Steve Borthwick is searching for his first win as England head coach
History beckons. Italy sniff a first ever win against England while new Twickenham boss Steve Borthwick is desperate to get off the mark after a disappointing Calcutta defeat to Scotland on the opening Six Nations weekend.
The Azzurri came ever so close to upsetting France in Rome last Sunday, but crucially didn’t quite have the composure to get the job done. But 12 months ago, who thought that would have even been possible?
Kieran Crowley’s men are a rejuvenated entertaining outfit with wins over Wales and Australia in 2022 in the back pocket. On the other hand, England are looking to turn promise into product. A new coaching staff, a new era and the end of the Smith-Farrell axis? Owen has the keys to No 10 this week, at least.
Read more: Rugby Fixtures
The magic and spontaneity of Ange Capuozzo will captivate the Twickenham crowd. Can England live with him and his mates? There were signs of hope against Scotland, but the overriding feeling of cautious optimism that most fans left with last week, will not be present this time around if the result does not follow.
What is the team news for Six Nations England v Italy?
The big news for England is that Borthwick has shuffled the pack with Owen Farrell starting at fly-half and Marcus Smith relegated to the bench. Henry Slade returns at outside centre, with Borthwick effusive in his praise of the Exeter Chiefs man during the week.
Slade partners up with Ollie Lawrence, with the Bath man tasked with filling the troublesome No 12 jumper. In the pack, Jack Willis starts on the openside after his Toulouse commitments hampered his chances of selection for the Calcutta Cup.
Ben Curry is axed from the entire 23 with Ben Earl retaining his place on the bench. England’s most-capped male, scrum-half Ben Youngs, is also excluded with Northampton Saints’ Alex Mitchell providing cover for Jack van Poortvliet.
And there is an exciting return for London Irish flyer Henry Arundell, fit again after a foot problem to wear the No 23 having exploded onto the international scene with his first touch Down Under last summer.
For Italy, the scorer of the try that sunk Wales last year, Edoardo Padovani, returns on the wing in place of Pierre Bruno who drops to the bench. If Padovani can down England, it will be an even greater story.
And up front, Saracens tighthead Marco Riccioni comes into the starting XV with an intriguing match-up against Ellis Genge in store.
What have the coaches said ahead of Six Nations England v Italy?
England head coach Steve Borthwick said: “We recognise and respect the very real threat Italy pose in this Guinness Six Nations Championship and we are preparing accordingly.
“We are at the start of what is a completely new cycle of England Rugby. The implementation of new systems does take time and the squad is showing themselves to be hungry to deliver the sort of performance that we know they are capable of.
“I have selected a team I believe is best placed to meet the specific challenges Italy will bring. It is a selection of players whose form, individual strengths and combined qualities suit the way we want to play against Italy, in what we anticipate will be another hard-fought and entertaining spectacle.”
Italy head coach Kieran Crowley said: “We are looking forward to going to Twickenham and playing against an English team who have spent three weeks together with new staff.
“In our first game against France, we were inaccurate in the first 20 minutes and we had moments when we didn’t play as we wanted.
“We have worked well during this week and we hope that the attention to detail that was missing last week is present for this match.”
Any interesting statistics?
- England have won each of their 23 matches against Italy in the Guinness Six Nations and are the only nation the Azzurri are yet to beat since joining the Championship in 2000.
- England have lost each of their last two home games in the Guinness Six Nations. They’ve never lost three in a row at Twickenham in the Championship, while the last time they lost three straight home games in the Five Nations was back in 1971-72.
- Italy won their most recent away game in the Guinness Six Nations, against Wales in Round 5 last year, but have never won consecutive away matches in the Championship.
- Italy had an average ruck speed of 2.99 seconds in Round 1, the best rate of any nation, while England slowed down their opponents rucks more than any other side on average (4.64s)
- Ellis Genge and Lewis Ludlam each made 18 carries in Round 1, the joint-most of any player. Genge’s total was the most by a prop in a Championship match, beating his own record from 2019.
What time does it kick off and is it on TV?
Read more: How to watch the Six Nations from anywhere
England v Italy kicks off at 3pm GMT on Sunday 12 February. Coverage is live on ITV in the UK with viewers able to tune in from 2.15pm.
BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra will broadcast from 2.30pm while Irish viewers can tune into RTÉ 2 at the same time.
Related: Six Nations referees
England v Italy (Twickenham; Sunday 12 February 2022)
Referee: James Doleman (New Zealand)
Assistant Referee 1: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referee 2: Tual Trainini (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)
What are the full line-ups?
ENGLAND: Freddie Steward; Max Malins, Henry Slade, Ollie Lawrence, Ollie Hassell-Collins; Owen Farrell (captain), Jack van Poortvliet; Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Ollie Chessum, Lewis Ludlam, Jack Willis, Alex Dombrandt
Replacements: Jack Walker, Mako Vunipola, Dan Cole, Nick Isiekwe, Ben Earl, Alex Mitchell, Marcus Smith, Henry Arundell
ITALY: Ange Capuozzo, Edoardo Padovani, Juan Ignacio Brex, Luca Morisi, Tommaso Menoncello; Tommaso Allan, Stephen Varney; Danilo Fischetti, Giacomo Nicotera, Marco Riccioni, Niccolò Cannone, Federico Ruzza, Sebastian Negri, Michele Lamaro, Lorenzo Cannone.
Replacements: Luca Bigi, Federico Zani, Simone Ferrari, Edoardo Iachizzi, Jake Polledri, Manuel Zuliani, Alessandro Fusco, Pierre Bruno
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