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Jones hands Te'o first England start

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/02/2017 Mitch Phillips

Former Queensland State of Origin forward Ben Te'o will make his first start for England in Sunday's Six Nations clash against Italy at Twickenham.

Auckland-born Te'o looked impressive off the bench in England's tournament opening victories over France, in which he scored the match-winning try and Wales.

The former Junior Kiwi was handed a debut start by coach Eddie Jones on Friday after earning five caps as a replacement.

Jonny May returns on the right wing, Danny Care replaces Ben Youngs as starting halfback and James Haskell is recalled at openside flanker.

Prop Mako Vunipola has returned from a lengthy knee injury layoff to earn a place on the bench.

There had been speculation that Owen Farrell could switch to his club position of flyhalf but he remains at inside centre in a muscular midfield and will earn his 50th cap, having made his debut at the start of the 2012 Six Nations.

Te'o, 30, was born in New Zealand with a Samoan father and English mother.

He moved to Australia as a teenager and forged an impressive career in rugby league in the NRL with Brisbane and South Sydney and also played for Samoa.

In 2014 he switched codes after helping Souths win the NRL premiership, joining Irish province Leinster, before moving again to English Premiership club Worcester at the start of this season.

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