Thompson ready for Italy

England hooker Steve Thompson has predicted an 80-minute battle against Italy on Saturday when the world champions target their first RBS 6 Nations Championship away win in two years. [more]

Lions Australia Tour 2013

England hooker Steve Thompson has predicted an 80-minute battle against Italy on Saturday when the world champions target their first RBS 6 Nations Championship away win in two years.

After recording a 47-13 win against reigning RBS 6 Nations champions Wales at Twickenham last Saturday, England have put themselves in pole position to launch a major challenge on this season’s title.

But Italy, judging by their resilient display against Ireland in Dublin last Saturday, are made of sterner stuff under their French coach Pierre Berbizier than in previous years, and their improvement has not been lost on Thompson.

"They are big men up front," the British & Irish Lion said. "Sometimes, they might get themselves in the wrong place, but I think their philosophy is even if in the wrong place they are still going to hit you.

"They will smash in, and that is the way they are. It doesn’t matter what the score might be or what time it is in the game, they are going to carry on going at you.

Google Ad Manager – In Article

"I believe Italy are much more organised now – they are an 80-minute team – and we won’t find the gaps and holes that we have done in previous years."

Despite Thompson’s caution, England should still possess sufficient ammunition to reel off a second successive RBS 6 Nations victory and send them to Scotland in a fortnight with their Grand Slam dream still very much alive.

"We have got big expectations of ourselves," said 27-year-old Thompson.

"But we know Italy are going to be better this week than they were last Saturday, given they are playing at home and with the disappointment on their shoulders of losing."

The Italy clash begins a run of three successive away fixtures, with Thompson and company also tackling Scotland at Murrayfield before facing what was billed pre-tournament as a potential title decider against France in Paris.

"You have a different mindset when you are away from home," said Robinson.

"But our focus is on ourselves and we have prepared accordingly. We expect marching bands to march through our warm-up, and we expect the opposition to come out late and keep us waiting.

"We expect all sorts of fun when we are away, but it is not a problem, you just have to be on the ball and aware."

The stage is set for a ferocious contest up front, and Robinson is particularly relishing a potentially shuddering scrum battle.

"When you have got two teams who wants to scrummage, it makes for a great contest," he added.

"You pay due respects to Italy, but we have to concentrate on ourselves and what we are about.

"If we are aggressive and keep hold of the ball, then I believe we will go through to win, but if we make errors, struggle at set-pieces and give too many penalties away then it is going to be very difficult to win the game."

Previous story Williams: It’s not over yet warns
Next story Williams: We’re no one-season wonders
Download