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Six Nations: Tuilagi returns to England bench for Italy clash

| 13.03.2014

England have named an unchanged starting XV for their final Six Nations clash with Italy but Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi returns from injury to take a place on the replacements bench.

Stuart Lancaster’s men must win in Rome if they are to have any chance of lifting the Six Nations title, on at 11/10 with Ladbrokes.

Ireland are the favourites for the title at 4/5 but must beat France and then hope England, who are as short as 1/33 for victory at the Stadio Olimpico, do not rack up a monster score against the Italians.

England, who kept alive their chances of a first Championship since 2011 with a 29-18 victory over Wales, will be hoping for a France win but Lancaster insists his side are focused on the Italian job in hand.

“It’s great to be able to name an unchanged XV and we have been able to achieve consistency of selection,” England’s head coach said.

“The Wales result was very significant for us but we need to finish the tournament well in Rome.”

Tuilagi has played 70 minutes for Leicester since recovering from a chest injury and his return is a welcome boost to the England ranks.

The Samoan-born star has 21 England caps to his name and has already amassed 50 points during his international career.

And if Ireland beat France in Paris Lancaster’s charges will need to overhaul their superior points difference and the 22-year-old’s presence could help to do just that in the latter stages against Italy.

Luther Burrell has been impressive for England throughout the competition in the 13 shirt with three tries from his first four international caps and rightly keeps the jersey.

But 6ft 1in, 18-stone back Tuilagi, who can also play on the wing, can provide the English with real impetus from the bench as they go in search of the Six Nations trophy to add to their Triple Crown success.

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Oliver Yew