Te'o to play in England centres vs Italy



England coach Eddie Jones has selected a powerful centre pairing of Ben Te'o and Manu Tuilagi for Saturday's Six Nations worldwide against Italy at Twickenham.

Prop Ellis Genge is preferred to Ben Moon, while lock Joe Launchbury replaces Courtney Lawes (calf) and Brad Shields starts at blindside flanker, with Mark Wilson named among the replacements.

Dan Robson continues on the bench where he is joined by Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ben Moon, Dan Cole, Nathan Hughes, Wilson, George Ford and Henry Slade.

Jones has revealed that its origins date back to an autumn worldwide staged at Twickenham in 2016 when England were in the midst of their world record-equalling sequence of 18 successive Test wins.

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Italy have lost their last 20 Six Nations matches and are bottom of the Six Nations table, but they led Ireland at half-time of their most recent match before losing 26-16.

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Italy: 15-Hayward, 14-Padovani, 13-Campagnaro, 12-Morisi, 11-Esposito, 10-Allan, 9-Tebaldi; 1-Lovotti, 2-Bigi, 3-Ferrari, 4-Ruzza, 5-Budd, 6-Negri, 7-Steyn, 8-Parisse (capt). Reserves: Leonardo Ghiraldini, Cherif Traore, Tiziano Pasquali, David Sisi, Jake Polledri, Guglielmo Palazzani, Ian McKinley, Tommaso Castello. Might Eddie Jones loosen the style a bit against Italy?

Much more recently, and with rugby arguably having leant more towards power over evasion in the meantime, Te'o and Tuilagi had a few minutes together at the end of another win over Australia last autumn, and Jones said yesterday "it's going to be interesting how it unfolds" in the same way as the Big Bad Wolf might have said it would be interesting to invite Little Red Riding Hood over for afternoon tea.

"Henry Slade, symbol of a slightly less confrontational approach, slides down to the bench".

"England will win - and in any style of their coach's desire - but perhaps it will seem a little unusual if it is Conor O'Shea's Italy that (again) show more invention and imagination than England at the home of the game".

The England head coach said: "Italy is a bit of an unknown quantity but when [head coach] Conor [O'Shea] allows them to play rugby they play well".

"They've put on some pretty good performances in this Six Nations and we know they could chuck anything at us - like they have done previously". They are fitter, physically stay in the contest a lot longer and they are quite unpredictable in the way they attack.

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Italy head coach Conor O'Shea: "This is an Italy team that's preparing to win".

"They wanted to fight with everyone and argue with everyone. I'll take the flak for any results".

"It has become a really physical game and we want less injuries".

"Italy was not added into the Six Nations because it's a nice country and people wanted a weekend away in Rome".

Jonny May appeared to sit out training on Friday but the Leicester wing, who has already scored four tries in the competition, is set to play as England aim to maintain their Six Nations title aspirations.

England have won all 24 previous games against Italy and it is impossible to make a case for the outsiders halting the run this weekend.

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Italy have lost their last 20 Six Nations matches - a Championship record.

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