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RBS 6 Nations: Manu Tuilagi in England matchday squad to face Italy

By The Citizen  |  Posted: March 12, 2014

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Manu Tuilagi will make his first England appearance in a year after being named in the matchday squad for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash with Italy in Rome.

Tuilagi is to be picked on the bench 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.

"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.

England's pack excelled once again against Wales and Sir Clive Woodward is among those to have described the forwards as world class.

Forwards coach Graham Rowntree, however, is reluctant to give them such a tag.

"I know they have not played to the best of their ability yet. I know what more is to come from this group," Rowntree said.

"I won't have them having that label (world class), not yet. They have all got areas to improve on before we can go near calling them that.

"I go back to the word consistency. We have not been close enough to the ceiling of the game they can get to.

"I am not playing anything down. We can see what they can be, but we need them to be up there every week."

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