Ahead of their opening Six Nations rugby match against Italy in Rome, centre Ben Te’o will play his first England Test for almost a year.
Centre Ben Te’o will play his first England Test for almost a year after overcoming injury to be included in the team to face Italy in Rome in their opening Six Nations rugby match.
After featuring for the British and Irish Lions last year in New Zealand, the hard-running Te’o played only a handful of games for his club Worcester before suffering a bad ankle injury in October that required the insertion of a plate.
After extensive rehabilitation, the former NRL player has done enough in the England camp to impress coach Eddie Jones, and will partner Owen Farrell on Sunday, winning his ninth England cap but making only his second start.
In the absence of injured duo Billy Vunipola and Nathan Hughes, Sam Simmonds wins a fourth cap at No.8, with Chris Robshaw and Courtney Lawes either side of him in the back row.
Mike Brown retains the fullback jersey, with Anthony Watson and Jonny May on the wings.
Uncapped prop Alec Hepburn has been named among the replacements, as is winger Jack Nowell, who has recovered quicker than expected from an ankle injury, and usual first-choice centre Jonathan Joseph.
England have won all 23 meetings with Italy, averaging 40 points a game, although they had a scare at Twickenham last year when they struggled to deal with the Italians’ surprise “no ruck” tactics before coming from behind at halftime to emerge 36-15 winners.
England, who have lost only one of 23 games under Eddie Jones, are seeking to become the first team to win the Five/Six Nations championship three years in a row.
15 Mike Brown; 14 Anthony Watson; 13 Ben Te’o; 12 Owen Farrell; 11 Jonny May; 10 George Ford; 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Mako Vunipola; 2 Dylan Hartley (capt); 3 Dan Cole; 4 Joe Launchbury; 5 Maro Itoje; 6 Courtney Lawes; 7 Chris Robshaw; 8 Sam Simmonds.
Res: 16 Jamie George; 17 Alec Hepburn; 18 Harry Williams; 19 George Kruis; 20 Sam Underhill; 21 Danny Care; 22 Jonathan Joseph; 23 Jack Nowell.