Eddie Jones is weighing up making a number of changes for England’s round three Six Nations match against Italy with Mako Vunipola and Anthony Watson both coming back into the reckoning.
England’s unbeaten run continued with a 21-16 win over Wales in Cardiff on Saturday and they now have a fallow week before facing Italy on Feb. 26. Jones intends to mix things up next week with them staying in central London rather than their usual Bagshot base and he will even take his forwards for a lineout session in Hyde Park.
There were some battered and bruised bodies after their late win over Wales but the squad is set to be bolstered by players returning from injury as Jones weighs up a different game plan for Italy at Twickenham with Conor O’Shea’s team likely to be hurting after their heavy loss to Ireland.
“I want to do something a bit different against Italy,” Jones said. “I want to play differently against them; experiment a bit in how we play…and maybe the team might be different.
“I want to keep developing the team. My job is to keep doing that. We’ve got to win against Italy to win the Six Nations. It’s bloody important we beat Italy and we’ll make sure we do.”
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Watson, who missed the first two rounds of the championship through a hamstring injury, should be back fit for the Azzurri and will offer another option both at fullback and on the wings.
“He ran at 95 per cent on Friday so we are confident that he will be able to play against Italy so it will be great to have him back,” Jones said. “We will probably use him against Italy.”
Watson is unlikely to be released for Bath’s next Aviva Premiership match against Harlequins on Saturday but Saracens are likely to have Mako Vunipola at their disposal for Friday’s game against Gloucester as he returns after his spell out with a knee injury.
“We will have a look at him,” Jones said of Vunipola. “Joe Marler has been super for us as well. He has done really well and then [Matt] Mullan has been doing well off the bench. Then you have the young gangster from Bristol [Ellis Genge]. We have got great depth in that area.”
Jones will also keep an eye on uncapped back Alex Lozowski who has impressed in training and he could make his debut against Italy while James Haskell, who has been on the bench for their wins over France and Wales, could be fit enough to start.
The England coach has some big decisions to make ahead of Italy but they are still waiting on Billy Vunipola. The hope is he will have recovered from his knee injury in time to face Ireland in round five.
Source Article from http://www.espn.co.uk/rugby/story/_/id/18670438/mako-vunipola-anthony-watson-back-mix-england-ahead-italy
Vunipola and Watson back in the mix for England
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