Lancaster: Leadership group pivotal to our Six Nations glory bid

Ross McLean
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Chris Robshaw led England to victory in their Six Nations opener against Wales in Cardiff
ENGLAND head coach Stuart Lancaster insists shared leadership can stoke his side’s bid for Six Nations glory when their title charge continues against Italy at Twickenham on Saturday.

Lancaster is keen to develop a strong command axis ahead of the World Cup and cultivate traits showcased during England’s victory over Wales on Friday, when the Red Rose recovered from a 16-8 half-time deficit to post 13 unanswered points.

The manner of England’s win has prompted Lancaster to suggest the England XV will be unchanged when he names his side for the Italy clash on Thursday, despite an easing of his extensive injury worries.

Skipper Chris Robshaw, whose captaincy and decision-making have previously been questioned, ordered his players to stand their ground in the tunnel while waiting for Wales to emerge from their dressing room – leadership qualities Lancaster believes epitomises England.

“There is a growing sense in the team of collective leadership and a collective desire to impose our game on the opposition,” said Lancaster. “I think we have got a good leadership group now who are helping Chris, who sets the tone as the captain.”

Lancaster, meanwhile, is set to keep faith with the players who dispatched Wales and resist the temptation to thrust centres Brad Barritt and Kyle Eastmond as well as second row Geoff Parling into frontline action.

Barritt and Parling have returned to training following medial knee ligament strains and Eastmond is back from a shoulder problem, while flanker Tom Wood and lock Courtney Lawes are expected to be in contention for the Ireland match on 1 March.

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