Saints centre Dingwall to make England debut in Six Nations opener

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Saints centre Fraser Dingwall will make his England debut when he starts in the Guinness Six Nations opener against Italy in Rome on Saturday (kick-off 2.15pm GMT).

The 24-year-old earns his first cap for the Red Rose as he plays in the midfield, with club-mates Tommy Freeman and Alex Mitchell joining him in a Saints-heavy backline for their fourth and 12th caps respectively.

There’s also room in the 23 for versatile forward Alex Coles, who can cover lock or back row, and for fly-half Fin Smith – who, like Dingwall, would also earn his first cap if he enters the action from amongst the replacements.

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But Tom Pearson and George Furbank are not in the matchday squad.

Fraser Dingwall (photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)Fraser Dingwall (photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Fraser Dingwall (photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Saracens hooker Jamie George captains England in Rome, with Ethan Roots, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (both Exeter Chiefs) and Chandler Cunningham-South (Harlequins) making up the contingent of five uncapped players in total for head coach Steve Borthwick’s side.

“After an excellent week’s preparation in Girona, we look forward to the challenge of playing Italy in Rome,” said Borthwick.

“The Azzurri are a dangerous team, with some talented ball carriers and players who like to find space.

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"We’ll need to make good decisions, keep our discipline, and maintain a level of intensity to our performance from the first whistle to the last.

“Winning a first cap for your country is always a very special occasion. We’re delighted for the debutants who have all worked incredibly hard to get themselves selected in the 23 to face Italy. I know Saturday will be a very proud moment for the players and their families.

“My message to them this week has been to be themselves, to grasp their opportunity, and to play with the strengths and skills that deservedly got them selected to a strong Six Nations squad.”

Meanwhile, Saints prop Elliot Millar Mills is set to make his Scotland debut on Saturday after being named on the bench for the game against Wales in Cardiff.

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But there is no place in the Scotland 23 for in-form Saints centre Rory Hutchinson.

England team to face Wales: 15 Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 31 caps); 14 Tommy Freeman (Saints, 3 caps), 13 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 57 caps), 12 Fraser Dingwall (Saints, uncapped), 11 Elliot Daly (Saracens, 64 caps); 10 George Ford (Sale Sharks, 91 caps) – vice captain, 9 Alex Mitchell (Saints, 11 caps); 1 Joe Marler (Harlequins, 88 caps), 2 Jamie George (Saracens, 85 caps) – captain, 3 Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 33 caps); 4 Maro Itoje (Saracens, 76 caps) – vice captain, 5 Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers, 18 caps); 6 Ethan Roots (Exeter Chiefs, uncapped), 7 Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 30 caps), 8 Ben Earl (Saracens, 25 caps).

Replacements: 16 Theo Dan (Saracens, 7 caps), 17 Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears, 58 caps) – vice captain, 18 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 107 caps), 19 Alex Coles (Saints, 3 caps), 20 Chandler Cunningham-South (Harlequins, uncapped), 21 Danny Care (Harlequins, 96 caps), 22 Fin Smith (Saints, uncapped), 23 Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (Exeter Chiefs, uncapped).