As the second round of the RBS 6 Nations rapidly approaches, England will have their eyes firmly fixed upon their next opponents; a stalwart Italian side that has caused England many a problem in past fixtures. While English fans will no doubt still be rejoicing the magnanimous victory in Cardiff last week, Stuart Lancaster and his team will have put it far behind them. England did the job in their opening game, but are now faced with an Italian team that possesses the ability to make life very difficult for the men in white.
|England are yet to lose against Italy, although recent fixtures |
have proved testing
An unchanged 23 match day squad is a bold statement by the England coaching team, but a wise one. It is certainly a statement of intent. As Lancaster fittingly stated after the team announcement, the boys that performed in Cardiff should have the opportunity to build on their success, and I couldn't have said it better myself. Continuity throughout their 6 Nations campaign will be crucial to England's success, as well as being integral to a stable build up to this year's World Cup. With experienced and very-much talented individuals returning from injury, competition to get in to the match-day squad is at an all-time high, which can only mean good things from an England point of view. However, the current focus of the coaches and their team will be towards this weekend's battle...
So, let's look at the Italian danger-men which could upset England's dream start to their 6 Nations campaign. Sergio Parisse is the obvious 'big fish' in the Italian team; a destructive ball carrier and born leader, he can be dangerous in the loose as well as a safe pair of hands under the high ball. Fullback Luke Mclean can also provide Italy with a dynamic attacking option, and with the likes of hooker Ghiraldini making the most of regular game time in the Aviva Premiership, Italy look to be a side that is building in strength. Always a tough and tenacious opponent for England, Chris Robshaw and his team will have to be at the top of their game to get the best of this proud Italian team.
15 Mike Brown 14 Anthony Watson 13 Jonathon Joseph 12 Luther Burrell 11 Jonny May 10 George Ford 9 Ben Youngs 1 Joe Marler 2 Dylan Hartley 3 Dan Cole 4 Dave Attwood 5 George Kruis 6 James Haskell 7 Chris Robshaw 8 Billy Vunipola
16 Tom Youngs 17 Mako Vunipola 18 Kieran Brookes 19 Nick Easter 20 Tom Croft 21 Richard Rigglesworth 22 Danny Cirpriani 23 Billy Twelvetrees
15 Luke Mclean 14 Leonardo Sarto 13 Luca Morisi 12 Andrea Masi 11 Giovanbattista Venditti 10 Kelly Haimona 9 Edoardo Gori 1 Alberto De Marchi 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini 3 Martin Castrogiovanni 4 George Biagi 5 Marco Bortolami 6 Mauro Bergamasco 7 Francesco Minto 8 Sergio Parisse
16 Andrea Manici 17 Matias Aguero 18 Dario Chistolini 19 Josh Furno 20 Samuela vunisa 21 Guglielmo Palazzani 22 Tomasco Allan 23 Guilio Bisegni