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TEAM CHANGE – Tuilagi onto the bench, Mako starts in Rome

13 March 2014

  • Manu Tuilagi onto the bench to face Italy
  • Mako Vunipola starts at loose head, replacing Joe Marler in a late change 

Manu Tuilagi has been named among the England replacements for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations match against Italy in the Stadio Olimpico (12.30pm GMT, live on BBC Sport).

There is also one late change to the starting 15, with Mako Vunipola loose-head prop in place of Joe Marler, who has remained in the UK to be with his partner at the birth of their first child.

Vunipola's place on the bench is taken by London Wasps' Matt Mullan, who was already travelling with the squad in reserve.

Manu Tuilagi

Photo: Getty Images

Tuilagi replaces Alex Goode on the bench and should he take the field, this weekend will see 22 year-old Tuilagi's 22nd cap. Despite not representing England since last March, he already has 10 Test tries to his name.

England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster said: “It’s great to have been able to achieve consistency of selection from a very competitive squad this campaign.

“The Wales result was very significant for us but we need to finish the tournament well in Rome. We have had a tight turnaround and the key this week has been to manage the players’ recovery and get them in the best shape for what will be a tough match against Italy.”

England can still take the Championship if they win and France beat Ireland in Paris later on the same day. Alternatively, they would have to overturn the points difference between them and Joe Schmidt's charges, which is currently worth 49.

On the late change to his starting line-up Lancaster outlined the importance of putting family first and his faith in Saracens man Vunipola. He added: "It is important that Joe is with his partner at this exciting time. Family must always come first and everyone in the squad wishes them well.

"We have prepared for being without Joe and we have no doubt Mako will slot straight in and perform, as will Matt Mullan from the bench should he get an opportunity."

England side to face Italy

15 Mike Brown (Harlequins, 25 caps) 
14 Jack Nowell  (Exeter Chiefs, 4 caps) 
13 Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints, 4 caps) 
12 Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby, 12 caps) 
11 Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 5 caps) 
10 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 23 caps) 
Danny Care (Harlequins, 46 caps) 

Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 14 caps)
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 54 caps) 
David Wilson (Bath Rugby, 33 caps) 
Joe Launchbury (London Wasps, 18 caps) 
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 29 caps) 
Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 27 caps) 
Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, captain, 25 caps) 
Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby, 19 caps)

Replacements 

16 Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 16 caps) 
17 Matt Mullan (London Wasps, 2 caps) 
18 Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks, 6 caps) 
19 Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby, 9 caps) 
20 Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs, 6 caps) 
21 Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints, 15 caps) 
22 George Ford (Bath Rugby, 1 cap) 
23 Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 21 caps)

#carrythemhome 

England supporters can use #carrythemhome to tweet their motivational messages to the team, which could then appear on the Twickenham Stadium tunnel wall as the players take to the field. Before the roar of the crowd, the national anthems, or that first blow of the whistle, your words will inspire England. Be the First Contact.