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Eddie Jones' England team shows one change from the XV Conor O'Shea predicted last week

O’Shea was very close, but Ben Te’o starts in the centre for Sunday’s clash in Rome.

Image: Adam Davy

“OKAY, I’LL PICK Eddie’s team for him…”

With injuries of his own to worry about, Conor O’Shea wasn’t willing to engage in the sympathy surrounding England’s injury crisis leading in to the Six Nations.

At the Championship launch last Wednesday, the Italy head coach happily dispelled English fears by naming a formidable starting XV available to the back-to-back champions.

“(Mako) Vunipola, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole, Courtney Lawes, Joe Launchbury, (Maro) Itoje at six, Chris Robshaw, Sam Simmonds at eight. (Ben) Youngs or (Danny) Care, (George) Ford, (Owen) Farrell, (Jonathan) Joseph, (Anthony Watson) Watson, (Jonny) May, (Mike) Brown.”

Today, England boss Eddie Jones has named 14 of those named by O’Shea to start Sunday’s meeting in Rome (kick-off 15.00 Irish time). Jonathan Joseph – who scored a hat-trick in this fixture two years ago – is among the replacements with former Leinster centre Ben Te’o starting outside Owen Farrell.

The only other error in O’Shea’s predicted line-up were the numbers assigned to Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes, though the locks have continually switched between blindside and second row under Jones.

Exeter prop Alec Hepburn is in line for his Test debut amid the spate loosehead absentees.

England (v 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)

‘Finishers’

16 Jamie George (Saracens 20 caps)
17 Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs uncapped)
18 Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs 5 caps)
19 George Kruis (Saracens 21 caps)
20 Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby 3 caps)
21 Danny Care (Harlequins 76 caps)
22 Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby 35 caps)
23 Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs 23 caps)

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Sean Farrell

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