Geoff Parling: England’s high-flying Six Nations enforcer

After becoming Stuart Lancaster’s main man in the line-out, Geoff Parling tells Chris Hewett he is not taking victory for granted against Italy on Sunday

England’s coaches may have the luxury of looking at the bigger picture as they close in on a first Grand Slam in a decade, but Geoff Parling is not seeing beyond the next line-out.

One of the senior figures in the red-rose dressing room, the Leicester lock will spend the next 24 hours reminding everyone within earshot that next week’s big game with Wales in Cardiff will be a whole lot smaller if Italy are taken too lightly at Twickenham on Sunday.

“We mustn’t get ahead of ourselves – not for one minute,” said the Teesider yesterday on being asked whether the players, like Stuart Lancaster and his fellow back-roomers, were approaching the remaining Six Nations fixtures as a two-game project. “If the coaches see it that way, it’s because there’s a six-day turnaround between Italy and Wales and they need to plan accordingly. From our point of view, if we go into Italy thinking about Wales, there’ll be problems.

“Leicester played Treviso in this season’s Heineken Cup and when we went over there, we only just scraped a win. We know what we’re facing in this match. They’re coming to Twickenham with nothing to lose. They’ll be physical and they’ll get stuck in up front – they’re good at spoiling opposition ball and making life difficult. I see this as a test for us.”

Thanks in no small part to Parling, who has brought a certain rigour to the England pack since breaking into the starting line-up midway through last year’s tournament, such tests are being passed with pleasing regularity. But the line-out, his prime area of responsibility, has missed a beat or two of late and he is not best pleased with the drop in standards.

“Against Ireland we lost three line-outs, and another two against the French,” he acknowledged. “It’s down to detail, and while I’m not a 4.30am man when it comes to analysing these things [as the former England captain Steve Borthwick was said to be], I do spend a lot of time worrying about it. But I’m not too concerned. We’ve won our last couple of games through character, which is what you need when your backs are against the wall. You can fix up little bits of detail, but you can’t fix character if you don’t have it.”

Ireland have confirmed that Paddy Jackson, the inexperienced Ulster outside-half, is ready to face France in Dublin tomorrow and will start the game as their principal goal-kicker. Jackson, whose international debut against Scotland 12 days ago was something of a mixed bag, picked up a hamstring injury during training at the start of the week but passed a fitness test yesterday.

His direct opponent will be the ever-unfathomable Frédéric Michalak,  recalled to the French starting line-up after being dropped for the trip to Twickenham in the last round of matches. Michalak replaces François Trinh-Duc in the pivot role, and there are also places for Maxime Médard on the left wing and Florian Fritz at centre. Médard, as exhilarating an attacking runner as there is in Europe, replaces Benjamin Fall, while Fritz gets the nod over the outsized Mathieu Bastareaud.

“We need to find an 80-minute performance,” said Philippe Saint-André, the Tricolore coach who has seen his side lose all three games to date. “The role of the France team may be to win and win in style, but right now, in our situation, if we could sign up for a 3-0 victory we would do it straight away. We need lots of appetite, lots of energy. We need to raise our heads and force our destiny.”

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Sport
football
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk