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McConnochie set for debut as Farrell leads England against Italy

McConnochie set for debut as Farrell leads England against Italy
  • Ruaridh McConnochie will start on the wing for England
  • Clash in Newcastle will be final World Cup warm-up game
  • England beat the Azzurri 57-14 in the Guinness Six Nations

Ruaridh McConnochie is set to make his debut for England against Italy on Friday after Eddie Jones named a mixed team for the encounter in Newcastle.

Owen Farrell will captain the side from fly-half, partnering Ben Youngs, with the back three made up for McConnochie, Jonny May and Anthony Watson.

Piers Francis starts alongside Joe Marchant in the midfield, the latter featuring despite being a reserve for England’s World Cup squad.

Up front, Jones has gone with an experienced front row in the shape of Joe Marler, Jamie George and Dan Cole with Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes in the second row.

The back row sees Mark Wilson given a first start of the warm-up matches, at openside flanker, with Tom Curry on the opposite flank and Billy Vunipola starting again at No.8.

And after a week training in Treviso, Jones is excited to test his charges against the Azzurri.

He said: “We are delighted to be playing against Italy, one of our traditional Six Nations rivals and the game for us is another important step to develop our game fitness and game strategy. We have gone with a mix and match selection policy to develop our adaptability and the team’s ability to cope with any situation.

“We have had a solid training week in Treviso with hot conditions so we are looking forward to testing ourselves against Italy on Friday night. Then we hop on the plane and are ready to go to Japan.

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“We are excited to be playing in Newcastle. We are playing at an iconic football ground and we know the area is an important one for rugby in the northern part of England. We are looking forward to seeing and playing in front of the fans.”

England starting XV v Italy

15. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby)
14. Ruaridh McConnochie (Bath Rugby)
13. Joe Marchant (Harlequins)
12. Piers Francis (Northampton Saints)
11. Jonny May (Leicester Tigers)
10. Owen Farrell (Saracens) (c)
9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

1. Joe Marler (Harlequins)
2. Jamie George (Saracens)
3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
4. Joe Launchbury (Wasps)
5. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
6. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks)
7. Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons/Sale Sharks)
8. Billy Vunipola (Saracens)

Replacements
16. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs)
17. Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers)
18. Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins)
19.Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby)
20. Matt Kvesic (Exeter Chiefs)
21. Willi Heinz (Gloucester Rugby)
22. George Ford (Leicester Tigers)
23. Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby)