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England's Six Nations 2016 stars

Published 13/03/2016

England's Billy Vunipola has been in sensational form under Eddie Jones
England's Billy Vunipola has been in sensational form under Eddie Jones

England have seized the 2016 RBS 6 Nations title in the penultimate round of the Championship - the first time the title has been won with a game to spare.

Here Press Association Sport examines the stand-out players in their march to glory.

STAR MAN

Billy Vunipola

England's player of the Championship with man-of-the-match displays against Scotland and Ireland evidence of a growing force who has flourished under new head coach Eddie Jones. Jones has put an arm around his young number eight, giving him greater authority on and off the pitch, and is reaping the rewards. Vunipola's greatest strength is his ball-carrying, which is effective even from a standing start, and he is being used wisely by taking the ball from positions that are not limited to the half-backs.

SUPPORTING CAST

Dylan Hartley

Viewed by many as a controversial appointment as captain due to his dismal disciplinary record, but is proving to be an inspired choice. A natural leader and fine player who was at his best against Ireland and Wales.

George Kruis

The Saracen has established himself as England's stand-out second row during a Six Nations of remarkable consistency. An accomplished line-out operator as befits any protégé of Steve Borthwick's and a menace around the field.

Ben Youngs

England raced out of the blocks against Wales and central to their dominance for 50 minutes was their scrum-half, who kept the visiting back row on their toes with his threat around the fringes. Also impressed against Ireland and is first-choice nine.

Owen Farrell

Adapting well to inside centre and although unable to offer the gain-line threat of a Manu Tuilagi, his hands and vision make him a valuable second playmaking option outside George Ford. Kicked masterfully from the tee against Wales.

A STAR IS BORN

Maro Itoje

It is hard to recall a player whose emergence has caused so much excitement. Still only 21 years old, the supremely athletic Itoje appears to have it all. Against Wales he delivered a near-perfect performance, stealing ball at the line-out, snatching a turnover, delivering shuddering hits and even making a break to set up Anthony Watson's try. Jones believes he needs more snarl and insists his greatest threat is not remaining grounded, but a long and successful future surely beckons.

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