Eddie Jones gives England's No.10 jersey to Ford
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: England have recalled George Ford at flyhalf for Saturday’s Six Nations clash against Italy at Twickenham, with captain Owen Farrell moving to inside centre.
Leicester flyhalf Ford was on the bench for last weekend’s shock home loss to Scotland, with Farrell starting at No.10 instead.
But the Saracens star was widely criticised for his performance as reigning champions England opened their Six Nations title defence with a lacklustre 6-11 Calcutta Cup defeat.
By the time Ford replaced centre Ollie Lawrence, it was too late for England to turn the tide.
Farrell’s performance led some pundits to suggest coach Eddie Jones should drop his skipper, but instead he has reverted to a familiar 10-12 combination by including the 73-times capped Ford in his starting line-up.
Ford’s return was just one of several changes, with veteran Australian coach Jones opting for a brand new front row that sees props Kyle Sinckler and Mako Vunipola return from suspension and injury respectively, with Luke Cowan-Dickie starting at hooker in place of Jamie George.
Your England side to face Italy at Twickenham on Saturday 🌹🏴🇮🇹
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) February 11, 2021
Jones said: “As always, we’ve picked what we think is our strongest 23 to try and win the game.
“We’re pleased to have Mako and Kyle back into the team and we’ve made some changes to our starting XV, but our finishers are just as important to our game plan. We look at the whole 80 minutes.
“We’ve trained very well this week, I’ve been very pleased with the players’ attitudes and work-rate. We’re hoping to put on a good performance on Saturday and kick on with our Six Nations campaign.”
England: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Owen Farrell (captain), 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Ben Earl, 21 Jack Willis, 22 Dan Robson, 23 Max Malins.
Date: Saturday, February 13
Venue: Twickenham Stadium, London
Kick-off: 14.15 (14.15 GMT; 15.15 Italy time)
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Romain Poite (France), Ben Blain (Scotland)
TMO: Joy Neville (Ireland)