England urged to build on their heroics in Wales

Ross McLean
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ENGLAND forwards coach Graham Rowntree insists the new heights scaled by his side during their momentous victory over Wales at the Millennium Stadium will count for little should they fail to be replicated throughout the Six Nations.

The Red Rose have named an unchanged matchday squad to face Italy at Twickenham on Saturday after second row Geoff Parling was yesterday ruled out of the clash.

England launched their quest to end a four-year wait to be crowned Six Nations champions with a 21-16 triumph in Cardiff on Friday, and Rowntree has stressed the need for those performance levels to be reproduced on a consistent basis.

“Many guys set new benchmarks in performance and they have got to get there again, they are going to have to strive to achieve again,” said Rowntree.

“It [victory over Wales] means nothing unless we reach those heights again. It is what I have been saying to the lads and to be fair the lads have been saying that.

“I think Friday was a famous night for us. I think Stuart [Lancaster] alluded to it being one of the peaks, probably the peak, of his coaching involvement with us and our time together. The trouble is we have to do it again now.”

Head coach Stuart Lancaster had hinted that Parling would be included on the bench against Italy as specialist second-row cover at the expense of either Tom Croft or Nick Easter, had he shown no after effects following a knee ligament strain.

But the Leicester lock suffered a setback during training on Monday and will now focus his attention on regaining full fitness ahead of the showdown with Ireland on 1 March, along with fellow forwards Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood.

“Geoff didn’t complete the session and unfortunately he’s not going to be available for this weekend, we will see how he recovers in the next few days,” added Rowntree.

“If we are going same again, I would be happy with that because it means we are picking guys on the bench who can cover many positions.

“There are a lot of top club teams at the moment that are picking back rows in the second row. I like that luxury. France have done it for a long time.”