Te’o to start for England against Italy in Six Nations

Ben Te'

Te’o moved to Worcester at the start of the season from Leinster

Ben Te’o will make his first start for England in Sunday’s Six Nations match with Italy.

Te’o, 30, has won five caps as a replacement, but has been named at outside centre for the meeting with the Azzurri.

Danny Care partners George Ford at half-back, with Owen Farrell at inside centre and Elliot Daly on the wing.

“Ben Te’o at 13 gives us another way of playing the game,” said head coach Eddie Jones.

“We are excited about seeing him, George Ford and Owen Farrell play together in the midfield.”

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Care has made 10 Test appearances as a replacement since scoring a try in his last start against France in March 2016

Care last started for England in the Grand Slam showdown with France in Paris a year ago.

“Ben Youngs has been outstanding for us at number nine, but Danny Care gets the starting jersey this week,” added Jones.

“For the first half he’ll give us a lot of speed and running at the base of the ruck as well as the scrum. Ben will then come on and finish the game.”

Elsewhere wing Jonny May and flanker James Haskell both return to the starting XV, as Jones makes four changes from the side that beat Wales.

Haskell came off the bench in the wins over France and Wales.

“Tom Wood has been great for us at seven, and Jack Clifford did well against Wales but James Haskell has the starting role on Sunday; he has come back to a much better level of fitness and we are sure his explosive actions will help us in the first part of the game,” Jones continued.

Mako Vunipola has been included among the replacements after recovering from a knee injury, while Henry Slade is also included in the squad, with Anthony Watson missing out.

Farrell, 25, wins his 50th cap at Twickenham as England look to win their 16th straight game under Jones.

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“It is an important Test match for us and our only consideration is to play well. Italy have a proud record in Test rugby, they beat South Africa in November, and we will not underestimate them,” said the Australian.

“I know the Twickenham crowd will give Owen Farrell a big cheer. To reach 50 caps at such a young age is a fine achievement. The one thing I know about Owen is that his next 50 are going to be more impressive than his first.”



BBC Radio 5 live rugby union reporter Chris Jones

Te’o has made an explosive impact off the bench in the first two Six Nations matches, and is rewarded with a place in the starting XV for the first time.


Ben Te’o won Australia’s NRL Grand Final alongside former England centre Sam Burgess while the pair were playing for South Sydney Rabbitohs

Normally an inside centre, Jones has surprisingly selected him in the number 13 shirt, and he will provide the ball-carrying power England have missed in the absence of Manu Tuilagi, and which the last coaching regime hoped would be provided by another cross-code convert, Sam Burgess.

There were suggestions Owen Farrell would move to fly-half on the occasion of his 50th cap, but Jones has persisted with the playmaking combination of George Ford and Farrell at 10 and 12.

England team to face Italy

Brown; May, Te’o, Farrell, Daly; Ford, Care; Marler, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Itoje, Haskell, Hughes.

Replacements: George, M Vunipola, Sinckler, Wood, Clifford, Youngs, Slade, Nowell

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