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.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Life and Style
The Commonwealth flag flies outside Westminster Abbey in central London
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
tvWebsite will allow you to watch all 522 shows on-demand
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor