Jones wants Te'o to lead "ruthless" England effort

International
AFP
by AFP

England coach Eddie Jones wants Ben Te'o to lead a "brutal and absolutely ruthless" effort when his side launch their Six Nations title defence against Italy in Rome on Sunday.

England may have won all 23 of their previous Tests against Italy but Jones has urged them to leave nothing to chance.

Te'o will be making his first England appearance in nearly a year after being selected at outside centre.

British and Irish Lions midfielder Te'o, a powerful ball-carrier, has displaced Jonathan Joseph, more of a traditional 'running' centre, after recovering from a severe ankle injury that ruled him out of England's November series.

The match will be the first time Te'o has played since October, with the New Zealand-born rugby league convert partnering Owen Farrell in midfield.Ben Te'o will lead the England charge against Italy. Photo: Getty Images"Ben will add a different dimension at 13 for us," Jones told reporters after announcing his side on Friday.

"We want him to hit the line hard, that's what he's good at. For a big man he's got footwork. So hit the line hard."

The former Australian and Japan coach, bidding for a 23rd win in 24 Tests as England boss, added: "That's how we want to play against Italy - a really physical game and set the tone for the tournament.

"We want to be brutal and absolutely ruthless."

Italy frustrated England with their 'no-ruck' ploy at Twickenham last year and Jones is backing Te'o to make a better job of dealing with any more tactical trickery from Azzurri coach Conor O'Shea.

"We played him against Italy last year and the fox got him. The fox got him big time. So he wants to go fox-hunting this week," said Jones.Eddie Jones is searching for another Six Nations title. Photo: Getty ImagesDylan Hartley remains as England captain, with the hooker winning his 90th cap.

Despite injuries that have cost them several first-choice players, England will be huge favourites to start their bid for an unprecedented third successive outright Championship title with a victory.

Sam Simmonds, an impressive ball-carrier with Premiership champions Exeter starts at No.8 after injuries ruled out both Billy Vunipola and Nathan Hughes.

Courtney Lawes - best known as a lock - is at blindside flanker, with former England captain Chris Robshaw on the openside.

Maro Itoje starts in the second row alongside Joe Launchbury.

"The Six Nations is physical, a massive physical contest," explained Jones.Can Jones take England back to back? Photo: Getty Images"It is a massive set-piece contest. You've got to have that combative mindset.

And that all starts on Sunday.

"Italy play off mistakes, they hustle and bustles, create opportunities so we want to set the tone early."

Italy face the perennial problem of trying to make sure they are not beaten before they go out on the pitch, although an England side featuring several untested combinations could give them fresh hope that an upset is possible this time.

By selecting a team featuring seven Six Nations debutants, Italy coach O'Shea has a group ofr players who have not been worn down by repeated failure.

New Zealand-born lock Dean Budd is in a pack featuring flankers Sebastian Negri, born in Zimbabwe, and Renato Giammarioli as well as prop Simone Ferrari.

Full-back Matteo Minozzi and centre pairing Tommaso Boni and Tommaso Castello also have no Six Nations experience.

As if that were not enough upheaval, former Ireland fullback O'Shea has also selected a new half-back pairing of Marcello Violi and Tommaso Allan, with the experienced Edoardo Gori and Carlo Canna relegated to the bench.

But whether the newcomers add fresh self-belief remains to be seen.

TEAMS

England team to face Italy

1. Mako Vunipola

2. Dylan Hartley

3. Dan Cole

4. Joe Launchbury

5. Maro Itoje

6. Courtney Lawes

7. Chris Robshaw

8. Sam Simmonds

9. Ben Youngs

10. George Ford

11. Jonny May

12. Owen Farrell

13. Ben Te'o

14. Anthony Watson

15. Mike Brown

Reserves

16. Jamie George

17. Alec Hepburn

18. Harry Williams

19. George Kruis

20. Sam Underhill

21. Danny Care

22. Jonathan Joseph

23. Jack Nowell

Italy team to face England

1. Andrea Lovotti

2. Leonardo Ghiraldini

3. Simone Ferrari

4. Alessandro Zanni

5. Dean Budd

6. Sebastian Negri

7. Renato Giammarioli

8. Sergio Parisse (C)

9. Marcelo Violi

10. Tommaso Allan

11. Mattia Bellini

12. Tommaso Castello

13. Tommaso Boni

14. Tommaso Benvenuti

15. Matteo Minozzi

Reserves

16. Luca Bigi

17. Nicola Quaglio

18. Tiziano Pasquali

19. George Biagi

20. Maxime Mbanda

21. Edorado Gori

22. Carlo Canna

23. Jayden Hayward