Following defeat to Wales in Round Three, Eddie Jones has rolled the dice by making five changes to his England side – and Italy will already have noted a couple of big differences.
Ben Te’o and Joe Cokanasiga do a lot of things well but it’s their physicality which really stands out and their recall to the backline will quicken the Azzurri pulse.
Add in Te’o’s midfield partner Manu Tuilagi and the trio weigh a combined 54 stone, while the equally powerful Ellis Genge, Joe Launchbury and Brad Shields also start.
After losing in Cardiff, Eddie Jones has decided to mix things up in a bid to get their title quest back on track.
Joe’s got the X-Factor
Few wings generate as much excitement as Joe Cokanasiga and the 21-year-old has already made a giant splash in international rugby.
The Bath flyer made his international debut with a pair of appearances against Japan and Australia in November and scored tries in both.
And, after a brief ten-minute introduction to the rigours of Championship rugby in Cardiff, he is ready to take the next step with Jones in no doubt over what he offers.
“You walk past him some days and go, “This guy’s a mountain”. He’s a good spirit as well. He is a really infectious sort of guy and very coachable,” he said.
“It’s something different for us – over the last four years we have had fairly small backlines.
“We have everyone fit and available and it’s an opportunity to play some big guys together.
Henry Slade has brought a lot to England’s midfield in the Championship, scoring twice in Round One against defending champions Ireland before adding another against France a week later.
But he lacks Te’o’s directness with ball-in-hand and Jones is keen to try new things and utilise all the options at his disposal. His partnership with Tuilagi is sure to command attention.
“We are just looking to add another combination this weekend against Italy,” he said.
“It is a bigger centre combination with Te’o at 12 and Manu at 13, and then Henry Slade will finish the game for us.”
Captain Owen Farrell will direct the play from fly-half and, without the expert distribution of Slade as a second receiver, his importance has certainly increased.
With the likes of Jonny May and Elliot Daly outside him, Farrell has plenty of toys to play with. But it’s the pair next to him which really excites.
“It’s massive – I wouldn’t like to play against it,” Farrell said.
“We need to make sure those boys get in the game.”
Jones backs young front row
With Mako Vunipola out injured and Ben Moon on the bench, young loosehead Ellis Genge is in line for his first Guinness Six Nations start.
The Leicester Tigers ace, 24, will line up in a youthful front row which also includes tighthead Kyle Sinckler, 25.
Jones expects Italy to target the pair but is backing them both to come through unscathed.
“They are street fighters those two boys,” the Australian said. “But they are really both maturing very well. We took both of them to Australia in 2016 as project players.
“We are really pleased with the progress both have been making.”