Italy v England preview

England know that their Six Nations fate will not be in their own hands even if they register a big win against Italy in Rome on Saturday.

Stuart Lancaster's side currently sit second in the standings on six points, the same number Ireland and France have earned heading into the final weekend of the competition.

England will play in the early kick-off at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday and need to come through unscathed before facing an anxious wait for the outcome of France's game with Ireland later on.

A France win coupled with an England success is likely to send the title to Twickenham, but if Ireland win in Paris then England will have had to have overturned a huge points-difference deficit to prevail.

It has been suggested that the scheduling gives Ireland and France a clear advantage as they will head into their clash knowing exactly what needs to be done, but Lancaster has no complaints.

"It's not something I've thought about. The current (scheduling) contract is in place to 2017 and it really isn't a factor for us," he said.

"It's irrelevant whether we kick off at the same time or later. We've still got to do a job. We've still got to play well.


"I don't think it affects the outcome of a game knowing what you need to do - I don't think players or coaches think that way. You're that concentrated on your own detail, your own preparation, that you barely even cast an eye at the scoreline.

"There have been games played during this tournament which have been on TV while we've been warming up. As a coach I've barely cast an eye on it, never mind a player who's getting warmed up."

Lancaster has tried not to change his starting XV throughout the tournament and has only made one alteration from last weekend's win over Wales - Mako Vunipola coming in at prop for Joe Marler, who is absent due to the birth of his child.

Manu Tuilagi could make his first appearance of this year's competition after being named on the bench after recovering from a torn pectoral muscle.

Italy are on course to be given the wooden spoon, although they have been boosted by the return of captain Sergio Parisse.

Paul Derbyshire makes way for Parisse, who will start at No 8 with Robert Barbieri reverting to flanker.

Both starting props from last weekend's defeat to Ireland in Dublin miss out as Matias Aguero replaces loosehead Alberto De Marchi and Lorenzo Cittadini comes in for the injured Martin Castrogiovanni.

Italy: 15 McLean, 14 Esposito, 13 Campagnaro, 12 Garcia, 11 Sarto, 10 Orquera, 9 Tebaldi; 1 Aguero, 2 Ghiraldini, 3 Cittadini, 4 Geldenhuys, 5 Bortolami, 6 Furno, 7 Barbieri, 8 Parisse (c).

Replacements: 16 Giazzon, 17 Rizzo, 18 De Marchi, 19 Biagi, 20 Derbyshire, 21 Gori, 22 Allan, 23 Masi.

England: 15 Brown, 14 Nowell, 13 Burrell, 12 Twelvetrees, 11 May, 10 Farrell, 9 Care; 1 Vunipola, 2 Hartley, 3 Wilson, 4 Launchbury, 5 Lawes, 6 Wood, 7 Robshaw (c), 8 Morgan.

Replacements: 16 Youngs, 17 Mull, 18 Thomas, 19 Attwood, 20 Johnson, 21 Dickson, 22 Ford, 23 Tuilagi.