Paris: With only one Six Nations title since 2003, England should find themselves in pole position if they heed Eddie Jones’ words and give Italy “a good hiding” on Sunday.
Jones made a winning start as England coach when his side produced an effective, if unspectacular, display to defeat Scotland 15-9 at Murrayfield last weekend.
England will expect to beat Italy in Rome with Jones set to make some changes with the Australian wanting more fleet-footed forwards to take the game to the Azzurri.
“We’ll pick the best 23 for Italy, so we could conceivably pick a faster pack,” Jones said when asked whether he would reshuffle a team who gave away several breakdown penalties in the first half against Scotland.
Forwards Mako Vunipola and Courtney Lawes, along with scrumhalf Ben Youngs, are likely to replace Joe Marler, Joe Launchbury and Danny Care when Jones names his team today.
“We want to go to Rome and smack Italy,” said Jones.
Like England, new-look France also made a winning start with a new coach at the helm although they were far from impressive in scraping a 23-21 win at home over Italy.
The French, indepted to Jules Plisson’s late long-range penalty to get them over the line against the Italians, tomorrow host an Ireland side who they have not won against since 2011.
With his own number eight Louis Picamoles ruled out injured, Noves has made six changes as Les Bleus look to tighten their defence against Ireland who beat them 24-9 in the pool phase at the World Cup in October.
“Against Italy we were not up to international standards in defence,” said Noves, who has kept faith in his novice halfback pairing of Sebastien Bezy and Jules Plisson. “Ireland are very good at keeping the ball, they are defence crushers.”
France will look to outspeed the Ireland defence with their talented wingers Virimi Vakatawa and Teddy Thomas. Sevens stalwart Vakatawa scored a try on his debut against Italy while Thomas is back in the team after being dropped last year for disciplinary reasons following a brilliant start.