Eddie Jones insists England must be “absolutely brutal” in their pursuit of leaving no Italian player standing by the end of tomorrow’s RBS 6 Nations showdown at the Stadio Olimpico.
The Red Rose are seeking to build on the 15-9 victory over Scotland that launched Jones’s reign, but have discovered Rome to be a troublesome destination in recent times.
Pre-dating their 41-point rout in the Italian capital two years ago, England won the previous three matches by five points or fewer to place an unblemished record between the nations in serious jeopardy.
Head coach Jones stated after Scotland had been dispatched that he wanted to give Sergio Parisse’s men a “good hiding” and at Friday’s team announcement he offered some detail behind the ambition.
“We want to make the opposition fear us and we want to be disciplined. That means a dominant set-piece, strangulating defence and the ability to be ruthless in attack,” Jones said.
“We want to be absolutely brutal up front so there is no Italian player left standing at the end of the game.
“Then we want to be ruthless in taking opportunities – that’s what we’re aiming for. It doesn’t matter if it’s realistic, that’s our aim and that’s how I want the players to think.
“I want our players to be confident. I don’t want them to be delusional but I want them to be confident.
“If you look at our team on paper and the Italian team on paper, we’re a better team and therefore we should put on a better performance.
“If you look historically - 2008-2010-2012 - the winning margin being five points, that’s under-performance.
“The last time England went to Italy they put some points on them. Now that’s all up here (in the head), it’s got nothing to do with anything else, so that’s the thing we’ve got to get right. And I’m confident the players have got that right.”
England may never have lost to Italy, but Jones still refuses to view the second round of the Championship as a banana skin.
“This is the first time we’ve been to Rome because we have no history as a team, so we don’t have to worry about what has happened in the past,” Jones said.
“We go there knowing we have a job to do and we have to just go out there and play. If you look at the rankings we’re a better side than Italy.
“We have to prove that on Sunday. We need to have the confidence to prove it.”
Among the players Jones will bring on in the second half in an effort to sweep the game beyond Italy’s reach is uncapped lock Maro Itoje, who has been outstanding for Saracens this season.
Scrum-half Ben Youngs, prop Mako Vunipola and lock Courtney Lawes have been promoted to the starting XV, but it is the likely appearance of Itoje that is setting the pulse racing.
Jones uses a motoring analogy to describe Itoje’s ability and potential, comparing a Vauxhall Viva with a BMW.
“I was giving Itoje a massive compliment. We used to have one. I always remember my father driving a Vauxhall Viva – it’s a very good car. It’s a good place to start,” Jones said.
“They’re one of the great cars of the English automobile industry, but we want to turn him into a BMW!
“He’s a Vauxhall Viva – he’s got a good chassis on him, he’s got four wheels, he can move but he’s got a lot of work to do. This is part of the process.”