AFTER an encouraging start to their RBS 6 Nations campaign, England will be looking to build further momentum against Italy. The Red Rose will need the following three men to reproduce the form they displayed at the Millennium Stadium if they are to make it two wins from two.
It’ll be difficult for Cole, not only because he’ll be up against his club colleague Martin Castrogiovanni, one of the most mobile props in the game, but also because of the way scrums are being refereed these days. I hate this crouch, touch and engage business. It’s difficult for the front row guys to get their timing right and the whole process takes too long. It’s ridiculous. I’m hoping the powers that be revert to the previous system before too long.
He may have only played eight times for his country, but the rugby league convert has proved a real find and is fast becoming England’s talisman. Normally that would be a label attributed to a vocal captain, a Martin Johnson or Keith Wood for example. Ashton might not be a leader in the sense that he commands the side, but he’s very quickly established himself as England’s chief try scoring threat and he’s the one guy in that back division, which has come in for some criticism, who excites the crowd.
The Leicester fly-half has been a slow developer, but his display against Wales was perhaps a defining moment in his international career. It can’t be easy with an icon like Jonny Wilkinson breathing down your neck, but Flood is definitely beginning to stamp his authority on Martin Johnson’s side. Against a team like Italy, who’ll try and turn the game into a dogfight, it’s important he puts them in their place early on.
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