Six Nations 2013: England team to play Italy

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Mako Vunipola will make his first start for England in Sunday’s RBS 6 Nations match against Italy at Twickenham Stadium (3pm, BBC One).

The Saracens prop, who has won seven caps off the bench, replaces Joe Marler in one of five changes from the side that started against France.

Danny Care and Toby Flood take over at halfback from Ben Youngs and Owen Farrell respectively; Tom Youngs comes in for Dylan Hartley; and James Haskell is named at blindside flanker in place of Courtney Lawes.

Tom Croft of Leicester Tigers is back in the England matchday squad for the first time in 12 months following his recovery from a neck injury, while Freddie Burns joins him among the replacements as Farrell needs more time to return to full fitness.

England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster said: “We were very happy with the way we finished the France game. The impact the replacements made shows that we have competition for places across the board and we have had to make some tight calls.

“Italy will be highly motivated for this game and we will have to perform for the full 80 minutes. I am sure those starting will seize their chance and the bench will also have a significant part to play as the game goes on.

“The support at Twickenham for the Scotland and France games was superb and I am sure the atmosphere will be fantastic again for our final home match of the Championship.”

England (v Italy, Sunday, 3pm, Twickenham Stadium)
15. Alex Goode (Saracens, 9 caps)
14. Chris Ashton (Saracens, 32 caps)
13. Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 19 caps)
12. Brad Barritt (Saracens, 14 caps)
11. Mike Brown (Harlequins, 14 caps)
10. Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers, 55 caps)
9. Danny Care (Harlequins, 39 caps)
1. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 7 caps)
2. Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 7 caps)
3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 38 caps)
4. Joe Launchbury (London Wasps, 7 caps)
5. Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers, 15 caps)
6. James Haskell (London Wasps, 48 caps)
7. Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, capt, 15 caps)
8. Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 16 caps)

Replacements
16. Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 45 caps)
17. David Wilson (Bath Rugby, 24 caps)
18. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 8 caps)
19. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 18 caps)
20. Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers, 36 caps)
21. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 31 caps)
22. Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby, 1 cap)
23. Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby, 2 caps)

What do you make of the changes?

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29 comments on “Six Nations 2013: England team to play Italy

  1. Yes it’s good to see Croft return,but I think to rush him back in after so little game time seems a little ill considered.Along with Lancaster’s Ashton obsession I think it sends out confused messages regarding his picking on performance culture.It’s starting to feel like one rule for one…Also,could be the sort of game where Ashton runs a few in,is hailed as world class again and then is horribly exposed by the welsh.I probably sound a bit negative but I can see it happening.

  2. I personally feel we have missed Morgan these past few matches, so would love to have seen BV given a start (Hask plays better from the bench IMO). Not sure what is to be gained from playing Croft. Clearly the Mgt wont cap BV next week and I’m not sure a back row of Croft, Robshaw and Wood is right for the Wales game and it would be a risk to play Morgan, without any game time. Hopeing to be proved wrong…

  3. Agree with Benjit.We have missed Morgan and the back row needs a specialist 8,Croft and Woods are not as effective as ball carriers and despite what has been said by some on this blog I think it significantly effects the scrum.

  4. The interesting dilemma now is what if Ben Morgan is fit next week? He has been out a long time so surely it would be too soon to bring him back into the team short of match fitness. However watching the video about selection on the RFU website Lancaster did mention him as a consideration for next week.

    • If Vunipola can’t even get on the bench fully fit, I don’t think Morgan should be selected with no game time since the Scotland game. It would be harsh on other members of the team.

  5. I agree with the comments about playing an 8 at 8 but now we don’t have one i would rather see Haskell at 8 than Woods. Think Woods is better at 6 and Haskell pace and power off the base of scrum could be a useful weapon.

  6. SL hasn’t made too many changes which in terms of structure is a good thing. He may be looking to the summer to take a good look at the “next” generation, which is probably the correct call. Many of the existing team still need to add experience – only 5 of the 15 starters with over 20 caps. So with some changes forced on him I would say that this is about right.

    Would however add to the calls for an 8 at 8, meaning Wood at 6 and Haskell not starting! Not sure what Foden isn’t doing, but not sure that he has been as good as he was in the AP since injury so maybe just lack of form.

    Also hope we get an extended look at 12Ts and Tuilagi on Sunday.

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