'England desperately need a good performance'
England made a poor start to the Guinness Six Nations on Saturday as they fell to Scotland in the Calcutta Cup, meaning it is now three years in a row that they have failed to win in the opening round of the Championship. Eddie Jones will now want his side to make a statement in Rome this weekend.
Despite showing promise in the first half at the Stade de France on Sunday, Italy also registered another loss, which extended their winless run in the Six Nations to 33 matches.
When, where and how to watch the match
The match will kick-off at 15:00 (UK) on Sunday February 13th at the Stadio Olimpico and will be broadcast live on ITV in the UK, Virgin Media in Ireland, Stan Sport in Australia and SuperSport in South Africa.
England remain the only side in the Six Nations to have an unblemished record against the Azzurri, winning every one of their 28 matches dating back to 1991. The average score of their last ten meetings is 41-10.
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Former England fly-half Danny Cipriani picked the bones of the Calcutta Cup in The Daily Mail this week, questioning some of Jones’ decisions and imploring the Australian puts more trust in his fly-half Marcus Smith.
“Going into the Italy game, Jones has to get behind Smith and show him full support,” the 16-cap Englishman wrote.
“I’ve seen him play different mind games with different players in the England environment. Some have come off and some have backfired. That’s just Eddie’s way, but No 10 is too important a position for mind games and Jones knows that.
“From what I’ve seen, he doesn’t mess about with his key men. He obviously trusts Smith to a certain degree because he has picked him to start.
“I’m sure George Ford will provide a good sounding board. Those guys can learn from each other. Ford has been pushing Smith close with his form in the Premiership this year but Smith has credit in the bank from his excellent autumn series.
“Now is not the time to back out. If anything, you’ve got to double up, give him time in the shirt and shape the way you play to suit his game. When you look at the way rugby is going, there’s a lot of conservatism in the way the game is played.”
The Bath No.10 said he would tinker with the midfield combination of Henry Slade and Elliot Daly this weekend by switching Smith’s Harlequins teammate Joe Marchant to outside centre after starting on the wing at Murrayfield, saying “Italy is a chance for them to flourish — and England desperately need a good performance.”
*Odds accurate as of 08/02/22.
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