England unchanged for Italy in Six Nations
England interim coach Stuart Lancaster named an unchanged 22 on
Thursday for the Six Nations Championship match away to Italy in Rome on
After seeing his reign as temporary England boss start with a 13-6
win away to Scotland last weekend, it was no surprise that Lancaster
stuck with the same match-day squad that delivered the team's first
Calcutta Cup victory at Murrayfield for eight years.
Charlie Hodgson, who scored England's decisive try in Edinburgh,
continues at fly-half after overcoming a shoulder injury and will form
an all Saracens midfield trio alongside centres Owen Farrell and Brad
Barritt, both of whom made their Test debuts last weekend.
Ben Foden (Northampton); Chris Ashton (Northampton), Brad Barritt
(Saracens), Owen Farrell (Saracens), David Strettle (Saracens); Charlie
Hodgson (Saracens), Ben Youngs (Leicester); Phil Dowson (Northampton),
Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), Tom Croft (Leicester); Tom Palmer
(Stade Francais/FRA), Mouritz Botha (Saracens); Dan Cole (Leicester),
Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Alex Corbisiero (London Irish)
Replacements: Rob Webber (London Wasps), Matt Stevens (Saracens),
Geoff Parling (Leicester), Ben Morgan (Scarlets/WAL), Lee Dickson
(Northampton), Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins), Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Harlequins flanker Chris Robshaw captains the side for the second
time following the Calcutta Cup success in what will be the first
international rugby match played at Rome's Olympic Stadium.
Elsewhere in the pack, Northampton's Phil Dowson stays at No 8 and
will be in direct opposition to impressive Italy captain Sergio Parisse,
with Ben Morgan looking to star off the bench as he did when coming on
for his debut against Scotland.
Reserve scrum-half Lee Dickson has been passed fit despite a hand
injury, with Lancaster again opting for a four-three split between
forwards and backs on the bench.
"We have decided to leave the starting team the same to allow them
more time to gel together and we are expecting our bench to come on and
make an impact as they did last week," said Lancaster.
"Italy will be a very difficult challenge with nearly 700 caps in
their starting line-up and it promises to be an outstanding occasion at
the sold-out Stadio Olimpico."
Wasps hooker Rob Webber was the only one of England's eight uncapped
players at Murrayfield who did not get on the field.
Harlequins prop Joe Marler and Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson will
travel to Rome with the squad on Thursday to provide injury cover.
England are still without fly-half/centre Toby Flood and centre Manu
Tuilagi, although both players could feature for Leicester this weekend
as they aim to put themselves in contention to face Wales on February
Northampton forwards Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood remain injured.
Italy, beaten 30-12 by tournament favourites France last weekend, saw
coach Jacques Brunel make two changes Wednesday, with lock Marco
Bortolami and centre Gonzalo Canale drafted into the starting XV.
Meanwhile experienced flanker Mauro Bergamasco was included on the
bench following the shoulder injury that ruled him out of last year's
England have won all 17 of their previous Tests against Italy and
they are the only team in the Championship the Azzurri have never