BBC Rugby Six Nations Fixtures

February 7, 2017
Six Nations fixtures

Maro Itoje impressed with a powerful second-half display on debut against Italy

Six Nations: England v Ireland
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday 27 February Kick-off: 16:50 GMT
Coverage: Live on ITV, commentary on BBC Radio 5 live & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Saracens forward Maro Itoje will make his first start for England in the Six Nations game against Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday.

Prop Joe Marler replaces Mako Vunipola in the only other change from the team that started in Rome.

"Everyone is pushing hard to be in contention, so there were some tight calls on selection, " said head coach Eddie Jones.

England starting XV v Ireland

England are chasing a first Six Nations title since 2011 and a first Grand Slam since 2003.

Ireland have made a disappointing start to their defence of the title and sit fourth after a draw with Wales and defeat by France.

On Itoje, England captain Dylan Hartley told BBC Radio 5 live: "Let's just give him that game time and see how he goes, let's not build him up too much and then knock him off his pedestal.

"Courtney Lawes was going to be the next [England World Cup-winning captain] Martin Johnson wasn't he? Now I hear Maro is. Let's just calm down and let him play."

This weekend's live TV and radio coverage
Fri, 26 Feb (20:05 GMT) Wales v France BBC One & Radio 5 live
Sat, 27 Feb (14:25 GMT) Italy v Scotland ITV & 5 live sports extra
Sat, 27 Feb (16:50 GMT) England v Ireland ITV & Radio 5 live

England: Mike Brown (Harlequins), Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph (both Bath), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Jack Nowell (Exeter), George Ford (Bath), Ben Youngs (Leicester); Joe Marler (Harlequins), Dylan Hartley (Northampton - captain), Dan Cole (Leicester), Maro Itoje, George Kruis (both Saracens), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), James Haskell (Wasps), Billy Vunipola (Saracens).

Replacements: Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, Alex Goode (all Saracens), Paul Hill, Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Jack Clifford, Danny Care (Harlequins), Elliot Daly (Wasps).

Analysis

BBC Sport's chief sports writer Tom Fordyce:

"Itoje has been so highly rated for so long that some of his new England team-mates have started calling him 'the chosen one', but this is as much about genuine hope than hype.

"Having started at the same Hertfordshire school as Owen Farrell and George Ford before finishing at the same one as Billy Vunipola, he has been compared to both Martin Johnson and Paul O'Connell by England's defence coach Paul Gustard.

Source: www.bbc.co.uk
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