Bench role for Tuilagi

Bench role for Tuilagi

England's Manu Tuilagi is set to be on the bench against Italy

England's Manu Tuilagi is set to be on the bench against Italy

First published in National Sport News © by

England are to name Manu Tuilagi on the bench for their final match of the RBS 6 Nations against Italy after including him in their matchday squad for Rome.

Tuilagi has been recalled at the expense of Alex Goode following his recovery from the torn pectoral muscle that kept him sidelined for six months.

The 22-year-old has played just 70 minutes for his club Leicester since returning to fitness, but head coach Stuart Lancaster believes he is ready for the Stadio Olimpico points grab.

It will be his first appearance for England since last season's Six Nations defeat by Wales in Cardiff, that crushed the visiting team's title hopes.

"Manu trained well with us last week and is up to speed with the way we want to play," Lancaster said.

"Alex has done well for us off the bench and is naturally disappointed, but we believe Manu, with the power and physicality he can bring, is the right choice to be included in the 23 for this game."

While Goode's demotion from the replacements bench is a tough call on the Saracens full-back, Lancaster deems it necessary to bring as much firepower to bear on Italy as possible.

If England win in Rome, the title will be decided by points difference with either Ireland or France - who clash in Paris - also competing for the crown.

It will be hoped Tuilagi's arrival will assist in producing the deluge of tries needed to overhaul Ireland, who enter the final day of the Championship 49 points ahead of the Red Rose.

Tuilagi could have been fast-tracked into Sunday's 29-18 victory over Wales, but Lancaster wanted him to give him another week in camp before plunging him into action.

Lancaster is reluctant to change the starting XV that has excelled in victory against Ireland and Wales - Ben Morgan replacing Billy Vunipola at number eight was injury-enforced - so Tuilagi must settle for a spot among the replacements.

The British and Irish Lions wrecking ball can cover centre or wing, with starting wings Jack Nowell and Jonny May offering cover to Mike Brown at full-back.

Billy Twelvetrees and Luther Burrell have forged a formidable midfield partnership in Tuilagi's absence, making it near-impossible for him to regain the number 13 jersey in this Six Nations.

And the strong form of Nowell and May, playing in their first Six Nations, also prevented his omission from the starting XV.

"Every member of the squad has contributed over the last seven weeks and those not involved in Rome deserve massive credit for the way they have trained and pushed hard for places," Lancaster said.

"There will be opportunities down the line, not least on the June tour to New Zealand, and they can further stake their claims for that trip with strong performances for their clubs."

Wasps prop Matt Mullan and Bath centre Kyle Eastmond will travel with the squad to Rome as 24th and 25th men.

England matchday 23 to face Italy at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday:

Forwards (13): D Attwood (Bath Rugby), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), T Johnson (Exeter Chiefs), J Launchbury (London Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton Saints), J Marler (Harlequins), B Morgan (Gloucester Rugby), C Robshaw (Harlequins), H Thomas (Sale Sharks), M Vunipola (Saracens), D Wilson (Bath Rugby), T Wood (Northampton Saints), T Youngs (Leicester Tigers).

Backs (10): M Brown (Harlequins), L Burrell (Northampton Saints), D Care (Harlequins), L Dickson (Northampton Saints), O Farrell (Saracens), G Ford (Bath Rugby), M Tuilagi, J May (Gloucester Rugby), J Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), B Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby).

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