Eddie Jones has turned out a strong pack with some variation in the backs. We finally get to see Ruaridh McConnochie after he has survived what has proven for him to be the difficult period between being named in the team and actually starting the game. It is interesting to see Joe Marchant and Matt Kvesic in the squad, given neither of them made the final RWC 31. Some clue about who is first of the rank for injuries, perhaps? With Eddie, who knows.
Italy are throwing what they can at the wall and hoping some of it sticks, with some new faces in amongst the more established names of Hayward, Benvenuti, Padovani, Steyn and Budd. Carlo Canna gets a run at ten, a man who looked for a period to be the solution to Italy’s “will this do” selection policy at stand-off. After early promise it was not to be, but perhaps he can show a bit of that early period stuff here.
England: Watson; McConnochie, Marchant, Francis, May; Farrell (c), Youngs; Marler, George, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Curry, Wilson, B Vunipola.
Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Genge, Sinckler, Ewels, Kvesic, Heinz, Ford, Cokanasiga.
Italy: Hayward; Bellini, Bisegni, Benvenuti, Padovani; Canna, Braley; Quaglio, Fabiani, Ferrari; Sisi, Budd; Negri, Steyn, Tuivaiti.
Replacements: Zani, Lovotti, Riccioni, Ruzza, Zanni, Mbanda, Palazzani, Allan.