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Azzurri could chuck anything at us, says George Kruis


Impressed: England’s George Kruis has a lot of respect for Italy
Impressed: England’s George Kruis has a lot of respect for Italy

By Duncan Bech

England lock George Kruis has joined Eddie Jones in taking aim at Italy ahead of today's Guinness Six Nations clash at Twickenham.

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Jones said that the Azzurri can be a gifted team if their head coach Conor O'Shea takes a positive approach - a reference to the controversial no-ruck tactics employed by the Irishman at the same venue two years ago.

It is a view echoed by Kruis, who forms a second-row partnership alongside Joe Launchbury after Maro Itoje was ruled out by forwards coach Steve Borthwick because of a knee injury.

"If Conor lets them play then they can play and produce some magic out the back. We're prepared for that and we're not underestimating them," Kruis said.

"They've put on some pretty good performances in this Six Nations and we know they could chuck anything at us - like they have done previously.

"They're unpredictable and can play in different styles. With Italy you've got to expect anything and that's exactly what we're thinking about."

Jones on Thursday raised the possibility of Maro Itoje being restored to England's matchday 23 if he made rapid progress in his recovery from ligament damage, but the hope now is that he becomes available for Scotland.

"Maro is not fit for this weekend, but he's recovering really well. He progresses every day. Everyone else is fully fit," Borthwick said.

"We're really excited about this game. Italy have played very well over the last couple of matches.

"Look at how they played for part of the game against Scotland and against Ireland - it shows they're a good team."

Meanwhile, Italy head coach Conor O'Shea is backing Kyle Sinckler to become a legend of the English game.

Sinckler has been a force of nature so far in the Six Nations despite ongoing concerns over a short fuse that has been evident in flashes, most notably in the defeat to Wales in Cardiff.

O'Shea oversaw the 25-year-old prop's early development as Harlequins director of rugby and from the start of the Eddie Jones reign he was urging the Australian to select a unique talent.

"Eddie came to Quins in the first week he was in the job and asked 'is there anyone we are missing?' I said, 'Sink'," O'Shea revealed ahead of today's showdown at Twickenham.

"He is explosive, he has got the lot. For all the players we had at Quins - Chris Robshaw, Mike Brown etc - I said 'Eddie, the man is Sink'.

"Sink wasn't starting every week and he was frustrated with me. He was someone I shared a lot of one on ones with at Quins.

"The kid is special."

England vs Italy

Guinness Six Nations:

Twickenham, Today, 4.45pm

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