Six Nations

England recall Te'o to play alongside Tuilagi against Italy

2019-03-07 15:30
 Eddie Jones
Eddie Jones (Getty)

Bagshot - England coach Eddie Jones hopes a powerful centre pairing of Ben Te'o and Manu Tuilagi will make their presence felt during Saturday's Six Nations international against Italy at Twickenham.

It will be the first time the duo, who both have Pacific Islands heritage, have started a Test together, although they were briefly in action as a duo for a few minutes at the conclusion of England's 37-18 win at home to Australia in November.

"We saw them at the end of the game against Australia. It's always something we wanted to look at in order to develop another option," Jones told reporters at England's training base in Bagshot, southwest of London, after announcing his team on Thursday.

Henry Slade has been dropped to the bench to allow Te'o's inclusion at inside centre and Tuilagi's move to outside centre in one of several changes to the team beaten 21-13 by Wales last time out.

"We've been really happy with Henry Slade, but this just gives us another way of playing so we're looking forward to it," Jones added.

England captain Owen Farrell insisted there was more to the new centre partnership's game than physical strength.

"We got a bit of a taste of it against Australia. They're two lads who can do a lot of damage, but who also have some subtleties to their game as well," Farrell said.

Nevertheless, Jones's desire to have a dynamic and imposing backline was emphasised by the recall of powerhouse right wing Joe Cokanasiga was recalled on after Jack Nowell failed to recover from a shoulder injury.

Cokanasiga made his Six Nations debut when he came off the bench against Wales.

His 18-stone presence adds to the strength of midfielders Te'o and Tuilagi, who weigh in at a combined 34 stone.

"It shows the difference in the team. I remember playing Australia three years ago and we were 8kgs per player lighter," former Wallaby and Japan boss Jones explained.

"We're able now to pick a big backline which can play a little bit differently. That gives us another option."

Jones has made a total of five personnel changes to the team beaten in Cardiff, with Joe Launchbury replacing Courtney Lawes (calf strain) at lock after Maro Itoje failed to recover in time from a knee injury.

Elsewhere in the pack, Brad Shiels starts at blindside flanker instead of Mark Wilson, with Ellis Genge displacing Ben Moon at loosehead prop.

Genge and fellow prop Kyle Sinckler were uncapped when Jones selected them for England's 2016 tour of Australia.

But even as international novices, the pair made their mark, as Jones recalled.

"I can remember having a session somewhere on the Gold Coast for the Australia tour and we took these two young props," he said.

"They wanted to fight with everyone and argue with everyone. For the whole session we just tried to keep those two calm.

"They're still learning their trade. We've got to understand that. Those guys are being asked to do the same things that back-rows did 10 years ago -- plus with guys treading on their toes and pulling their hair and all those sorts of things.

"They'll learn with each game and that's what we're seeing."

Defeat by Wales ended England's hopes of a Grand Slam this season.

England, however, have never been defeated by Italy, with the Azzurri having lost their last 20 Six Nations matches.

Conor O'Shea, the Italy coach, is due to name his side later Thursday.

"Italy are a bit of an unknown quantity but when Conor allows them to play rugby they play well," insisted Jones.

"We expect Italy to throw the ball around a bit so we are going to have to defend very well against their unpredictability and when we have got the ball, we have to use it wisely."

Teams

England

15 Elliot Daly, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Ben Te'o, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell (captain), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Brad Shields, 5 George Kruis, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Ellis Genge

Substitutes: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Nathan Hughes, 20 Mark Wilson, 21 Dan Robson, 22 George Ford, 23 Henry Slade

Italy

15 Jayden Hayward; 14 Edoardo Padovani, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Michele Campagnaro, 11 Angelo Esposito; 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Sergio Parisse (captain), 7 Braam Steyn, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Dean Budd, 4 Federico Ruzza, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Andrea Lovotti

Substitutes: Leonardo Ghiraldini, Cherif Traore, Tiziano Pasquali, David Sisi, Jake Polledri, Guglielmo Palazzani, Ian McKinley, Tommaso Castello

Read more on:    england  |  italy  |  six nations  |  rugby

 

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