RBS Six Nations

England v Italy: Everything you need to know

England will start as strong favourites to continue their winning run and a charge towards a second successive Six Nations grand slam when they host Italy on Sunday.

Eddie Jones' side come into the clash at Twickenham on a run of 16 consecutive wins - although the first of those was earned under predecessor Stuart Lancaster.

And their head-to-head record with the Azzurri points towards a home victory - England have triumphed in all 22 of their meetings with Italy.

Jones makes four changes from the narrow win over Wales in Cardiff a fortnight ago, including Ben Te'o gaining his first start at centre in place of Jonathan Joseph - who scored a hat-trick the last time these two sides met.

Italy have lost heavily at home to Wales and Ireland in their opening two fixtures, leading some to question the wisdom of their continued participation in the competition.

Like opposite number Jones, head coach Conor O'Shea has also made four changes as the Azzurri look to upset the odds and avoid a 10th straight Six Nations defeat.

HEAD TO HEAD

England: 22
Italy: 0
Draw: 0

 

WHAT HAPPENED IN 2016?

England overcame a sluggish first-half showing to prevail 40-9 in Rome. The visitors only led 11-9 at the break, but Joseph's hat-trick and Owen Farrell's try added to George Ford's score in the opening period.

 

KEY PLAYERS

Ben Te'o (England)

Te'o came off the bench to score a late match-winning try against France in England's opener. The Worcester Warriors centre is given the chance to impress from the start this time, and his partnership with Farrell in the midfield, where Joseph has been a shining light, could be pivotal to create the space England may need if they are targeting their first winning bonus point of the campaign.

Tommaso Allan (Italy)

One of the four Italy changes, replacing Carlo Canno at fly-half. It will be Allan's first start at 10 for the Azzurri since a clash with Canada in June and if Italy are to have any chance of causing an upset, he will have to be accurate from the tee to punish any English ill-discipline.

 

THE LINE-UPS

England: Mike Brown, Jonny May, Ben Te'o, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly, George Ford, Danny Care; Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley (captain), Dan Cole, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Maro Itoje, James Haskell, Nathan Hughes.

Italy: Edoardo Padovani, Giulio Bisegni, Michele Campagnaro, Luke McLean, Giovanbattista Venditti, Tommaso Allan, Edoardo Gori; Andrea Lovotti, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Lorenzo Cittadini, Marco Fuser, Dries Van Schalkwyk, Abraham Steyn, Simone Favaro, Sergio Parisse (captain).

COACH COMMENTS

Eddie Jones (England): "There was never any doubt Dylan [Hartley] was going to be captain and never any doubt he was going to start. Obviously Jamie [George] is disappointed, because he wants the spot. And at some stage he will get it. Dylan can't play until he's 50."

Conor O'Shea (Italy): "We're going into our Colosseum this weekend. Everybody is having a pop. People look for cheap and easy headlines. I would question whether some actually believe it but the world in which we live has no grey areas, only black and white. We know that."



OPTA STATS

- England have conceded an average of just three first half points across their last seven home games against Italy.
- England are looking for a 10th consecutive Six Nations win, which would equal the tournament record set by them twice before (1882 to 1886 and 1922 to 1925).
- Italy have lost 40 of their 43 previous away games in the Six Nations (W2, D1), with those two wins both coming at Murrayfield (draw v Wales in 2006).
- England are only two shy of becoming the first team to score 250 Six Nations tries, while their five tries per game against Italy are their most against any Six Nations opponent.