Itoje handed a starting role at six as England prepare for Six Nations start against France
PUBLISHED: 10:17 02 February 2017 | UPDATED: 10:18 02 February 2017
Former Harpenden St George’s pupil Maro Itoje is back in the England fold for the Six Nations and, to the delight of some, will start in the blind-side flanker role against France at Twickeham.
Coach Eddie Jones has made five changes from the side that defeated Australia in December to complete an unbeaten 2016.
Itoje is one of those changes having missed the Autumn internationals with injury.
He has been played at second-row for the majority of his fledgling international career but an injury to Chris Robshaw has handed him the chance to stake a permanent claim for the number six jersey, that some say is his natural position.
He is joined in the forwards by loose-head prop Joe Marler and Joe Launchbury at second row.
In the backs, Elliot Daly and Jonny May start on the wings.
Fellow Harpenden St George’s alumni, George Ford and Owen Farrell, as expected keep hold of their starting places.
On the bench there are returns for loose-head prop Matt Mullan, flanker James Haskell and wing Jack Nowell.
Jones said: “We’ve been able to select a very strong and experienced team to play against France and we are excited to get the tournament underway.
“There’s a great rivalry between the countries so we’re looking forward to a great occasion playing against one of England’s oldest foes.
“We want to get better all of the time, we are ambitious and we want to be the number one team in the world.
“It’s exciting to be back at Twickenham. We’ve got great supporters and we’re looking forward to hearing them turn the volume up on Saturday.”
England match-day 23 for the RBS 6 Nations game against France
15. Mike Brown (vice captain, Harlequins, 55 caps)
14. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 22 caps)
13. Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 29 caps)
12. Owen Farrell (vice captain, Saracens, 47 caps)
11. Elliot Daly (Wasps, 8 caps)
10. George Ford (Bath Rugby, 30 caps)
9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 65 caps)
1. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 46 caps)
2. Dylan Hartley (captain, Northampton Saints, 79 caps)
3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 69 caps)
4. Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 37 caps)
5. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 53 caps)
6. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 7 caps)
7. Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 45 caps)
8. Nathan Hughes (Wasps, 3 caps)
16. Jamie George (Saracens, 12 caps)
17. Matt Mullan (Wasps, 13 caps)
18. Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 4 caps)
19. Teimana Harrison (Northampton Saints, 5 caps)
20. James Haskell (Wasps, 70 caps)
21. Danny Care (Harlequins, 66 caps)
22. Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors, 3 caps)
23. Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 18 caps)