Six Nations 2019: England team to play Italy

Eddie Jones

England head coach Eddie Jones has selected his team to play Italy in their next Guinness Six Nations match on Saturday 9 March at Twickenham Stadium (KO 4:45pm live on ITV).

There are five changes to the starting XV that played Wales a fortnight ago. Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby) starts on the right wing for his third cap while Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors) comes in at inside centre with Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers) moving to outside centre.

Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers) starts at loose head prop with Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs) shifting to the bench. Joe Launchbury (Wasps) is named in the second row following the injury of Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints) in Cardiff. Brad Shields (Wasps) will start at blindside flanker with Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons) named as a finisher.

Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers) and Nathan Hughes (Wasps) are both named as finishers having not been involved in England’s previous match against Wales.

“We have had a good preparation ahead of Italy with a great week in Oxford where we competed against Georgia for two days,” said Jones.

Players have had a good break and have come back into camp reenergised and refocused for what is an important game for us.”

He added: “Italy is a bit of an unknown quantity but when Conor allows them to play rugby they play well. They have played terrific games in the Six Nations. They are fitter, physically stay in the contest a lot longer and they are quite unpredictable in the way they attack.

“We expect Italy to throw the ball around a bit so we are going to have to defend very well against their unpredictability and when we have got the ball, we have to use it wisely.”

On returning to Twickenham, Jones said: “We are looking forward to getting back to Twickenham. We haven’t played there since the France game so it will be nice to play in front of our home crowd.”

England starting XV (472 caps)

15 Elliot Daly (Wasps, 28 caps)
14 Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby, 3 caps)
13 Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 30 caps)
12 Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors 16 caps)
11 Jonny May (Leicester Tigers, 43 caps)
10 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 68 caps) (captain)
9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 83 caps)

1 Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 7 caps)
2 Jamie George (Saracens, 35 caps)
3 Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 20 caps)
4 Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 56 caps)
5 George Kruis (Saracens, 30 caps)
6 Brad Shields (Wasps, 6 caps)
7 Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 8 caps)
8 Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 39 caps)

Finishers (203 caps)

16 Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 9 caps), 17 Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs, 6 caps), 18 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 83 caps), 19 Nathan Hughes (Wasps, 20 caps), 20 Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons, 11 caps), 21 Dan Robson (Wasps, 1 cap), 22 George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 53 caps), 23 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 20 caps)

31 thoughts on “Six Nations 2019: England team to play Italy

  1. So that’s Dan Robson not getting game time and two centres that can’t pass. Might as well give Big Joe, May, and Daly coats to keep them warm because they’re never going to see the ball. What a waste of an opportunity.

  2. Robson should be starting because he needs game time if England want to have more than 1 experienced scrum half. Also I would have dropped Hughes because he’s awful and had lock cover on the bench.

    Other than that not bad. Goog to see Genge getting a start.

    1. Ten Ton Donut cannot agree more about Nathan ‘Poor Man’s Billy’ Hughes, great for Wasps, Shite for England, feel sorry for Sam Simmonds, great player.

        1. Don’t really follow Exeter as my team is in The Championship, so I didn’t know that but he’d still loose out to Nathan Hughes regardless.

  3. The acid test is whether Farrell,Teo and Tuilagi can fashion the space for Joe and Johnny to create Mayhem.If they cant do this against the weakest 6 Nations side then the big bosh approach needs to be consigned to the dustbin and reversion to a selection which puts brains before brawn.If Teo and Tuilagi cant create holes they don’t have the handling skill and dexterity to fashion chances for the wingers.

    1. Trouble is JS10 that even if they CAN do it against the weakest side in the six nations it will prove nothing.

  4. Read an interesting stat that Slade has scored more tried than he’s made passes this six nations. England’s tactics obviously part of the reason behind this.

  5. I refer to my earlier comment re Ed’s thought process. I’m baffled. We know Italy always front up physically but Manu and T’eo? No second row on the bench? Robson will probably get about five minutes off the bench. No point to his selection, Jones Granny could do a five minute walk on. Ah well……..

  6. I said on the previous post about the 27 man squad that I wouldn’t want to see T’eo on the bench to come on and partner Manu…….it didn’t mean I wanted to see them start together!!!!

    That selection alone baffles me to be honest and I don not understand what Eddie is hoping to achieve? In the Wales game Manu was barely used with ball in hand, so why bother having him and T’eo?
    No second row on the bench, but a big lump of uselessness in Hughes!? So if we lose Shileds in the first five minutes we have Hughes playing at 6 for 75 minutes and Billy playing 80 with no second row cover!?
    Next question is we will see Ford and Robson actually get on the pitch in this game? Robson being another pointless addition to the squad (no offence to him of course!)

    Whilst I appreciate that we want to win this game convincingly, I simply do not understand the continued inclusion of Hughes, at the expense of an out and out second row?

    Would we not have been better giving the like of Robson, Ewels, Thorley and Earl a chance to shine with some good back up on the bench?

