Harpenden St George's Maro Itoje set for England debut
PUBLISHED: 10:14 12 February 2016 | UPDATED: 10:24 12 February 2016
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Former St George's pupil Maro Itoje has been named in the matchday squad for the first time as England get set to face Italy on Sunday.
Itoje will win his first cap from the bench in Rome, the second round of matches in the Six Nations championship.
The 21-year-old travelled north with the squad last Saturday, as England opened their 2016 campaign with a win over Scotland, but was an unused reserve only.
However new coach Eddie Jones has decided to unleash the Saracens man, tipped by many to be England captain in the very near future, against the Azzurri.
He takes the number of former pupils of the Harpenden school to three, joining fellow alumni Owen Farrell and George Ford, who both retain their starting positions from the Murrayfield success.
Speaking on www.englandrugby.com, Jones said: “Maro has consistently impressed me this week and, together with his excellent club form, has deserved his call up to the match day squad.
“We are confident we can go to Rome and win, but we’re in no doubt of the challenge we face. Italy took France very close last weekend in Paris so they’ll be fired up.”
“It has been an intense week of training and I am pleased with how the group have responded to some of the things we’ve asked them to do.”
The Australian has made three changes to the side that picked up the win against Scotland; Mako Vunipola, Ben Youngs and Courtney Lawes come in for Joe Marler, Danny Care and Joe Launchbury, who all drop to the bench.
He added: “I believe this is the strongest 23 to go to Rome and get the performance and result we want.
“Mako, Ben and Courtney have been pushing hard for selection during training, but they also fit the game plan we want to implement against Italy.
“Danny, Joe Marler and Joe Launchbury will all have significant roles to play to finish the game.”
England squad to play Italy:
1 Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 28 caps)
2 Dylan Hartley (captain, Northampton Saints, 67 caps)
3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 57 caps)
4 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 43 caps)
5 George Kruis (Saracens, 11 caps)
6 Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, 44 caps)
7 James Haskell (Wasps, 63 caps)
8 Billy Vunipola (vice captain, Saracens, 22 caps)
9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 53 caps)
10 George Ford (Bath Rugby, 18 caps)
11 Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 11 caps)
12 Owen Farrell (vice captain, Saracens, 36 caps)
13 Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 17 caps)
14 Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 16 caps)
15 Mike Brown (vice captain, Harlequins, 44 caps)
16 Jamie George (Saracens, 4 caps)
17 Joe Marler (Harlequins, 38 caps)
18 Paul Hill (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
19 Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 29 caps)
20 Maro Itoje (Saracens, uncapped)
21 Jack Clifford (Harlequins, 1 cap)
22 Danny Care (Harlequins, 54 caps)
23 Alex Goode (Saracens, 19 caps)