Sports

Six Nations 2021: England recall George Ford, Courtney Lawes, Kyle Sinckler & Mako Vunipola

Fly-half George Ford started England’s loss to Scotland on the bench
Venue: Twickenham Stadium Date: Saturday, 13 February Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Coverage: Listen to commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra; live text commentary and post-match video highlights on the BBC Sport website and app.

George Ford, Courtney Lawes, Kyle Sinckler and Mako Vunipola all return to England’s starting XV for the Six Nations match against Italy.

Captain Owen Farrell switches to inside centre to make way for Ford, with Ollie Lawrence dropped from the matchday 23.

There is also a start for Luke Cowan-Dickie at hooker on Saturday (14:15 GMT), with Jamie George on the bench.

“As always, we’ve picked what we think is our strongest 23 to try to win the game,” said head coach Eddie Jones.

Lawrence endured a frustrating match as England were humbled by Scotland last weekend, only touching the ball once before being replaced.

And Jones has now resorted to the tried-and-tested combination of Ford and Farrell, with Henry Slade making up a skilful but lighter midfield.

The rest of the backline is unchanged, with scrum-half Ben Youngs and the back three of Jonny May, Anthony Watson and Elliot Daly all retaining their places.

In the forwards, it is an all-new front row with Vunipola back from injury and Sinckler from suspension, as well as Cowan-Dickie replacing George.

Maro Itoje and Jonny Hill continue their partnership in the second row and while Tom Curry and Billy Vunipola retain their places in the back row, Mark Wilson is replaced by Lawes at blind-side flanker.

Jones, whose side were favourites to win the Six Nations before last weekend’s defeat, has opted for six forwards on the bench, with Charlie Ewels and Jack Willis poised for their first appearances of this year’s tournament.

Dan Robson and Max Malins are the two backline replacements, meaning 23-year-old Bristol scrum-half Harry Randall – who had been suggested as a player capable of sparking England’s back play – will have to wait to win a first cap.

Italy head coach Franco Smith has injected more experience into his side for Saturday’s game, bringing in centre Carlo Canna and prop Andrea Lovotti for the trip to Twickenham.

Canna – the most capped player in the starting XV on 48 – replaces the injured Marco Zanon and pushes last weekend’s debutant Juan Ignacio Brex to outside centre.

Smith does however continue with the youthful half-back pairing of fly-half Paolo Garbisi, 20, and Welsh-born scrum-half Stephen Varney, 19, as Italy look to improve on their opening 50-10 defeat against France.

Line-ups

England: Daly; Watson, Slade, Farrell (capt), May; Ford, Youngs; M Vunipola, Cowan-Dickie, Sinckler, Itoje, Hill, Lawes, Curry, B Vunipola.

Replacements: George, Genge, Stuart, Ewels, Earl, Willis, Robson, Malins.

Italy: Trulla; Sperandio, Brex, Canna, Ioane; Garbisi, Varney; Lovotti, Bigi (capt), Riccioni, Lazzaroni, Sisi, Negri, Meyer, Lamaro.

Replacements: Lucchesi, Fischetti, Zilocchi, Cannone, Ruzza, Palazzani, Allan, Mori.

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