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Jacques Brunel tells Italy to make it close with England on Sunday

Published 12/02/2016

Former Sale fly-half Luke McLean will line up for Italy when England visit Rome on Sunday
Former Sale fly-half Luke McLean will line up for Italy when England visit Rome on Sunday

Italy head coach Jacques Brunel has challenged his team to stay in touch with England in Sunday's Stadio Olimpico clash and go for glory in the final 10 minutes.

After suffering a narrow defeat to France in Paris last weekend, Italy are preparing for a typically English performance in Rome, regardless of the influence of the visitors' new Australian coach Eddie Jones.

While the Azzurri were edged out 23-21 at the Stade de France, England were 15-9 winners against Scotland in Edinburgh.

Brunel has made one change ahead of the RBS 6 Nations tussle, with fly-half Luke McLean replacing the injured David Odiete. Lock George Biagi has recovered from a thigh injury and will start.

Brunel said: "We have never beaten England and on Sunday we don't start as favourites. But our challenge, our ambition, must be to stay in touch on the scoreboard for 70 minutes. If we do that, anything could happen.

"The ambition that we showed in Paris, the desire to impose our game on the opposition, is the same we have always tried to show. Sometimes we have succeeded, sometimes not, but the desire has never been lacking.

"England have changed their coach but the way they play is typical of the Red Rose XV, very direct and based on the physicality of their forwards.

"It's a pretty clear game, which England rely on when they can't impose themselves as they would like: they are not like France, who you can instil doubt in."

He added, according to the Italian federation website: "Compared to the past they have three-quarters with better quality who are all very dangerous.

"They are very, very tough opposition but if we stay close to them on the score maybe things could be different to the past."

Two potential debutants - Treviso flanker Abraham Steyn and Zebre fly-half Edoardo Padovani - are among Italy's replacements.

Treviso centre Andrea Pratichetti, whose sole Azzurri appearance came against Canada in 2012, is also on the bench.

Italy team to face England in Rome on Sunday: L McLean (Treviso), L Sarto (Zebre), M Campagnaro (Exeter), G Garcia (Zebre), M Bellini (Padova), C Canna (Zebre), E Gori (Treviso), A Lovotti (Zebre), O Gega (Treviso), L Cittadini (Wasps), G Biagi (Zebre), M Fuser, F Minto, A Zanni (all Treviso), S Parisse (Stade Francais).

Replacements: D Giazzon, M Zanusso (both Treviso), M Castrogiovanni (Racing 92), V Bernabo, A Steyn (both Treviso), G Palazzani, E Padovani (both Zebre), A Pratichetti (Treviso).

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