Six Nations 2022: England’s Joe Marchant will start at 13 against Italy

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Joe Marchant catches a high ball
Joe Marchant started on the wing in England’s 20-17 loss to Scotland
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome Date: Sunday, 13 February Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Listen live on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

Joe Marchant will start at outside centre for England against Italy on Sunday in one of eight changes to the starting XV beaten by Scotland.

Twice-capped Harry Randall takes over from Ben Youngs at scrum-half, while Jack Nowell replaces Marchant on the wing with Elliot Daly on the bench.

Jamie George replaces Luke Cowan-Dickie at hooker and prop Will Stuart starts.

Alex Dombrandt comes in for Sam Simmonds at number eight while Charlie Ewels is brought in at lock.

In another positional switch, Maro Itoje moves into the back row to cover for the injured Lewis Ludlam at flanker.

Cowan-Dickie finds himself on the bench after his game-changing error against Scotland and aspiring debutant forward Ollie Chessum is also among the replacements.

Flanker Tom Curry will once again captain the side with Owen Farrell and Courtney Lawes injured.

Replacement scrum-half Youngs awaits the opportunity to become the joint most-capped England men’s player of all time alongside Jason Leonard, who has 114 caps.

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England team to face Italy: Steward; Malins, Marchant, Slade, Nowell; Smith, Randall; Genge, George, Stuart, Ewels, Isiekwe, Itoje, Curry (capt), Dombrandt.

Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Marler, Sinckler, Chessum, Simmonds, Youngs, Ford, Daly.

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Marchant in latest centre experiment

Marchant will partner Henry Slade in the midfield in Eddie Jones’ latest experiment as he seeks a solution to Manu Tuilagi’s injury absence.

Tuilagi returned for Sale on Sunday but is not yet ready for Test rugby according to Jones.

After the combination of Slade and Daly failed to make an impact against Scotland, Jones has turned to Marchant.

The Harlequins back has enjoyed success in partnership with Slade before as Marchant played in the centre after Tuilagi went off injured during England’s win against South Africa in November.

England want to ‘light up Rome’

Jones said England had endured a “difficult week” after their 20-17 loss to Scotland.

The head coach added his side want to “light up Rome” when they take on Italy, who have not won in the Six Nations since 2015.

“We’ve made some changes and this is the best side to face Italy,” Jones explained.

“We want to start fast and take the game to them. They can be a dangerous team and have some very good players in the likes of [Paolo] Garbisi, [Sebastian] Negri and [Michele] Lamaro.”

Despite Jones’ admiration, Negri has been pushed to the bench as South African-born flanker Braam Steyn comes into the starting XV.

Wing Tommaso Menoncello – Italy’s only try-scorer in defeat to France – is out of the squad altogether as Frederico Mori starts and Petro Ceccarelli comes into the front row.

The highly rated Garbisi starts at fly-half, partnering Welsh-born Gloucester scrum-half Stephen Varney.

Italy: Padovani; Mori, Brex, Zanon, Ioane; Garbisi, Varney; Fischetti, Lucchesi, Petro Ceccarelli, Cannone, Ruzza, Steyn, Lamaro (capt), Halafihi.

Replacements: Faiva, Traore, Pasquali, Sisi, Negri, Pettinelli, Fusco, Marin.

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