Youngs to win 100th England cap as Hill makes debut against Italy

London (AFP) –

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Ben Youngs is set to become the first back to win 100 England caps after the scrum-half was named Thursday in the starting side for this weekend's Six Nations finale away to Italy.

Only retired prop Jason Leonard (114 caps) has made more Test appearances for England than the 31-year-old Youngs, who has also played in two internationals for the British and Irish Lions.

At the other end of the experience spectrum, lock Jonny Hill is poised for a Test debut after helping Exeter complete an English Premiership and European Champions Cup double this season, with the newcomer set to partner Maro Itoje in the second row in Rome.

England head into the final round of this coronavirus-delayed Six Nations knowing a win over perennial strugglers Italy could see them crowned champions if the result of the France-Ireland match later Saturday also falls in their favour.

But they will go into the game without a warm-up match after last week's fixture against the Barbarians was cancelled after breaches of Covid-19 health protocols involving the invitational club's players.

England (15-1)

George Furbank; Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Henry Slade, Jonny May; Owen Farrell (capt), Ben Youngs; Billy Vunipola, Sam Underhill, Tom Curry; Jonny Hill, Maro Itoje; Kyle Sinckler, Jamie George, Mako Vunipola

Replacements: Tom Dunn, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels, Ben Earl, Dan Robson, Ollie Lawrence, Ollie Thorley