Eddie Jones has forecast Ollie Lawrence will become a “great” player for England despite dropping the Worcester centre for the Six Nations clash at home to Italy on Saturday.
Lawrence was somewhat unluckily omitted from the matchday 23 for the second-round match after having to wait until the 63rd minute of last week’s shock 11-6 loss to Scotland at Twickenham before getting his hands on the ball.
England have moved captain Owen Farrell from flyhalf to inside centre, with George Ford returning at No 10 and Henry Slade completing the reigning Six Nations champions’ midfield line-up.
The rejig means 21-year-old powerhouse back Lawrence will not be adding to his tally of four Test caps against the Azzurri.
“Scotland was a difficult game for Ollie, but he’s a young guy who is learning his trade,” Jones told reporters after naming his side on Thursday.
“This is all part of learning his trade. He is going to be a great player for us.
“We just think this is the right balance for this game. We know that George and Owen operate well at 10 and 12. And we’d like to get Henry into the game more.”
Jones resisted calls to drop Farrell, who finds himself back alongside old school friend Ford, with the Saracens star determined England put on an improved display after their first Twickenham loss to Scotland in 38 years.
“We are looking forward to showing it, rather than talking about it,” said Farrell. “Hopefully you see a team that attacks the game.”