Nathan Hughes remains unbeaten in this year’s Guinness 6 Nations having not featured for England in their loss to Wales.
With no Itoje or Lawes available this week, Hughes spoke to RugbyPass about covering lock as well as number eight as one of Jones’ finishers.
Hughes joked, “I hope that’s not the future! I’ve played lock in the past in Auckland and stuff.
“Wherever I’m needed in the team, I’ll go and pack it down. This week it looks like I’m covering lock and eight, so if I’m needed at lock in the game, then I’ll pack it down. They’ve been saying I’m a scrummager lock not a jumping lock, so I’m happy to take that option.”
He said, “We know Parisse, he’s a big go-forward person for them. When he plays well, Italy plays well. You never know with Italy what they’re going to bring. Conor’s got lots of things up his sleeve so we’ve just got to expect anything from them and deal with it in the game.”
Hughes continued, “Italy’s been playing some good rugby this 6 Nations. Credit to them, they’re putting their hands up. What we’ve got to do is shock them in the first minute, we’ve got to go out there and start really well. If we start well, we can continue from there.”
Jones had recalled former England captain Chris Robshaw to the wider training squad this week but opted to do away with his 66-caps of experience, opting instead for Brad Shields alongside Tom Curry, who have 14 caps between them.
Hughes commented, “Brad’s experienced enough, he’s played a lot of rugby himself – Super Rugby and stuff like that, I think he’ll go really well. Tom Curry, he’s just a young kid that’s got a lot of energy and is just ready to do anything that’s told to him. And Billy’s Billy! Give him the ball, he’ll give you go-forward and people who are running against him, he’ll just put them down.”
England’s forwards were tested during the fortnight against Georgia, whose scrum is coached by former England assistant coach Graham Rowntree.
Hughes said of the pack, “They stood up to the challenge. Georgia count themselves as having a strong set piece and big heavy pack. Credit to our boys, we stuck together as a unit and it made us grow together as a unit – stronger. Last week leading into this week, we can see and sense that vibe that everyone’s together as a unit.”
Hughes will earn his 21st cap for England if he comes off the bench on Saturday for the 4.45pm kick off at Twickenham.
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