lockdown on March 7.
Injuries to Elliot Daly and George Ford mean George Furbank returns to the side at full-back, while captain Owen Farrell shifts from fly-half to inside centre.
That means Henry Slade comes into the starting XV alongside Jonathan Joseph, who replaces another injury victim in Manu Tuilagi – sent off against Wales – in midfield.
Jones goes into the match without a back-up fly-half among his replacements, with Wasps scrum-half Dan Robson the only other back in reserve for him to call on along with Worcester Warriors centre Lawrence and Gloucester winger Thorley.
In the pack, there are recalls for Mako Vunipola in the front row, and Sam Underhill and Billy Vunipola in the back row, and Billy Vunipola’s return means Tom Curry shifts from No. 8 to blindside flanker. Meanwhile, Bath hooker Dunn will hope to win his first cap backing up George.
“We’ve trained with good intensity this week and the squad are excited by the challenge of performing at our best against Italy,” Jones added.
Team to face Italy
England: 15 George Furbank; 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Henry Slade, 11 Jonny May; 10 Owen Farrell (c), Ben Youngs; 1 Mako Vunipola, 2 Jamie George, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Jonny Hill, 6 Tom Curry, 7 Sam Underhill, 8 Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Ben Earl, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Ollie Lawrence, 23 Ollie Thorley.
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