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Exeter lock Hill to make England debut v Italy

Exeter lock Hill to make England debut v Italy

Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - England Training - The Lensbury Hotel, Teddington, Britain - October 28, 2020 England's Jonny Hill during training Alex Davidson/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON: Exeter's Jonny Hill will make his England debut against Italy on Saturday after coach Eddie Jones named him as lock partner to Maro Itoje for the game in Rome where the Six Nations title is at stake.

Scrumhalf Ben Youngs will win his 100th cap, inside captain and flyhalf Owen Farrell. In the absence of the injured Manu Tuilagi, Jones has opted for the creative centre pairing of Henry Slade and Jonathan Joseph, with George Furbank at fullback in place of injured Elliot Daly.

After much speculation about his backrow options, Jones has returned to the trio who performed so well in the World Cup, with Sam Underhill and Tom Curry flanking Billy Vunipola, making his first appearance since the final defeat by South Africa a year ago this week. Hooker Jamie George will win his 50th cap.

There are three uncapped players on the bench - hooker Tom Dunn, centre Ollie Lawrence and winger Ollie Thorley, while Dan Robson is the backup scrumhalf.

England will hope to beat Italy with a bonus point and then rack up enough points to take the title on points difference, assuming Ireland do not buck the odds by beating France in Paris with a bonus point in the final game of the championship on Saturday.

Ireland have 14 points to the 13 of England and France. If Ireland win with a bonus point they will be crowned champions, but that is an unlikely outcome.

Ireland's points difference is +38, with England on +15 and France on +13. To finish top England would need to secure their bonus point, make up the 23-point deficit on Ireland, and then better any further points difference advantage Ireland might make up with a non-bonus point win.

The France v Ireland game looks set to go ahead despite the country going into lockdown. However, the home side's only hope of the title is to beat Ireland by a better margin than England manage against Italy - or hope England lose to Italy for the first time.

England team to face Italy in Rome on Saturday (1645GMT)

15. George Furbank (Northampton Saints, 2 caps)

14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 43 caps)

13. Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 50 caps)

12. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 29 caps)

11. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 56 caps)

10. Owen Farrell (Saracens, 83 caps)

9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 99 caps)

1. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 59 caps)

2. Jamie George (Saracens, 49 caps)

3. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 35 caps)

4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 38 caps)

5. Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, uncapped)

6. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 23 caps)

7. Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 18 caps)

8. Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 51 caps) 

Replacements

16. Tom Dunn, (Bath Rugby, uncapped)

17. Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 18 caps)

18. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 3 caps)

19. Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 15 caps)

20. Ben Earl (Bristol Bears, 3 caps)

21. Dan Robson (Wasps, 2 caps)

22. Ollie Lawrence (Worcester Warriors, uncapped)

23. Ollie Thorley (Gloucester Rugby, uncapped)

(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Christian Radnedge)

Source: Reuters

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