Itoje to make first England start versus Ireland


Maro Itoje will make his first start for England in Saturday's Six Nations contest with Ireland in one of two changes to Eddie Jones' XV.

Powerhouse Saracens lock Itoje made his debut off the bench in England's 40-9 battering of Italy in Rome on matchday two.

Itoje impressed in his cameo and many have been calling for the 21-year-old to be given his chance from the start.

And with Joe Launchbury (hamstring) injured, Jones has opted to hand Itoje his opportunity, with Courtney Lawes among the substitutes.

"Joe Launchbury is unlucky to miss out through injury. Maro Itoje is selected as result and we're pleased for him," Jones told the Rugby Football Union's official website.

England's other change is in the front row with Joe Marler, another to impress as a replacement versus Italy, preferred to Mako Vunipola at loosehead prop.

"Joe Marler made a big impact off the bench in Rome and will start the game with Mako Vunipola finishing the match," Jones added.

"There were some tight calls on selection. We're determined to put in a strong performance against a clever Irish side who are the benchmark of European rugby."

Wasps centre Elliot Daly has been pushing for inclusion with his performances at club level and he is set to make his England bow from the bench.

"Elliot Daly has worked hard this week and is now ready for a place in the 23. He can provide cover in several positions in the back line," Jones continued.

The match against Ireland represents Jones' first at Twickenham, with England's opening Six Nations matches versus Scotland and Italy both played away from home.

England team to face Italy: Mike Brown, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Owen Farrell, Jack Nowell, George Ford, Ben Youngs, Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Chris Robshaw, James Haskell, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, Paul Hill, Courtney Lawes, Jack Clifford, Danny Care, Elliot Daly, Alex Goode.