Selecting an England XV to face Italy

Selecting an England XV to face Italy

England will head into their clash with Italy this weekend with the hopes they will claim a bonus point victory in order to keep them in the running for the 2019 Six Nations title.

However, with the World Cup fast approaching, Eddie Jones will have the big picture in mind when he selects his side to face the Italians. 

We have selected an XV that we think that Eddie Jones should select to tackle Conor O'Shea's side.

Front Row: Ben Moon, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Dan Cole

There is space for three hookers to head to the World Cup in Japan later this year and it's quite clear that, barring injury, Dylan Hartley and Jamie George will fill two of those three slots with the third still up for grabs. This clash against Italy is the perfect opportunity for Jones to hand a start to Exeter Chiefs' hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie who has seen little game time in the England jumper. 

Cowan-Dickie's clubmate Ben Moon has impressed in the starting role when Mako Vunipola has been absent and should retain the jersey to gain even more experience starting for the side. Meanwhile, Dan Cole has been in and out of the England squad recently and should be given the opportunity to prove himself. Experience could be key in Japan and Cole boast over 80 test caps and is more than entitled to prove himself. 

Second Row: George Kruis, Joe Launchbury

The second row picks itself following the injuries to Courtney Lawes and Maro Itoje. Kruis has been excellent in the starting line up so far in the Championship while Joe Launchbury has been working his way back to full fitness. Both are likely to be on the plane to Japan and with Lawes and Itoje the other two second rowers who can double up as blindside flankers. 

Back Row: Brad Shields, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola

Only one change to the back row with Mark Wilson earning a well-deserved break after he took his form from the November Internationals into the opening rounds of the competition. Shields looked to be Jones' go-to man for the #6 jersey before his injury which opened the door for Wilson. 

With limited options for the #7 jersey, Tom Curry is likely to continue to establish as the first choice for the jersey while Billy Vunipola could do with some more time in the starting line up. 

Halfbacks: Dan Robson, Owen Farrell

Newly capped halfback Dan Robson should be handed his first start with Jones having just one experienced test halfback in the squad. Robson has been used sparingly off the bench and should be given the opportunity to prove himself. Pairing him with Owen Farrell gives him the perfect flyhalf to make his first start. Unfortunately, for Ford, Dylan Hartley's injury denies him the opportunity to get a start.

Centres: Ben Te'o, Jonathan Joseph

Joseph is yet to get a look in after being included in the squad after 1 game back for Bath after a long injury. Te'o with Farrell at 10 would be a great option for two direct inside backs and both have the ability to set Joseph free.

Outside Backs: Joe Cokansiga, Jonny May and Elliot Daly

This back 3 could cause Italy heaps of issues for Italy with the deadly finishing of the wingers and the linking play along with the big boot of Daly.

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