ENGLAND head coach Stuart Lancaster intends to remind his players of past struggles against Italy in a bid to quash complacency ahead of tomorrow’s Six Nations clash at Twickenham.
Lancaster has retained faith with the starting XV and bench which were on duty as England dispatched Wales 21-16 at the Millennium Stadium during the championship curtain-raiser last Friday night.
The Red Rose have never lost to Italy in 20 matches dating back to 1991 but have won by only seven points or less in three of their last five encounters, and Lancaster remains wary of the Azzurri, who lost 26-3 to Ireland in their opening encounter.
“You show them images of us struggling against them in the past, because we have done,” said Lancaster, explaining how he intends to combat complacency.
“My first game in charge was in Italy in the snow and it was down to a Charlie Hodgson charge-down that we won that game.
“Two years ago at Twickenham it was 18-11 and they were pressing our line in the latter stages when Courtney Lawes stole one of their line-outs; we could have easily drawn that game. There are plenty of images I can show, I assure you.
“Italy are going to be fired up, they always are when they come to Twickenham, especially after last week’s loss to Ireland. We know what’s coming at us but we have prepared well.”
Bath’s Jonathan Joseph, who scored England’s match-clinching try in Cardiff, will resume his centre partnership with Luther Burrell, and together with second row George Kruis will make a first international start at Twickenham.
Leicester’s tighthead prop Dan Cole is set to continue his resurgence following a year interrupted by neck and foot injuries, while Joe Marler maintains his place as first-choice loosehead on the opposite side of the scrum.
“It’s always good to be able to name an unchanged team and to build some consistency,” added Lancaster. “We did the same last year after France heading into the Scotland game.”