Lewis Moody: England must put aside thoughts of Wales and focus on Six Nations job against Italy

Moody Views: Courtney Lawes was not suited to No 6. The long-term solution lies in Tom Croft

We know there will be changes for England's game against Italy on Sunday and we know Courtney Lawes will not be playing in the No 6 jersey. Unfortunately, fielding the big man there against France was an experiment that did not work out.

Long term, the No 6 solution lies with Tom Croft. Whether or not he makes it on to the pitch for any of this Six Nations campaign – and Leicester and England deserve credit for the way they have allowed him a gradual return – he is the ideal man to wear that number and it is great to see him back in the frame.

He is an athlete, incredibly quick, a great line-out asset, a great ball player, a worker. He doesn't always do the nitty-gritty rucking and mauling but he is one of those guys you simply have to have in the team. If you are in any doubt as to what he can do around the field replay that try he ran in against France last year. He has the ability to change the course of a game and there are not many No 6s you can say that about.

I feel for Lawes. I thought trying him on the flank was a bad idea from the start. At club level you can get by at six as a second-rower – Louis Deacon did it at Leicester – but when you get to the international stage it's a different kettle of fish. You have to be absolutely spot on – there is no margin for error. Courtney did as well as his abilities in the position allowed but he was ultimately responsible for the French try in being caught out by Wesley Fofana and missing that crucial first tackle.

To be fair to the coach, Stuart Lancaster, there was an acceptance that this was one experiment that wasn't working and off Lawes went early in the second half. The realisation was that in a tight game you needed a specialist back-rower in there. It is not Lawes' best position – he should be allowed to focus on becoming a world-class lock and if he is given that opportunity he has the ability to do that. There is no point trying to make him an average No 6.

In the build-up to Sunday's game at Twickenham don't expect to hear a single mention of the word "Wales". Everyone will be toeing the party line: it's all about Italy. Of course, there is a game to be won first; this Italy side have improved and, with some intelligent, experienced forwards like Martin Castrogiovanni, will need to be worn down. But, inside, every England player will be well aware this is a game they are going to win, which means they will take the field at the Millennium Stadium with the opportunity to take a Grand Slam, and that doesn't come along too often.

In the back of their minds – certainly among those guys rested for this weekend – they will already be reviewing Wales. For the guys who come in against Italy – Toby Flood, possibly Danny Care, possibly Billy Twelvetrees, maybe David Strettle – it is the opportunity to push a claim for next weekend. Lancaster likes to say the shirt is yours to lose, so if you play well against Italy then you are making a case to start against Wales.

Sometimes one injury can make all the difference – look at Ben Foden. He was playing extraordinarily well then got injured and along come Alex Goode and Mike Brown, and now he's not even in the squad. That's how cut-throat international rugby is.

I see England winning by 25 points. It is important for them to keep the momentum going, get a good score and show everyone that the progress continues. The first 25 minutes will be a challenge and will probably see a few penalties traded, but then England should start to break down the Italians with their runners and the intelligence with which they have been playing under Lancaster.

It will be much closer at Murrayfield. I am not expecting an epic contest but I see Wales having enough to win and set up the match in Cardiff next weekend. The Scots, off the back of those two home wins, will have massive confidence – they are always better at home. But Wales have too much firepower in the backs. If they get their kicking game right they will beat Scotland. It will be close. I take Wales by seven points.

Which leaves Ireland against France in a possible wooden-spoon decider, and that is not something you could ever have expected. This is almost an impossible one to call but I will go for France. If they don't win, for a team of such quality to end up with the wooden spoon would be unbelievable – and almost amusing for an Englishman.

Lewis Moody is a TAG Heuer ambassador

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence