England change five for Italy

16 Mars, 2019, 03:36 | Auteur: Adelaide Bullion
  • Cokanasiga and Te'o to start against Italy

"The focus has to be on ourselves and on the things we can control, trying to play our best rugby".

The figures in England's official match programme have Te'o at 104kg and Tuilagi at 111kg, with the latter likely to be more comfortable in the outside-centre role than the No12 position he has filled in the previous Championship matches against Ireland, France and Wales.

Captain and fly-half Owen Farrell, however, insists there is more to their game than simple brute force. "When we get bonus points for making meters we'll start worrying about it". "They're two lads who can do a lot of damage, but who also have some subtleties to their game", he said.

Nevertheless, Jones's desire to have a dynamic and imposing backline was emphasised by the recall of powerhouse right wing Joe Cokanasiga was recalled on after Jack Nowell failed to recover from a shoulder injury.

The physicality of England's backline is further enhanced by the inclusion of winger Joe Cokanasiga, who makes his first Six Nations start after impressing with tries against Australia and Japan in November.

"You look at the last part of the way they played against Scotland, you look at the way they played against Ireland shows they are a good team".

Powerful backs Joe Cokanasiga and Ben Te'o both start while prop Ellis Genge, lock Joe Launchbury and flanker Brad Shields all come into the pack.

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They were uncapped rookies when Jones picked them for the 2016 tour to Australia and even then they made their presence felt.

But even as worldwide novices, the pair made their mark, as Jones recalled.

"I can remember having a session somewhere on the Gold Coast and we took these two young props", Jones said.

"I'll say ambition 20 times because I want them to go out and play". For the whole session we just tried to keep those two calm.

"They're still learning their trade". We've got to understand that. Those guys are being asked to do the same things that back-rows did 10 years ago - plus with guys treading on their toes and pulling their hair and all those sorts of things. "Whoever they put me with, we can figure it out". While England are widely expected to defeat Italy and Scotland at home, Wales still have hard challenges in Scotland and against Ireland if they are to clinch the title. England, however, have never been defeated by Italy, with the Azzurri having lost their last 20 Six Nations matches.

"England will win - and in any style of their coach's desire - but perhaps it will seem a little unusual if it is Conor O'Shea's Italy that (again) show more invention and imagination than England at the home of the game".

For all that recent results have been disappointing, Italy's game has been evolving - a point made in a backhanded compliment by Jones who said the Azzurri were a good side when coach Conor O'Shea, the former Ireland fullback, "lets them play". With Italy you've got to expect anything and that's exactly what we're thinking about.

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