  7. Agree with all the comments above.
    I just don’t understand, why at the 11 th hour, he’s still trying to decide how we’ll play at the WC.
    I can’t see why, what was a well executed game plan against Ireland, can’t be replicated against Italy. Surely that high tempo game, is the one that will give us the best chance in the WC.
    Players just need to perform.
    If Farrell and Young’s had had good games against Wales, we would have won.
    Like you say Chaser, wingers get your winter clothes on!!

  8. EJ rewarding Youngs and Farrell for sticking to his script and not showing the game-awareness or willingness to adapt that one should expect from players with 150 caps between them.

    Te’o and Manu together makes great headlines but long term is it the answer, given their injury history and no obvious like-for-like replacements?

    I imagine we will win well but this will mask our deficiencies. After this we have one more meaningful test match before RWC 19. With a bunch of ‘leaders’ (or perhaps this is a Farrell dictatorship) who are unable to adapt on the pitch, I am not hopeful.

  9. The normal EJ selection.. Some exciting good things e.g. Cockanasiga alongside some frustrating and downright annoying e.g. Hughes, no Robson and a midfield with the passing ability of a 3 wheeled dump truck. Really feel for Robson, I don’t what he has to do. Not sure what this is going to tell us going forward to be honest, feels like a wasted chance.

  10. Manu and Te’o together has been on the cards for a while now. Its just been a matter of when not if.
    Robson benching is just bizarre. No lock is odd, as is the continuing faith in Hughes.
    Genge and Joe C starting are good things.
    Overall this is not a team picked to prise open a stout defence with any guile. It’ll hammer away and wear down the Italians. We’ll win, and probably quite comfortably.
    Longer term does it help us develop a more imaginative attacking game? Probably not.

  11. I’m hoping that starting Youngs and Faz is a confidence building exercise after the below par Wales game. And if they get off to a strong start as they did against Ireland and France that changes will be made with meaningful game time left.

    As for the Manu and Te’o pairing, maybe it’s a plan B in the making? The pair of them are going to suck in significant defencive cover creating line break opportunities, maybe not for the wings but potentially for Daly. I’m going to remain positive for now….

    It was good to see a more competitive Italy against Ireland, so it does have the potential to be a close game. However If the angry energised England team that beat Ireland turns up though, it won’t….

    1. A team to ‘close the gap on the AB’s’ L. War wick? Pity that they went in southerly direction last time to immediately undermine yr ‘gap’ theory, which seems to have developed a, er, gap in it. It’s not a ‘confidence building exercise’ that’s required, but a brain building one. Their’s, not.. although, come to think of it. It’s not so much v Italy that the midfield’s ‘going to suck in significant defencive cover creating line break opportunities’ that really matters, it’s v WC 1/4 final teams that it will. Called forethought. Also, it’s not a ? of if ‘the angry energised England team that beat Ireland turns up’, it’s whether they will get countered as per Wales that it matters. On Sat it’s unlikely that it will matter what type of game England play. However, that they will v likely be countered in the near future should be of more concern. Yr optimism would be commendable if only it weren’t so unfounded.

  12. I don’t think there’s much of a gap between nearly all the tier one countries. I don’t think I mentioned NZ. I think I said England against Ireland was reminiscent of NZ. I still think it was, accurate clinical rugby with few mistakes and a near full 80 minute performance.

    Recent results demonstrate the gap. Ireland beat NZ, England beat Ireland. Wales beat England. Wales beat SA, SA beat NZ…..and not that long ago Japan beat SA. What a brainless performance that was by EJ….

    And I think Manu is slightly more than a 3 wheeled dump truck….

    1. I agree with the assessment of the ireland performance and to a lesser extent france but why in the name of all that’s holy do we swing so wildly between brilliant and backward? We can’t keep being so inconsistent. Don P is right. better teams than Italy lie in wait and they will exploit any flaw or weakness ruthlessly.
      I don’t know how long you’ve been a Rugby fan but those of us who can remember the ’03 vintage England had every right to be fully confident of at least making the final and ,in all probability, winning it. Can we say the same about the current lot? At present we can’t even be sure about how they will play! I don’t know how much the RFU are paying Ed and his staff but whatever it is, it feels like too much.

      1. Remember 2003, I remember ‘91 !

        And we had big tournament scares in both before reaching the final.
        Against Wales in 03 we conceded a try from an ill thought out cross field kick, and then Wales scored from one of their own. Plus ca change eh? And then Wales spurned a gilt edged chance for the lack of a pass….

        The only relevance really is to highlight how games then and now are won and lost on fine margins. The 2003 poor performance is confined to history and the team and coach is now sacred, and rightly so.

        Yes we weren’t good against Wales in the second half in Cardiff. But it probably started at the end of the first, and was compounded by the lack of a pass from Manu in the second. Fine margins again. And let’s not forget other teams equally have spells of performance.

        And Don what I think does matter, it matters as much as what you think or anyone else for the matter. It’s a blog, it consists of people’s thoughts and opinions…..

        Something to do with not agreeing with what is said but agreeing with the right to say it…

        1. Well, I expect that all our blogs matter LW.. to each of us. And you’re right of course, we’re all entitled. However, I challenge people’s’ opinions when they’re based on too little evidence. Hence, presumably, I am also entitled to do?

