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England name two new caps to start, include three more on the bench

By Liam Heagney
England's Danny Care, Joe Marler and Dan Cole at the Rugby World Cup (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Steve Borthwick has named an England team to take on Italy this Saturday in the Guinness Six Nations that has eight changes – including two new caps – from the XV agonisingly beaten by South Africa at the Rugby World Cup.


The English, who eventually finished third at the finals with a win over Argentina, lost out 15-16 in their Paris semi-final and 15 weeks on from that disappointment versus the Springboks, a much-changed starting team has been confirmed for Rome.

Rookies Fraser Dingwall and Ethan Roots have been chosen to respectively start at inside centre and blindside, and there are three more newcomers in line for debut caps off the bench as back-rower Chandler Cunningham-South, out-half Fin Smith and winger Immanuel Feyi-Waboso have all been included.

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Stuart Lancaster discusses Owen Farrell’s move to Racing 92

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Stuart Lancaster discusses Owen Farrell’s move to Racing 92

There are also backline recalls for Tommy Freeman and Henry Slade, two players who failed to make the cut for the World Cup squad.

Full-back Freddie Steward, left winger Elliot Daly and scrum-half Alex Mitchell, who has shaken off an infected leg wound, are the three repeat starters from the Stade de France semi-final, with George Ford promoted from the bench to start at out-half in place of Owen Farrell, who is on a Test sabbatical ahead of his switch next season from Saracens to Racing 92.


In the pack, Will Stuart is named as the starting tighthead ahead of the benched Dan Cole, lining out in the front row alongside Joe Marler and new skipper Jamie George.

The second row partnership will be Maro Itoje and Ollie Chessum, while the debut-making Roots is part of a back row completed by Sam Underhill – man of the match in the bronze medal final versus Argentina – and Ben Earl.


England have gone for a five/three forwards/backs split on their bench. Theo Dan, Ellis Genge and Cole are the front row cover, with Alex Coles and Cunningham-South the other pack options. Veteran Danny Care, Smith and Feyi-Waboso are the backline reserves.

The message from Borthwick to his five newcomers in the England match day 23 was: “Winning a first cap for your country is always a very special occasion. We are delighted for the debutants who have all worked incredibly hard to get themselves selected in the 23 to face Italy.

“I know Saturday will be a very proud moment for the players and their families. My message to them this week has been to be themselves, to grasp their opportunity, and to play with the strengths and skills that deservedly got them selected to a strong Six Nations squad.

“After an excellent week’s preparation in Girona, we look forward to the challenge of playing Italy in Rome. The Azzurri are a dangerous team, with some talented ball carriers and players who like to find space.


“We will need to make good decisions, keep our discipline, and maintain a level of intensity to our performance from the first whistle to the last.”

England (vs Italy, Saturday)
15. Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 31 caps)
14. Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints, 3 caps)
13. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 57 caps)
12. Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
11. Elliot Daly (Saracens, 64 caps)
10. George Ford (Sale Sharks, 91 caps) – vice-captain
9. Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints, 11 caps)
1. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 88 caps)
2. Jamie George (Saracens, 85 caps) – captain
3. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 33 caps)
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 76 caps) – vice-captain
5. Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers, 18 caps)
6. Ethan Roots (Exeter Chiefs, uncapped)
7. Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 30 caps)
8. Ben Earl (Saracens, 25 caps)

Team Form

Last 5 Games

Tries Scored
Points Difference
First Try
First Points
Race To 10 Points

16. Theo Dan (Saracens, 7 caps)
17. Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears, 58 caps) – vice-captain
18. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 107 caps)
19. Alex Coles (Northampton Saints, 3 caps)
20. Chandler Cunningham-South (Harlequins, uncapped)
21. Danny Care (Harlequins, 96 caps)
22. Fin Smith (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
23. Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (Exeter Chiefs, uncapped)


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Anthony 163 days ago

Well well. . Despite the rhetoric of new style guess who is the new orchestrator of the new attacking play .
Pity the poor wingers again .
Another lost chance to play one of the new kids on the block to see if they can go forward rather than just up and unders or crab across the field and cramp everyone space .
Lets hope it all works .

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