Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 1 November 2014

Six Nations: England must be willing to win ugly

Tom Palmer was yesterday hailed as the complete modern-day forward and a key figure in England's plans to rule the rugby world.

The compliment was paid by England forwards coach John Wells as he reviewed Palmer's contribution to Friday's opening RBS Six Nations victory over Wales and looked ahead to the forthcoming clash with Italy.

Wells warned England will have to be prepared to 'win ugly' against the Azzurri and he is confident they have the physicality to do so, having been taught a lesson in that department by South Africa in the autumn.

But England will be looking to subdue the Italians with the more dynamic, all-court rugby they have been developing over the last 12 months — and Palmer is right at the heart of it.

The 31-year-old returned to the England team after manager Martin Johnson was forced into a radical rethink by some dismal performances in last year's Six Nations.

Since then, England have risen to fourth in the world, beaten Australia home and away and Wales in Cardiff.

“He is near enough the complete forward for the modern game,” Wells said.

“We are looking to develop an all-round game and not just put together a pack of forwards that is comfortable going through the middle.

“We want to put tempo on the ball and try to get it into the wider spaces. We need forwards of that mobility to play the game we want and Tom falls into that category.

“Courtney Lawes has also come through and both guys bring something different in terms of their ball-carrying and ability in the wide channels. All that produces an extra threat to the opposition.”

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