    2. Lot of thinking LW, but it doesn’t matter what YOU think. It’s what is actually onjective that counts. This stuff about various 1 off, cherry picked games is just too flimsy to bear scrutiny. For a start, NZ played England away & it was a 1 off. The Saffa game you mention was in NZ, but how many times has Barrett missed 4 in a row & the AB’s thrown 2 intercepts? These things happen, but they’re not the norm. Besides, NZ reversed the result in SA. If you base yr opinion on these occasional occurrences, you’re piddling into the wind. From a selfish POV, I’m glad that you do, but more worryingly for you, is if Eddie too believes in yr skewed perceptions. And Tui didn’t even look like a 3 wheeled dump truck v Wales did he? Need a reality check fella.

  13. I agree that he is Lord War Wick but my comment was about the midfield rather than him in particular. As strong and direct as it may be, it does look to lack creativity and passing ability to release the back 3. Just my opinion though, you may be right.. Find out Sat.

  14. To me the big surprise is that Robshaw is not back in the squad somewhere. I thought he would get a chance to re-establish himself. Same applies to JJ. Not starting Robson is simply insulting. How long is he expected to wait? Too many duff selections in terms of WC planning. No idea why Hughes makes the squad, but good to see Dan Cole rewarded for stepping up his game after being dropped. Shame EJ has not noticed that Mike Brown has done the same.

  15. I think this could be a canny selection actually. One thing that is becoming increasingly apparent is that world class defenses and defence coaching is working out team attack play very quickly indeed. As soon as a team finds a winning formula and then replicates it with success a few times in a row they almost always seem to be found out. Look at England folllowing our unbeaten run in 2017, Ireland now and it will happen to Wales soon. So, has Eddie realised that the Ireland match was the formula, the way we should and will play in the World Cup to give us the best chance of winning and said, okay, it’s worked twice against Ireland and France, came unstuck in the second half against Wales, so let’s shelve it as ‘Plan A’, not give teams anymore visibility of it in post match reviews to plan against it and then work up a ‘Plan B’ option against Italy & Scotland. We know Plan A works but we also know, ala second half in Wales, that we need another option just in case. This could be it. It might not be but at least he is rolling the dice. This screams World Cup planning to me. Not headless or unthought through selection. In Eddie we must trust!

    1. Paulo, yr long winded spin doctoring will undoubtedly land you a job in politics, but it has little to do with rugby reality. England’s R1 was a1off v Ireland. V Fr, with their ‘back 3’, any kindergarten side would have waltzed it. That the game sucked England into their old comfort zone of even more R1. Well, v Wales when leading @ 1/2 time, neither the coach, captain or scrum1/2 had the wit, nous, will or ability to do other than brain freeze by continuing to kick themselves to death til the egg timer ran out. Working up a plan B? Why wasn’t or isn’t there already a plan B in place? Hardly rocket science. ‘Screams WC planning’!? Really? G’luck in trusting yr albatross.

      1. I’ve baked the most lovely humble pie today Don, email me your address and I will post you a slice ;0) In Eddie we must trust!

    2. I kind of agree Paulo – I was expecting Jones to name a different lineup precisely with that ‘how does plan b work’ approach. I just thought it would be different! Expected to see Ford/Farrell/Tuilagi to see how the twin playmakers go with some power in Manu and Cokanasiga to work with.

      Tbf, while I don’t think it is the best selection, it could be a viable option at the world cup, to just steamroll the likes of Tonga and the USA.

      I will echo everyone to say supremely disappointed Robson is not starting. He had better get a good 30 mins off the bench otherwise what is the point in even having him in the squad. He won’t be picked for the world cup squad with 20 minutes total international experience.

      1. HK, why is this England midfield being seen as an option v the likes of Tonga, USA whose teams are unlikely to feature @ the business end if the WC? It’s like fiddling whist the 1/4 finals will be burning. It’s NO prep for the real thing. It’s too in the day to start playing catch up now isn’t it? Can’t see the point.

  16. Oddly, whilst in a Richmond coffee gaff yesterday, actually saw EJ strolling past the train station. Gave a thumb gesture to my friend pointing Eddie out through the front window. Ed saw this & returned the gesture, presumably thinking that I was giving HIM a thumbs up! If only.. Anyway, Andy’s Robshaw comment seems indicative of Ed’s nature by, OT1H, calling Robbo up, then ejecting him, but then OTOH, incl Joe Cocka. As he also did, by persisting with the 1/2’s who failed last time (what price Dany Cip then & now?), as with Daly (nr the end anyway), but by then compounding things by picking a dreadnought midfield & ommiting the rock like Brown again.. latter also alluded to by Andy. Additionally, leaving the 2nd row short, as too has been mentioned. As a selector, I think Ed would be a better employed as a Brexit negotiator. Still & conversely, Eddie looked as though he might have been an interesting guy to have had a beer with.. if no cameras were around. Bit diff in real time/life?


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