Six Nations

Hepburn set for England debut against Italy

2018-02-01 13:59
eddie jones, england, rugby
Eddie Jones (Getty Images)

London - Alec Hepburn is in line to make his England debut when the Six Nations champions begin their title defence against Italy in Rome on Sunday. 

The Exeter prop was included in a 25-man squad announced by coach Eddie Jones on Wednesday and appears to destined to provide loosehead cover off the bench for Mako Vunipola. 

With the front row one of the most gruelling areas on the field, many props don't last a full 80 minutes and that means Hepburn may well feature at some stage during a Stadio Olimpico clash where the Azzurri will be searching for their first Test win against England. 

Hepburn is effectively England's sixth-choice loosehead prop but the suspension of Joe Marler as well as injuries to Ellis Genge, Matt Mullan and Beno Obano have given the 25-year-old an unexpected chance with England. 

But the experienced trio of fullback Mike Brown, flank Chris Robshaw and powerhouse forward Maro Itoje have all overcome their respective injury problems. 

Australian coach Jones, who has won 22 of his 23 Tests in charge of England, is due to name his starting XV on Friday before the squad fly out to Rome later that day.

England 25-man squad to play Italy:

Backs

Back three: Mike Brown (Harlequins), Nathan Earle (Saracens), Jonny May (Leicester), Anthony Watson (Bath)

Inside backs: Danny Care (Harlequins), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Leicester), Jonathan Joseph (Bath), Jack Nowell (Exeter), Ben Te'o (Worcester), Ben Youngs (Leicester)

Forwards

Back five: George Graham (Newcastle), Maro Itoje (Saracens), George Kruis (Saracens), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Sam Simmonds (Exeter), Sam Underhill (Bath)

Front row: Dan Cole (Leicester), Jamie George (Saracens), Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Alec Hepburn (Exeter), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Harry Williams (Exeter)

Read more on:    england  |  six nations  |  alec hepburn  |  eddie jones  |  rugby
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Saturday, 10 March 2018
Ireland v Scotland, Aviva Stadium 16:15
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