England coach Stuart Lancaster has ruled out making wholesale changes for Sunday's clash against Italy at Twickenham.
England coach Stuart Lancaster has ruled out making wholesale changes for Sunday's clash against Italy at Twickenham but has suggested he will give a few replacements a chance to start.
Toby Flood, Danny Care, Billy Twelvetrees, Mako Vunipola and his brother Billy are all candidates for a starting berth as the England coach looks inject some freshness into his team ahead of the potential Grand Slam decider in Cardiff a week later.
“I wouldn't want to make wholesale changes going into Italy because I think combinations working and learning together on the field is the important part of it as well,” Lancaster told the Telegraph.
“One or two people are suggesting let's make seven, eight, nine or ten changes and bring in a whole load of people who are playing well in the Premiership. I think that would be hugely disrespectful to Italy and definitely the route we will not go down.
“I think there is a difference between that and freshening the side up with players of equal quality who have sat on the bench and waited patiently.”
Lancaster explained that it was important to strike a balance between the need for immediate results and building for the 2015 World Cup.
“I have always had to balance the needs of winning in the here and now and developing a team for the future and I don't think my mindset is any different now going into these last two games,” he added.
“I think it is important to win in the here and now. It does build confidence and builds space for the team to grow. But equally I have never been dominated by it so I have always had one eye on the big picture and think about where we are going.
“But now we are going to the Italy game, it is not a case of experimentation in order to grow a team and bring young players in for 2015. It is actually about giving the right group of players that we think we have got now more experience over the next two games.”