STUART LANCASTER has named an unchanged England team to take on Italy in Rome in the Six Nations on Saturday afternoon.
England secured a narrow 13-6 win over Scotland last weekend to lift the Calcutta Cup and coach Lancaster wants to give the team more time to “gel together” so has picked the same 22 to face an experienced Azzurri side, which lost 30-12 to France in the opening round.
Replacement scrum-half Lee Dickson was the only injury worry, but he has recovered far quicker than expected from his hand problem to take his place on the bench.
“We have had a good week in spite of the weather and reflected on the game, reviewed and learnt from it, and will look to improve the quality of our performance this week,” said Lancaster.
“We have decided to leave the starting team the same to allow them more time to gel together and we are expecting our bench to come on and make an impact as they did last week. Italy will be a very difficult challenge with nearly 700 caps in their starting line-up and it promises to be an outstanding occasion at the sold-out Stadio Olimpico.”
ITALY v ENGLAND, STADIO OLIMPICO, SATURDAY 11 FEBRUARY, KICK-OFF 4pm
Italy: Andrea Masi; Giovanbattista Venditti, Tommaso Benvenuti, Gonzalo Canale, Luke McLean; Kristopher Burton, Edoardo Gori; Andrea Lo Cicero, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Martin Castrogiovanni, Quintin Geldenhuys, Marco Bortolami, Alessandro Zanni, Robert Barbieri, Sergio Parisse (capt).
Replacements: Tommaso D’Apice, Lorenzo Cittadini, Antonio Pavanello, Mauro Bergamasco, Fabio Semenzato, Tobias Botes, Luca Morisi.
England: Ben Foden; Chris Ashton, Brad Barritt, Owen Farrell, David Strettle; Charlie Hodgson, Ben Youngs; Alex Corbisiero, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole , Mouritz Botha, Tom Palmer, Tom Croft, Chris Robshaw (capt), Phil Dowson.
Replacements: Rob Webber, Matt Stevens, Geoff Parling, Ben Morgan, Lee Dickson, Jordan Turner-Hall, Mike Brown.