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England's Itoje will return from injury for Six Nations

Itoje had been injured playing for his club side Harlequins earlier this month. Credit: PA

Maro Itoje will be available for the start of England's Six Nations title defence after Saracens revealed he faces a maximum of four more weeks in rehabilitation.

Itoje required surgery on a fractured jaw sustained in the 20-19 defeat at Harlequins on December 3, resulting in two plates being inserted into his face and raising the alarm that he may not be fit to face Italy on February 4.

But a visit to the specialist offered a diagnosis of up to six weeks in the treatment room, pointing to a return for the final two rounds of Saracens' Champions Cup group campaign against the Ospreys and Northampton.

"Maro is probably three or four weeks away. He went to see the specialist who said a maximum of six weeks and he's already done a week and a half," director of rugby Mark McCall said.

Itoje, a Test British and Irish Lion, departed in the 48th minute at Twickenham Stoop following a collision with England team-mate Mike Brown.

The world player of the year nominee was given a reduced role in the autumn series due to Eddie Jones' desire to manage his workload, missing the opener against Argentina, playing as a replacement for the visit of Australia before starting against Samoa.


England name team to face Samoa

Credit: PA

England team to play Samoa at Twickenham on Saturday, November 25, 3pm KO:

M Brown (Harlequins); J May (Leicester Tigers), H Slade (Exeter Chiefs), A Lozowski (Saracens), E Daly (Wasps), G Ford (Leicester Tigers, co-captain), D Care (Harlequins), E Genge (Leicester Tigers), J George (Saracens 19), D Cole (Leicester Tigers), J Launchbury (Wasps), C Ewels (Bath Rugby), M Itoje (Saracens), C Robshaw (Harlequins, co-captain), S Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs).

Replacements: D Hartley (Northampton Saints), J Marler (Harlequins), H Williams (Exeter Chiefs), N Isiekwe (Saracens), C Lawes (Northampton Saints), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers), P Francis (Northampton Saints), S Rokoduguni (Bath Rugby).


England captain Hunter to make 100th appearance

Credit: PA

England captain Sarah Hunter will make her 100th international appearance in the second Test against Canada on Tuesday night.

The 32-year-old will play at number eight while Loughborough Lightning second row Catherine O'Donnell and Darlington Mowden Park Sharks flanker Jo Brown both make their debuts.

"Sarah Hunter is an incredible player and the ultimate professional," head coach Simon Middleton told England Rugby's official website. "She has the highest standards in everything that she does, both on and off the pitch."

Middleton, who has made six changes following England's 79-5 win in the opening Test, has also handed a first start to Gloucester-Hartpury full-back Ellie Kildunne and Lagi Tuima (Bristol Ladies) could make her debut off the bench.

Jess Breach, who scored six tries on her England debut off the left wing against Canada on Friday night, will switch to the right wing.

"We haven't made wholesale changes as we want to maintain core stability and that's been the approach with this particular side," Middleton added.

"We have mixed the forwards a bit more and the backs remain stable, with that we know we will create opportunities to get the younger players on the ball again and give them a chance to shine."

England line-up: Ellie Kildunne, Jess Breach, Rachael Burford, Amber Reed, Charlotte Clapp, Katy Daley-Mclean, Leanne Riley, Rochelle Clark, Amy Cokayne, Heather Kerr, Catherine O'Donnell, Tamara Taylor, Jo Brown, Marlie Packer, Sarah Hunter.

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