England starts 6 Nations defence by crushing Italy 46-15

England rugby players Mike Tindall and Jack Nowell

England rugby players Mike Tindall and Jack Nowell

But next week's opponents Wales will have noticed some holes to exploit ahead of their clash at Twickenham.

Italy face the perennial problem of trying to make sure they are not beaten before they go out on the pitch, although an England sie featuring several untested combinations could give them fresh hope that an upset is possible this time.

England: Mike Brown, Anthony Watson, Ben Te'o, Owen Farrell, Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Sam Simmonds, Chris Robshaw, Courtney Lawes, Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury, Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley (captain), Mako Vunipola.

It was May, off his wing, who was also the provider for the second as the speedsters caused chaos in the Eternal City.

Italy would not lie down, however, and went over again through winger Mattia Bellini on the far side - the try had to be sent to the TMO before being confirmed. England are favourites to become the first side to win the tournament outright three times in a row, but Ireland are considered to be the leading contenders to dethrone Eddie Jones' men.

That broke Italian spirits, prompting a late flurry from England; first Simmonds added a second, then substitute Jack Nowell rounded off the rout.

Ben Youngs is preferred to Danny Care at scrum-half, while Sam Simmonds is at number eight and uncapped prop Alec Hepburn is among the replacements.

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Jones was in good spirits after the win, he added: "With Alec and his mate Harry Williams, there was plenty of hair in the front row".

"We're in this tournament to win it", said Jones. "Conor O'Shea is doing a great job coaching them and it was a good tough game of rugby and we ran away with it in the end".

"We played some excellent rugby and contributed to an entertaining game, but I'm proud and annoyed".

Centre Ben Te'o will play his first England Test for nearly a year and his first rugby of any sort for more than three months after overcoming an ankle injury to be included in the team named by Eddie Jones to face Italy in Rome tomorrow.

The part-Samoan 31-year-old has had to work overtime to get back into test-match shape after such a long lay-off. "He's a great discovery for us and gives us great options at number eight".

Slow starts are a hallmark of this England side and, while that may seem the wrong way to describe a half that began with Watson's tries, it was not looking like the kind of statement the coach had wanted until Italy's young bucks, full of invention and energy, ran out of puff.

Nevertheless, the scoreline will make upsetting reading to a nation struggling to cope with a first omission from the football World Cup later this year. We know it's step by step. It's hard, hard, hard as our group contributed massively to the game, and we're sure of where we're going. But we are making it.

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