England head coach Eddie Jones promised changes for the Six Nations clash with Italy next weekend, and it appears as though he may be making good on that promise.
The side trained on Friday morning ahead of the match at Twickenham next Sunday, with Jones making one or two personnel changes in anticipation of a rotated team to face Conor O’Shea’s side.
In particular, the backs are likely to be markedly different either through being moved around or replaced, with ESPN reporting that Ben Te’o and Elliot Daly were partnered together in the centre, with Owen Farrell taking George Ford’s place at fly-half and Jonny May coming on the wing (presumably for Jack Nowell on the right).
James Haskell seems almost certain to come back in for Jack Clifford against the Azzurri, with the Wasps flanker recovering well from injury and playing for over half an hour in the win against Wales last weekend.
Outside of these potential changes, speculation continues to rage about captain Dylan Hartley’s place in the side. The hooker returned from a six-week ban to face France on the opening weekend, but his form has been noticeably poor and he lasted just 45 minutes in Cardiff on Saturday. Reports earlier this week had suggested that Jamie George would come in for Hartley for the next match but it remains to be seen if this will be the case.
Mako Vunipola and Anthony Watson could also return to the starting lineup if Jones feels that they are ready for competitive international action. Vunipola will play for Saracens against Gloucester in the Premiership on Friday as he steps up his recovery from a knee injury, and assuming there are no problems the prop should link up with the international squad next week.
Watson, meanwhile, has been included in England’s training squad having missed the first two matches with a hamstring injury.