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Italy v England
Lancaster: Kick-off time irrelevant
ESPN Staff
March 14, 2014
Stuart Lancaster could lead England to Six Nations glory on Saturday © Getty Images

Stuart Lancaster has dismissed ideas that Saturday's staggered kick-off times put his England side at a disadvantage on the final day of the Six Nations.

England, Ireland and France all go into the last weekend challenging for the title, which is likely to be decided on points difference. However, in a bid to maximise TV viewing figures, England kick-off against Italy at 12.30pm, while Ireland do not take on France until 5pm.

Ireland and France therefore, will meet knowing what is required to take the Six Nations crown. But Lancaster has refused to complain. He said: "It's not something I've thought about. The current contract is in place to 2017 and it really isn't a factor for us.

"It's irrelevant whether we kick off at the same time or later. We've still got to do a job. We've still got to play well. I don't think it affects the outcome of a game knowing what you need to do - I don't think players or coaches think that way.

"You're that concentrated on your own detail, your own preparation, that you barely even cast an eye at the scoreline. There have been games played during this tournament which have been on TV while we've been warming up. As a coach I've barely cast an eye on it, never mind a player who's getting warmed up."

England will welcome back Manu Tuilagi, who is ready to release six months of frustration upon the Italians after sitting out most of the season with a pectoral injury. The centre takes his place on the bench, with Alex Goode dropping out of the match-day squad.

Tuilagi said: "It's been a tough time and I've certainly missed the game. You just want to be out there, especially with the way the boys are playing. You want to be part of the team, so getting back in is great.

"If I get the opportunity to come off the bench I'll hopefully bring my normal game."

With Billy Twelvetrees and Luther Burrell forging a strong centre partnership, Stuart Lancaster has hinted Tuilagi could be deployed on the wing in Rome.

Lancaster said: "We'll wait and see how the game goes. He's trained on the wing as well as in the centre. He knows the calls and the plays. It has been good to run him on the wing because that is where he played age-grade rugby."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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