Mako called in for Italian job

Fri, 08 Mar 2013 11:14
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Mako Vunipola will make his first start for England in Sunday's Six Nations match against Italy at Twickenham Stadium.

Mako Vunipola will make his first start for England in Sunday's Six Nations match against Italy at Twickenham Stadium.

The Saracens prop, who has won seven caps off the bench, replaces Joe Marler (Harlequins) in one of five changes from the side that started against France.

Danny Care (Harlequins) and Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers) take over at halfback from Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers) and Owen Farrell (Saracens) respectively; Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers) comes in for Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints); and James Haskell (London Wasps) is named at blindside flanker in place of Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints).

Tom Croft of Leicester Tigers is back in the England matchday squad for the first time in 12 months following his recovery from a neck injury, while Freddie Burns (Gloucester) joins him among the replacements as Farrell needs more time to return to full fitness.

England coach Stuart Lancaster said: "We were very happy with the way we finished the France game.

"The impact the replacements made shows that we have competition for places across the board and we have had to make some tight calls.

"Italy will be highly motivated for this game and we will have to perform for the full 80 minutes. I am sure those starting will seize their chance and the bench will also have a significant part to play as the game goes on.  

"The support at Twickenham for the Scotland and France games was superb and I am sure the atmosphere will be fantastic again for our final home match of the Championship."

England: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Mike Brown, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Danny Care, 8 Tom Wood, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 James Haskell, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 David Wilson, 18 Joe Marler, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 Tom Croft, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Billy Twelvetrees.

Date: Sunday, March 10
Venue: Twickenham Stadium, London
Kick-off: 15.00 (15.00 GMT)
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Mathieu Raynal (France)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

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