Six Nations preview: Italy vs. England -- Eddie Jones honeymoon to continue?

Italy vs. England

Sunday, kick-off: 14:00

Stadio Olimpico, Rome

England travel to Rome on Sunday in a bid to continue Eddie Jones' winning start as England's head coach. Italy are no pushovers, as they proved last week in their narrow defeat to France, but history favours England, who have won all 21 meetings between the sides.

Team news

Italy head coach Jacques Brunel has made just one change to the XV that went so close in Paris during the opening weekend, with Australian-born Luke McLean replacing David Odiete, who suffered a sprained ankle at the Stade de France.

Jones, meanwhile, has promoted Courtney Lawes, Mako Vunipola and Ben Youngs to England's starting XV, with Danny Care and Joes Launchbury and Marler dropping to the bench. Uncapped lock Maro Itoje, widely tipped to start on Sunday, will have to wait to make his debut as he is also named among the replacements.

Italy: McLean, Sarto, Campagnaro, Garcia, Bellini, Canna, Gori, Lovotti, Gega, Cittadini, Biagi, Fuser, Minto, Zanni, Parisse (captain)
Replacements: Giazzon, Zanusso, Castrogiovanni, Bernabo, Steyn, Palazzani, Padovani, Pratichetti

England: Brown, Watson, Joseph, Farrell, Nowell, Ford, Youngs; M Vunipola, Hartley (captain), Cole, Lawes, Kruis, Robshaw, Haskell, B Vunipola
Replacements: George, Marler, Hill, Itoje, Launchbury, Clifford, Care, Goode

Key head-to-head

Carlo Canna was, as noted by ESPN's Tristan Barclay, excellent against France last week and will look to recreate that performance against an England side still finding their way under new leadership. Canna comes up against George Ford, a player struggling to find form for club and country. Also worth keeping an eye on the tussle between Billy Vinupola and Sergio Parisse. Both impressed in their respective opening games and this battle will be key to Sunday's outcome.

Key stats

*Italy's record against England is abysmal. 21 matches, 21 defeats, minus-576 points difference and averaging just 12 points a match.

*Three of the last four meetings between the teams in Rome have been close affairs -- 23-19 in 2008, 17-12 in 2010 and 19-15 in 2012 -- but last time out was a stroll in the sunshine for England, leaving the Stadio Olimpico comfortable 52-11 winners.

*Fourth in England's all-time scoring list, Owen Farrell has added 36 points in the two matches he's faced Italy. In those same games, the Azzurri managed just 28 points between them.

Form guide

Italy: LWLWL
England: WLLWW


Jones' side are heavy favourites with Unibet, who have them at 1/20 to return to England victorious. Fancy an upset? You can get Italy at 10/1 with the same bookmaker. England winger Anthony Watson is a tempting 22/1 to bag a hat trick for the visitors.

Fantasy players to watch

The likes of Watson, Farrell and Jonathan Joseph will be looking to run up big scores in Rome, while Italy's scores are most likely to come from the boot of Canno.


There is little concern of Italy being the team that ends the Jones' honeymoon period with England. The visitors to win, and convincingly.