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Te'o back for England against Italy in opener

Sunday, February 04, 2018

LONDON - Centre Ben Te'o will play his first England Test for almost a year and his first rugby of any sort for more than three months after overcoming an ankle injury to be included in the team named by Eddie Jones to face Italy in Rome tomorrow.

After featuring for the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand last summer, the hard-running Te'o played only a handful of games for his club Worcester before suffering the injury in October that required the insertion of a plate. After extensive rehabilitation he has clearly done enough in the England camp to impress Jones, and is preferred for the Six Nations opener to usual outside centre Jonathan Joseph to partner Owen Farrell on Sunday, winning his ninth England cap but making only his second start.

In the absence of injured duo Billy Vunipola and Nathan Hughes, Sam Simmonds wins a fourth cap at number eight, with Chris Robshaw and Courtney Lawes either side of him in the back row.

"He is a good young kid, he does the simple things well, he runs hard, tackles hard, works hard," Jones said of the 23-year-old Simmonds, whom three months ago he described as too small to be an international number eight.

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