Reprieved Italy captain back to scupper England grand slam bid

Frank Dalleres
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ENGLAND’S hopes of taking another step towards the grand slam on Sunday against Italy have been dealt a blow after the visitors’ captain Sergio Parisse yesterday successfully appealed a ban.

The experienced Stade Francais No8 had been set to miss the remaining two rounds of the RBS Six Nations due to a 30-day suspension handed down for insulting a referee during a French Top 14 match last month.

But that ban has been slashed by 10 days, freeing up 93-cap Parisse to rejoin the Italy squad last night and return to the starting XV, having missed the home defeat to Wales, on Sunday at Twickenham.

“We learn with satisfaction the news that the disqualification of Sergio Parisse was reduced to 20 days,” said Italy team manager Luigi Troiani.

“The player will be available for the next two games of the Six Nations.

“Sergio is an important element for this group, and we could not be happier to be able to make him available to [head coach] Jacques Brunel for matches against England and Ireland.”

England take a 100 per cent record into the weekend fixture, having already beaten Scotland, Ireland and France, and harbour hopes of achieving a first grand slam since 2003, their World Cup-winning year.

Head coach Stuart Lancaster looks certain to be without fly-half Owen Farrell, the championship’s leading scorer, meaning Leicester’s Toby Flood is in line for his first start of the tournament.