England name unchanged side for Italy trip
Thursday 09 February 2012
Chris Robshaw will captain an unchanged England team into Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash with Italy in Rome's Stadio Olimpico.
Interim coach Stuart Lancaster staged a full-blooded training session on Tuesday afternoon to give every member of the squad a chance to force his way into the starting line-up.
But Lancaster has opted to stick by the same team that launched England's title defence with a gritty 13-6 victory over Scotland last weekend.
Northampton's Phil Dowson has held off a challenge from Ben Morgan to keep his place at number eight, in direct opposition to the dynamic Italy captain Sergio Parisse.
Morgan will be primed to make an impact off the bench at the sold-out Olympic Stadium, just as the 22-year-old did on a confident Test debut against Scotland.
Charlie Hodgson has recovered from a blow to the shoulder to continue at fly-half with Owen Farrell and Brad Barritt again forming an all-Saracens midfield.
Saints scrum-half Lee Dickson has recovered from a hand injury to retain his place on the bench, where England stick with a four-three split between forwards and backs.
Lancaster said: "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.
"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 on show 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 this afternoon to provide injury cover.
England are still without Toby Flood and Manu Tuilagi, although both players could feature for Leicester this weekend with a view to being available to face Wales on February 25.
The Northampton pair of Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood are also still sidelined.
Italy coach Jacques Brunel yesterday made two changes to the side that was beaten 30-12 by France last week, handing starts to Aironi lock Marco Bortolami and Clermont Auvergne centre Gonzalo Canale.
Veteran flanker Mauro Bergamasco has been included on the bench after recovering from the shoulder injury that ruled him out of the 2011 championship.
England team to play Italy in the RBS 6 Nations at the Stadio Olimpico, Rome on Saturday, February 11 (kick-off 1600 GMT):
B Foden (Northampton Saints); C Ashton (Northampton Saints), B Barritt (Saracens), O Farrell (Saracens), D Strettle (Saracens); C Hodgson (Saracens), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers); A Corbisiero (London Irish), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), D Cole (Leicester Tigers), M Botha (Saracens), T Palmer (Stade Francais), T Croft (Leicester Tigers), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), P Dowson (Northampton Saints).
Replacements: R Webber (London Wasps), M Stevens (Saracens), G Parling (Leicester Tigers), B Morgan (Scarlets), L Dickson (Northampton Saints), J Turner-Hall (Harlequins), M Brown (Harlequins).
Arsenal vs Chelsea player ratings: Was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain the star as the Gunners ended their Jose Mourinho hoodoo?
Cristiano Ronaldo buys agent Jorge Mendes a whole Greek island as a wedding present
Manchester United and Adidas branded 'sexist' and 'discriminatory' as women's shirt features plunging neckline and different design
Pedro to Manchester United: Louis van Gaal says £22m winger can turn Manchester United into champions
Michael Owen quickly becomes a top Twitter trend after being widely criticised for 'boring' commentary during Arsenal vs Chelsea
- 1 Sabrina Corgatelli: US hunting tourist posts picture of herself with dead giraffe after Cecil the lion outrage
- 2 Katie Hopkins reveals fear she will die during brain surgery to cure epilepsy
- 3 Edward Heath 'child sex abuse' allegation: Investigation to be held into Wiltshire police handling of alleged claim in the 1990s
- 4 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 5 Tom Cruise: Reporters banned from asking actor about Scientology
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Chris Leslie: Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity agenda will harm the poor, says Labour shadow Chancellor
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Landlords renting properties to illegal immigrants to face up to five years in prison