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Ben Te'o set for England rugby start

Press Association logoPress Association 22/02/2017

Former NRL star Ben Te'o is set to make his first start for England in a new-look centre pairing in the Six Nations rugby match against Italy at Twickenham.

The Auckland-born former rugby league back-rower's expected promotion to starting inside centre comes after coach Eddie Jones dropped Jonathan Joseph from his 24-man squad for Sunday's (Monday AEDT) game.

It is the second time the Bath centre has been dropped by Jones, after making way for Elliot Daly in last autumn's victory over South Africa, and it is his rival from Wasps who could also usurp him at outside centre on this occasion.

Owen Farrell, who is set to win his 50th cap, is in contention at five-eighth inside a midfield partnership that is expected to see Te'o start alongside Daly.

Te'o, 30, who played State of Origin rugby league for Queensland, made a telling impact when coming off the bench against France and Wales, while Daly has been among England's best backs since breaking into the starting XV last autumn.

Anthony Watson is poised to appear in an England match-day squad for the first time since the June tour to Australia after recovering from the hamstring injury he suffered last month.

Along with Daly, Watson is seen as a possible long-term replacement for Mike Brown at fullback.

Brown is present among the 24 and will start against Italy, with Watson, Jonny May and Jack Nowell appearing to be in contention for the wing spots.

England may give James Haskell his first start since the clean sweep of the Wallabies after declaring the openside is fit enough to step up from the 'finisher' role he has performed so far in the Six Nations.

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