Six Nations 2012: England’s Stuart Lancaster wary of Italy threat
Interim head coach Stuart Lancaster warns his players that Italy will fancy their chances of beating a new-look England in Rome
Stuart Lancaster has warned England to expect a difficult test against Italy at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.
England, fresh from their 13-6 victory over Scotland in their Six Nations opener at Murrayfield last weekend, have named an unchanged side for the clash in Rome.
And the interim head coach believes Italy will approach the game confident of securing victory over a new-look England side.
“It will be a fantastic occasion in their Olympic stadium,” said Lancaster. “But we must be very respectful of the challenge coming our way.
“Their starting 15 has nearly 700 caps. They’ll definitely see this as a huge opportunity to beat England.
“As we saw last year, they beat France, who went on to lose in the World Cup final. It’s well within their capabilites to beat any Six Nations side.
“So we need to deal with the passion and the emotion which the Italians will bring – their physicality and experience – but we must be able to impose our game on them. We must make sure we go to Rome and play with tempo and pace.”
Lancaster is backing his revamped England side to continue to develop into a strong unit and he is hoping his decision to stick with the same starting line-up which beat Scotland will help speed up the process.
“From our point of view obviously we have a reference point now,” added Lancaster. “We had the Scotland game and it’s given us a real point to work from.
“To have seven different players collect new caps was quite an unqiue experience. We have decided to stick with the same team and the same bench. We want to give this team a chance to jell and a chance to work together.
“Following the weekend we were happy with lots of aspects of the performance. But we still have quite a bit of work to do.”