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VIDEO EXCLUSIVE – Lancaster on five key areas for Italy clash

13 March 2014

  • Lancaster hands RFUtv an exclusive insight 
  • England Head Coach happy with selection consistency

After naming his match-day 23, Stuart Lancaster spoke exclusively to RFUtv about five pivotal areas that came into his thinking before the RBS 6 Nations clash against Italy.

Manu Tuilagi onto the bench

Manu Tuilagi

Photo: Getty Images

He’s just had more time with us. He hadn’t trained with us since the Wales game last year so he’d come into the camp on the back of a Sunday game for Leicester against Newcastle and we had Wales on the Saturday. Getting up to speed with our systems and structures took time.

We didn’t feel it was right to put him straight back in when he wasn’t ready. Towards the end of the week he demonstrated that he was.

I don’t think he’s going to come on a score four tries and if the centre combination is working well, it might be that he’s on the wing and we give him a different role. The starting 15 have done extremely well. If we feel in the second half that it’s the right call to bring Manu on, we’ll do that. But only if it’s right for the team.

‘Earning the right’ to beat Italy

If you look at the last seven games Italy have played at home, there are very few where someone has managed to beat them by 20 points. Last year they beat France, while Ireland and Wales found it tough before eventually winning. They’re difficult to beat and if we go with the mindset of throwing it around and scoring tries, we’ll get undone.

We’ve got to take points when they’re on offer and build a scoreline, but win the game first and foremost. It’d be incredibly disrespectful – and suicidal – to go over there thinking you are going to smash them by 50. I’ve not seen anyone do that in Italy, even the All Blacks in 2012.

Ben Morgan’s performance against Wales

Ben Morgan

Photo: Getty Images

The competition for places in every position is intense. Everywhere we have very good players who are either not in the squad or are sat on the bench. The most pleasing thing about Ben’s performance was his ability to play for the full 80.

He’s worked hard on his conditioning over the past six or seven weeks and is in good shape. He stood up well to the demands of that game and should be set for another long stint on Saturday.

Consistency in selection

It’s a strength and does give you that confidence. On the other hand you probably don’t see as many options as you’d like, but that’s just the way the cards have fallen in this particular tournament. It’s hard to change a team that’s played so well, even if we do have good players waiting patiently.

Luther Burrell

Photo: Getty Images

We have the New Zealand tour and will have to go into the first Test without a lot of players because of the Aviva Premiership final, so there will be chances.

Inexperienced players stepping up

They’ve been brilliant really. I’m looking down at the number of caps for our individual players and they’re nowhere near double figures in some cases. We need to make sure we don’t take our eye off the ball heading into this game. We’ve got to peak and peak again – the trick to being a world-class player is consistency.

The Rugby World Cup is won by doing well in seven games in seven weeks. It doesn’t matter whether they have three caps or 53 caps – they’re all under pressure to perform this weekend.