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Sinckler benched as Jones makes six changes to his England team

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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England boss Eddie Jones has made six changes to his starting team to face Italy this Sunday in the Guinness Six Nations following last weekend’s round one 17-20 loss away to Scotland. With starting blindside Lewis Ludlam having picked up a rib cartilage injury at Murrayfield, Jones wasn’t never in a position to name the exact same XV – but rather than just limit the alterations to one, he has gone for broke by making five other switches. 

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In the backs, Harry Randall will start at scrum-half in place of Ben Youngs with Joe Marchant switching from wing to outside centre in place of Elliot Daly. Jack Nowell will wear the No11 jersey.

In the pack, there are two front row changes. Jamie George and Will Stuart will start instead of Luke Cowan-Dickie and Kyle Sinckler. In the second row, Charlie Ewels comes in with Maro Itoje switching to blindside in the absence of Ludlam. Alex Dombrandt also takes over at No8 for Sam Simmonds, with Tom Curry continuing to skipper from openside. 

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Jamie Blamire, Ollie Chessum, Joe Heyes, Bevan Rodd and Adam Radwan were the five extra players in the 27 – along with the 22 carried over from last weekend’s round one matchday squad – that was named on Wednesday evening, but only the uncapped Chessum has forced his way into the England Six Nations matchday 23. He takes a spot on a bench containing the demoted Cowan-Dickie (who reportedly hasn’t done much training this week), Sinckler, Simmonds, Youngs and Daly.

Courtney Lawes, who skippered England to their November wins over Tonga and South Africa, was ruled out of contention on Wednesday. He had been rated as a less than 50 per cent chance by Jones on Tuesday to finally recover from last month’s concussion issue but he would have needed to train fully on Wednesday to have been considered for selection.     

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Jones had also resisted the temptation to rush Manu Tuilagi back into his Six Nations plans, deciding on Monday over a phone call with the Sale midfielder to leave him with his club and get more game time with them and not England after his 30-minute comeback the previous day at Harlequins which was his first rugby in eleven weeks since injuring a hamstring when scoring against South Africa. 

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Jones said on Friday after naming his team: “We have set ourselves the target of playing really well and lighting up Rome. We have made some changes and this is the best side to face Italy. We want to start fast and take the game to them.

“They can be a dangerous team and have some very good players in the likes of Garbisi, Negri and Lamaro. It’s been a difficult week, but the players have bounced back well, trained hard and are ready to put on a good performance on Sunday.”

ENGLAND (vs Italy, Sunday) 
1. Ellis Genge (VC)
2. Jamie George
3. Will Stuart
4. Charlie Ewels
5. Nick Isiekwe
6. Maro Itoje
7. Tom Curry
8. Alex Dombrandt
9. Harry Randall
10. Marcus Smith
11. Jack Nowell
12. Henry Slade (VC)
13. Joe Marchant
14. Max Malins
15. Freddie Steward

Finishers:
16. Luke Cowan-Dickie (VC)
17. Joe Marler
18. Kyle Sinckler
19. Ollie Chessum
20. Sam Simmonds
21. Ben Youngs
22. George Ford
23. Elliot Daly

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