Six Nations 2018: England team to play Italy

Ben Youngs

Eddie Jones has named the team to take on Italy in this weekend’s Six Nations opener.

England team to face Italy

Starting 15
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)

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)

What do you make of this line up?

24 thoughts on “Six Nations 2018: England team to play Italy

  1. This is a great-looking team, given all the talk of injuries and absences. Billy would come back in at 8, but there’s not much else you’d change at this stage.

    1. One thing most of us seem to agree on is not playing fours or fives at six! If we can’t find a couple of genuine sixes who are int’l class ,we are in deep do do.

  2. Like Te’o in, it makes sense to give him an hour against Italy as he hasn’t played in a long time.

    Can’t stand seeing the 7 on Robshaw’s back, especially with Underhill on the bench. It’s almost as bad as seeing the 6 shirt on a locks back.

  3. Very happy with the team – I wanted to pick Te’o to give us some bulk but didn’t think there was any chance of him being fit in time! Without injuries, would have loved to see Farrell, Te’o, Slade.
    If Nowell does come on at 13 as expected, maybe it will be for Ford?

    Only disappointment is I am still not a fan of Robshaw at 7 and a lock at 6 – but losing my voice from going on about it and its not a disaster.

    Very excited for Sunday!

  4. What a bench. It looks like (though I’m probably wrong) Jones has picked a fairly heavy pack to wear the Italians down, with the grizzly old props softening up first half to then bring on the newbies in the 2nd for a gentle introduction to test rugger… Then will bring on the likes of Underhill to turn over lazy ball at rucks, and Nowell; Care and Joseph to inject some pace.

    1. A proper “finishers” bench. Care and JJ are both very quick and should do damage in the closnig stages.
      I would have started Nowell with May to finish, but still a very strong bench and starting 15 considering injuries.

        1. I’m a little less confident seeing Nowell AND JJ on the bench…! I guess either of them could play 11, 13, 14 or 15.

          Expecting a few tries in the final quarter.

          1. Teo may not be fit so will make way, can also see Brown coming off with Watson switching to full-back for the last stages of the game. Nowell to wing and JJ to centre in this case.

  5. Not the biggest fan of the 3 lock scenario, but will probably be fine against Italy.

    Would have liked to see Farrell to 10, Te’o at 12 and Joseph at 13. I know the Ford/Farrell axis has worked so far, but I don’t think there’s enough individual attacking threat between the two of them to work against the very best teams.

    2 playmakers is fashionable at the moment, but I don’t think it’s the only way to play.

    1. That´s just an extra leg then Hutch! Don´t like Robshaw at 7, but with Mercer going home Simmonds had to play 8, which limited options. Wrong hooker as usual, and Danny Care must wonder what he has to do to get a start in front of Youngs. His form is far better, he has a better pass, and his kicking game is much improved. Will be interested to see if Téo is fit enough to last 60 minutes.

      1. I think his main issue is that:
        “Care is our finisher” makes sense for all the reasons listed.
        “Youngs is our finisher” does not for all the reasons listed.

        So if Jones rated someone like Simpson or Robson then Care would have a better shout at starting.
        That said, while Care is playing better, Youngs is still a more controlled 9.

        1. I understand the reasoning Mike but don´t subscribe to the argument. Care is a far better player now than he was two years ago, whereas I don´t think Youngs is. If he is not up to being on the bench then you have to try someone else, maybe Spencer, Vellacott or Townsend. I know it is a contentious view, but I actually think that one of the reasons we have not seen the best of Ford either with Leicester this season or with England is that Young´s pass is slower and less reliable than Care´s (or Harrison´s for that matter) and gives Ford marginally less time to get on the front foot. If your bench scrum half is not motivated to feel he can displace the incumbent it must eventually be discouraging, particularly when you are in the form of your life.

          1. To be honest, I don’t like the argument either. Apparently Eddie doesn’t pick Simpson or Robson because they don’t do the basics well enough – ignore the flash stuff. In which case I don’t really see anyone sticking their hand up above Youngs.

            Never been a fan of the “form is temporary, class is permanent” approach, but I also agree that Eddie should not be handing out caps to every scrumhalf in the hope that one works.

            Of those three listed I like Vellacott. But all three (and add Maunder to the list) need to show they are first choice for their clubs. Especially Spencer who is currently behind an ex-England SH.

  6. I would have played Robshaw at 6, with underhill at 7and put lawes on the bench. If underhill is considered to be the future at 7 then I think he needs to be playing now, especially in games like this, where the win should be comfortable.
    Lawes could then go really hard for the last 20/30 mins of the match.

  7. I like the look of the team. Not a fan of locks at 6, but it makes sense. looking at the back 5 players available (without Billy V and Hughes) the ball carriers are Itoje, Lawes, Launchbury and Kruis (when on form). playing Simmonds Underhill and Robshaw would severely restrict the ability to carry in traffic. It would not be good for the players or team to put that pressure on Simmonds or Underhill given their experience.

    Much of the discussion seems to be based on Italy coming out and playing in a “normal” fashion or “as expected”. Surely O’Shea will do something different, even if it is playing a less physical more open game plan. Even he has admitted if both teams come out and play their best then England wins. That is not really in question.

    So what will Italy do? What are the weaknesses of this team?

  8. Strong team for the first game. Only really unhappy with Lawes at 6 and Robshaw at 7. But like Henry I’ve wasted enough breath railing about it. Just hope he doesn’t keep it up for the better teams.
    Agree with Andy about Care and of course, the hooker.
    Interested to see how Hepburn gets on

  9. Like the side, need quicker and wider ball out to Simmonds to be effective in the channels and Te’o looks like he will be used to blast through holes in the defence.

    I personally would of liked to of seen Watson given another run at Full Back as I still feel we are slightly exposed back there.

  10. I don’t like Robshaw at 7 or Lawes at 6. That back row would get stuffed by Ireland or Wales. Underhill should have been at 7 to get more experience.

  11. I don’t really understand all the worry or dislike of Lawes at 6 and Robshaw at 7? Both Lawes and Itoje have played a lot of their rugby at 6 in their careers and are better, more experienced players than Underhill. We know that Robshaw is outstanding no matter what number he has on his back.
    Personally I am more concerned about Brown and T’eo starting considering recent injuries. Why not rest Brown and let Earle have a game? T’eo especially must have been impressive in training to be starting.

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