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Lawes and Francis start England’s final World Cup warm-up match

Northampton Saints duo Piers Francis and Courtney Lawes will both start England’s final Rugby World Cup warm-up fixture against Italy on Friday evening.

Francis, 29, and Lawes, 30, are both in line to earn their eighth and 75th caps respectively for the Red Rose in Newcastle, with kick-off at St James’ Park set for 7.45pm (live on Sky Sports).

Head coach Eddie Jones said: “We are delighted to be playing against Italy, one of our traditional Six Nations rivals and the game for us is another important step to develop our game fitness and game strategy.

“We have gone with a mix and match selection policy to develop our adaptability and the team’s ability to cope with any situation.

“We have had a solid training week in Treviso with hot conditions so we are looking forward to testing ourselves against Italy on Friday night. Then we hop on the plane and are ready to go to Japan.”

This is the first England Test match to be played at St James’ Park in Newcastle which hosted three Rugby World Cup fixtures in 2015.

Jones added: “We are excited to be playing in Newcastle. We are playing at an iconic football ground and we know the area is an important one for rugby in the northern part of England. We are looking forward to seeing and playing in front of the fans.”

England starting XV v Italy

15 Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 35 caps)
14 Ruaridh McConnochie (Bath Rugby, uncapped)
13 Joe Marchant (Harlequins, 2 caps)
12 Piers Francis (Northampton Saints, 7 caps)
11 Jonny May (Leicester Tigers, 46 caps)
10 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 72 caps)
9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 88 caps)

1 Joe Marler (Harlequins, 61 caps)
2 Jamie George (Saracens, 39 caps)
3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 88 caps)
4 Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 60 caps)
5 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 74 caps)
6 Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 12 caps)
7 Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons/Sale Sharks, 14 caps)
8 Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 44 caps)

Finishers
16 Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 14 caps)
17 Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 11 caps )
18 Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 24 caps)
19 Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 11 caps)
20 Matt Kvesic (Exeter Chiefs, 3 caps)
21 Willi Heinz (Gloucester Rugby, 3 caps)
22 George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 58 caps)
23 Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby, 7 caps)

Next Home Match

Northampton Saints
12
Days
17
Hours
13
Mins
Wasps
Saturday 28 September - 3:00pm