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Borthwick reveals his playmaker and uncapped players for Italy clash

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: England head coach Steve Borthwick has revealed his team to play Italy in their opening game of the 2024 Six Nations at Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.

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Jamie George will captain a starting XV which includes two uncapped players with Ethan Roots and Fraser Dingwall both earning a starting place in Rome for Round One.

In the front row, Joe Marler is named at loosehead and packs down with skipper George at hooker and Will Stuart at tighthead.

At lock, vice-captain Maro Itoje partners Ollie Chessum. The back row sees debutant Roots on the blindside flank, Sam Underhill at openside and Ben Earl will wear the No.8 shirt.

In the halfback berths, scrumhalf Alex Mitchell is paired with vice-captain George Ford at No.10.

The midfield sees Dingwall named at inside centre to win his maiden England cap, with Henry Slade at No.13.

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In the back three, Elliot Daly starts on the left wing, with Tommy Freeman on the right and Freddie Steward selected at fullback to round off the starting line-up.

Amongst the replacements, loose forward Chandler Cunningham-South, wing Immanuel Feyi-Waboso and flyhalf Fin Smith will all win their first England caps when they join the action.

They take their places alongside Theo Dan, Ellis Genge (vice-captain), Dan Cole, Alex Coles and Danny Care on the bench.

“After an excellent week’s preparation in Girona, we look forward to the challenge of playing Italy in Rome,” said Borthwick.

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“The Azzurri are a dangerous team, with some talented ball carriers and players who like to find space.

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

Commenting on the selection of England’s five uncapped players, Borthwick added: “Winning a first cap for your country is always a very special occasion. We’re 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.”

England: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Tommy Freeman, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Fraser Dingwall, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Ben Earl, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Ethan Roots, 5 Ollie Chessum, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Jamie George (captain), 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Alex Coles, 20 Chandler Cunningham-South, 21 Danny Care, 22 Fin Smith, 23 Immanuel Feyi-Waboso.

Date: Saturday, February 3
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Kick-off: 15.15 (14.15 UK & Ireland time; 14.15 GMT)
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nic Berry (Australia), Nika Amashukeli (Georgia)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)

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