Six Nations: Dan Cole warns Italy to expect big performance from England scrum

England host Italy at Twickenham this weekend

Dan Cole has warned Italy that England's underperforming scrum is building towards a big performance in Sunday's RBS 6 Nations showdown at Twickenham.

Unusually for a nation with such a strong set piece tradition, England are on the Grand Slam trail in spite of their scrum and lineout.

England lost the scrummaging battles against both Ireland and France while the red rose lineout has not been a well-oiled machine so far in the RBS 6 Nations championship.

The seat of Italy's power lies up front and Cole knows England must improve if they are to douse the Azzurri fires.

"We haven't played a complete game as a forward pack, especially in the scrums," Cole said.

"Against the French the back five probably pushed the best they've done so far but we had issues in the front-row.

"Against Ireland the front-row were fairly settled but the back five weren't.

"We need to be more mentally alert. At some point, and hopefully this weekend, I think there is going to be an 80-minute set-piece with everyone doing what needs to be done.

"Potentially we're very good but potential means nothing if we're not doing things as well as we can.

"Italy pride themselves on their set-piece and they'll come to Twickenham wanting to hurt us there. We've got to be ready for that and better than them."

Cole was surprised to see Italy's pack dominated by Wales in Rome two weekends ago and he expects an Azzurri backlash, led by his Leicester club-mate Martin Castrogiovanni.

"Italy will look at that game, as we will at our French game, and try and make improvements," Cole said.

"Their focus will be on their scrum. They'll see our struggles against France and try and target us there."

Cole has come in for some criticism for his performances against the Irish loosehead Cian Healey and the French prop Thomas Domingo, who he rates as his toughest opponent.

For all the plaudits he has received for his work at the breakdown, Cole understands his bread and butter is scrummaging and he is determined to get that right.

"The scrum is what you look after and if I'm going backwards in the scrum it doesn't matter - whatever I'm doing round the field, I won't be in the team," he said.

"You've got to get that right but you can't do it yourself. It's that ability to get everyone focused on one job and operating at 100%."

Cole and Castrogiovanni have battled for the Leicester tighthead jersey for the last five years and there will be a few pleasantries exchanged after kick-off.

"You're going against clubmates, guys you're seeing day in day out and that can add to the excitement of the affair in terms of banter," Cole said.

"You've got deal with them every day so you want to be the one who wins. There might be (a bit of sledging), at the back of a lineout if we can catch our breath for long enough!"

PA

Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
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

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders