England vs Ireland – Maro Itoje to make first start in Six Nations meeting at Twickenham


LONDON (AP) — Maro Itoje will make his first start for England in the Six Nations match against Ireland on Saturday as the team looks for a third straight win under new coach Eddie Jones.

Itoje, a former England under-20 captain and widely regarded as a potential star of the future in English rugby, got his chance after fellow lock Joe Launchbury was ruled out of contention on Wednesday with a hamstring injury.

The only other change from the 40-9 win over Italy in Rome saw Joe Marler return at loosehead prop in place of Mako Vunipola. Elliot Daly could make his England debut off the bench at Twickenham.

The team was announced on Thursday.

England started the Six Nations by beating Scotland away, so is still on for the Grand Slam in the first season under Jones.

Ireland won the last two Six Nations tournaments but is without a win heading into Round 3.

“Playing our first game at Twickenham after two away fixtures will be huge for us,” Jones said. “We’re determined to put in a strong performance against a clever Irish side who are the benchmark of European rugby.”

England: Mike Brown, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Owen Farrell, Jack Nowell, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Billy Vunipola, James Haskell, Chris Robshaw, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley (captain), Joe Marler. Reserves: Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, Paul Hill, Joe Launchbury, Jack Clifford, Danny Care, Elliot Daly, Alex Goode.