Rugby-Vunipola to start for England against Italy

BAGSHOT, England, March 8 Fri Mar 8, 2013 10:57am GMT

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BAGSHOT, England, March 8 (Reuters) - Prop Mako Vunipola will make his first start for England against Italy in their Twickenham Six Nations clash on Sunday as coach Stuart Lancaster made five changes from the team who beat France last time out.

The huge 22-year-old New Zealand-born loosehead, whose father Fe'ao captained Tonga and played against England in the 1999 World Cup, comes in for Joe Marler as a reward for some dynamic displays off the bench having won all his previous seven caps as a replacement.

Toby Flood starts at flyhalf in place of the injured Owen Farrell, Danny Care regains the scrumhalf berth from Ben Youngs, James Haskell returns to blindside flanker for Courtney Lawes and Tom Youngs is back in at hooker as England seek to make it four wins out of four after victories over Scotland, Ireland and France.

There was also a recall to the bench for flanker Tom Croft, who has made a remarkable recovery after almost being paralysed after breaking his neck 11 months ago.

Italy name their team later on Friday.

England: 15-Alex Goode, 14-Chris Ashton, 13-Manu Tuilagi, 12-Brad Barritt, 11-Mike Brown, 10-Toby Flood, 9-Danny Care; 8-Tom Wood, 7-Chris Robshaw (captain), 6-James Haskell, 5-Geoff Parling, 4-Joe Launchbury, 3-Dan Cole, 2-Tom Youngs, 1-Mako Vunipola

Replacements: 16-Dylan Hartley, 17-Dave Wilson, 18-Joe Marler, 19-Courtney Lawes, 20-Tom Croft, 21-Ben Youngs, 22-Freddie Burns, 23-Billy Twelvetrees. (Reporting by Mitch Phillips, Editing by Mark Meadows; mark.meadows@thomsonreuters.com; +44 20 7542 7933; Reuters Messaging:; mark.meadows.reuters.com@reuters.net)

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