02222018

Six Nations: Italy v England (Sunday)

Ben Te'o scores a try for England

Ben Te’o will make his first start for England since scoring against Italy 11 months ago

Team news & line-ups

Italy full-back Matteo Minozzi and back row pair Sebastian Negri and Renato Giammarioli will all make their Six Nations debuts on Sunday.

Lock Alessandro Zanni returns after 23 months to earn his 100th cap.

Ben Te’o will make his first England appearance in almost a year after being picked at outside centre.

Ben Youngs is preferred to Danny Care at scrum-half, while Sam Simmonds is at number eight and uncapped prop Alec Hepburn is among the replacements.

Italy: Minozzi; Benvenuti, Boni, Castello, Bellini; Allan, Violi; Lovotti, Ghiraldini, Ferrari, Zanni, Budd, Negri, Giammarioli, Parisse

Replacements: Bigi, Quaglio, Pasquali, Biagi, Mbanda, Gori, Canna, Hayward

England: Brown; Watson, Te’o, Farrell, May; Ford, B Youngs; M Vunipola, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Itoje, Lawes, Robshaw, Simmonds

Replacements: George, Hepburn, Williams, Kruis, Underhill, Care, Joseph, Nowell

View from both camps

Italy head coach Conor O’Shea: “We think we’re in a miles better place than we were 12 months ago. I think we have a better foundation than people understand in our game.

“We will go for it and we won’t die wondering as opposed to being secure. I’m energised because I know we’re making progress.”

England head coach Eddie Jones on selecting Ben Te’o at outside centre: “Ben will add a different dimension at 13 for us. We want him to hit the line hard, that’s what he’s good at. For a big man he’s got footwork – so hit the line hard.

“And that’s how we want to play against Italy – a really physical game and set the tone for the tournament. We want to be brutal and absolutely ruthless.”

Match facts

Head-to-head

  • England have won all 23 Tests against Italy, only failing to score a try in one of those matches – at Twickenham in 2013 (W 18-11).
  • England have won the 18 Six Nations meetings by an average margin of 28 points.

Italy

  • They have lost 11 of their last 12 Tests. The exception was November’s 19-10 victory over Fiji in Catania.
  • The Azzurri are enduring a 12-match losing streak in Rome since beating Ireland in March 2013.
  • Italy have been whitewashed in seven of their 18 Six Nations campaigns, including each of the last two.

England

  • England have earned 23 wins from their last 24 games, all but one of them since Eddie Jones became head coach. They are on a run of five straight victories since losing 13-9 in Ireland last March.
  • Their only two defeats in the last 19 Six Nations fixtures both came against Ireland in Dublin.
  • England have only lost three of 18 opening day fixtures in the Six Nations, against France in 2014 and Wales in 2005 and 2008.

Match officials

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)

Touch judges: Jerome Garces (France) & Nic Berry (Australia)

TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

What Next?

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