England plan to use Manu Tuilagi as ‘wrecking ball’ against Italy

Wales fear Gethin Jenkins has become a ‘marked man’ in Test rugby

Leicester’s Manu Tuilagi has been recalled to the matchday 23 for England’s Six Nations finale against Italy in Rome. Photograph:  David Rogers/Getty Images.

Leicester’s Manu Tuilagi has been recalled to the matchday 23 for England’s Six Nations finale against Italy in Rome. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images.


England are hoping to use Manu Tuilagi as a “wrecking ball” as they go in search of a convincing Six Nations victory over Italy in Rome on Saturday. The Leicester centre has been recalled to the matchday 23 for the final round of the championship and will take the place of Saracens’ Alex Goode on the replacements’ bench.

Stuart Lancaster’s side require either a high-scoring victory or a France win over Ireland in Paris if they are to win the title and Tuilagi’s recall is designed to put pressure on a tiring Italy defence during the second-half. “He can be a wrecking ball for us,” said the forwards coach, Graham Rowntree.

“He has been outstanding in training and we felt that now was right to bring him back in. He has had a bit more training time and we are happy with what we’ve seen.”

Tuilagi, who has played only one club game since recovering from surgery on a torn pectoral muscle, will cover both centre and wing, with either Jack Nowell or Jonny May dropping back to full-back if Mike Brown is injured. Lancaster intends to name the starting XV who beat Wales 29-18 as England seek a fourth successive win.

Rowntree is adamant England will not throw caution to the winds prematurely, having beaten Italy by only seven and four points respectively in their last two Six Nations meetings.

“We are going out there to win the game first,” he said. “Not many sides have gone over there and smashed them. We’ve scored only one try in two games against them ... that shows you what they’re like.”

Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde fears that prop Gethin Jenkins might have become “a marked man” in Test match rugby.

Jenkins was sin-binned for the second successive RBS Six Nations game on Sunday when Wales’ title hopes were destroyed by England at Twickenham.

As when he received a yellow card in the France Test two weeks earlier, 104 times-capped Jenkins looked bewildered that he had been punished for a perceived scrummaging offence.

And McBryde has now gone into bat for the 33-year-old, while also revealing that Wales will contact Twickenham match official Romain Poite and International Rugby Board referees’ chief Joel Jutge for “clarity” over the scrums.

“My concern is that Gethin is a marked man and that there is a preconception out there with him,” McBryde said.

“He is vastly experienced and been there with the (British and Irish) Lions and Wales.

“We feel we have a dominant scrum, and if you come up against one you will try every ploy in the book to negate the advantage the opposition have. “We only had two scrums on our ball. We got a penalty from the first – clearly dominant – and the second we cleared our lines off a solid foundation.

“My concern is that we are falling foul because of a perception out there.

“Things we focused on going into the game, with good dialogue from Joel Jutge, were stability when the packs come together and not pushing through the mark. We did that to the best of our ability, and it takes two sides to agree to that.”

Ulster backrow forward, Nick Williams, has returned to training following the conclusion of an internal disciplinary process. Williams missed Ulster’s Pro 12 match against Treviso two weeks ago. It is believed the player was in New Zealand and did not have permission from Ulster to make the journey home.