Six Nations 2018: 'Sometimes you need size' - Eddie Jones on Ben Te'o

Ben Teo
Te'o started the first British and Irish Lions Test against New Zealand, having started just one England match
Italy v England
Date: Sunday 4 February Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Live radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and online, live text commentary

Ben Te'o will "fill a hole" in the England midfield when he starts against Italy in the Six Nations on Sunday, says head coach Eddie Jones.

The Worcester centre has not played since October because of an ankle injury and is making just his second start in an England shirt.

Te'o will add bulk and a "competitive edge" to the back division, Jones said.

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"Sometimes you do need size. It's not everything - but Te'o certainly fills a hole for us," Jones told BBC Sport.

"There are two things we need to do in the backs: either get more size, or get quicker and more skilful.

"We are working on both, because we need to have a competitive edge in the backline.

"If we find good big guys that can fit our game-plan then they will get an opportunity, and Ben is one of those."

A persistent ankle problem threatened to rule Te'o out of the Six Nations, but after travelling to Australia for physiotherapy, the 31-year-old has been thrust straight into the starting XV for England's tournament opener in Rome.

"He probably won't play 80, but we have guys like Jonathan Joseph or Jack Nowell on the bench," Jones said.

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Te'o's last start was the corresponding fixture against Italy in 2017, a game famous for the Azzurri's use of "The Fox", or "no-ruck" tactic.

"We always wanted to play him at 13. He was out-foxed the last time he played Italy, so we are hoping this time the foxes don't get him," Jones added.

The trio of George Ford, Owen Farrell and Joseph have formed a highly-successful midfield combination for the majority of Jones' matches in charge, despite lacking a big, physical presence.

However the Australian insists that unit is not too light, and says the trio could start again in the near future.

"It's not at all [too light], and it could play against Wales. But this is another option for us, and it's great to have different options."

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