Lipman looking for form

Michael Lipman will look to transfer his impressive club form on to the international stage when he lines up for England this weekend. [more]

Lions Australia Tour 2013

Michael Lipman will look to transfer his impressive club form on to the international stage when he lines up for England this weekend.

He has arguably been the outstanding number seven during this season’s Guinness Premiership, helping Bath to feature prominently in the title play-off places.

His three previous caps were all gained on foreign soil, against New Zealand in Auckland and Australia in Brisbane during England’s 2004 summer tour, with his only start arriving two years later when England lost 43-18 to the Wallabies in Melbourne.

Had Nick Easter not been declared fit – he has missed Harlequins’ last four Premiership and Heineken Cup games – England’s potential back row in Rome of James Haskell, Lipman and Luke Narraway would have contained just seven caps between them.

Easter, 29, played a pivotal role during England’s unlikely march to the World Cup runners-up spot, starting the vital pool games against Samoa and Tonga, then retaining his place for victories over Australia and France before meeting South Africa in the final.

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Jamie Noon’s tournament was cruelly cut short when he tore a knee ligament during the calamitous 36-0 group defeat against South Africa.

The 27 times-capped centre flew home from Paris within 72 hours of that game and was replaced by his Falcons colleague Toby Flood.

He is a similar player to the stricken Mike Tindall, offering a strong and direct midfield presence.

And England will also need to utilise Lesley Vainikolo’s immense power far more than they did during a tactically-bankrupt display in the second period against Wales.

He was hardly used through the midfield channels, which, given his 17 stone-plus bulk, remains a mystery of Agatha Christie proportions.

Despite the Wales debacle, England will head to Rome as firm favourites, having won on all four previous RBS 6 Nations visits to Stadio Flaminio and racking up just over 46 points a time.

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