England ready to pack a punch against Italy - Jamie George

On-the-ment England winger Jack Nowell (centre) in action during last month's Guinness Six Nations match at the Principality Stadium. PIC: David Davies/PA Wire
On-the-ment England winger Jack Nowell (centre) in action during last month's Guinness Six Nations match at the Principality Stadium. PIC: David Davies/PA Wire
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Jamie George has warned Italy that any attempt to rough-up England will be met with the same unified retaliation evident against Georgia last week.

Fighting broke out during a live scrummaging session at the three-day training camp in Oxford, forcing coaches from both nations to intervene to separate the warring front rows.

George views the brawls against the Eastern Europeans as the perfect medicine following a 21-13 defeat by Wales that means England can afford no further setbacks if they are to win the Guinness Six Nations title.

“After a loss sometimes you feel very isolated and naturally you are constantly thinking about yourself – ‘what did I do, what could I have done better?’” said the Lions and Saracens hooker.

“And then the next thing you know you’re in a pretty heated session with the Georgians. As a pack we showed that we have each other’s backs and we are as tight as ever.

“I know for a fact that the person to my left, right and behind me have got my back so it’s definitely brought us closer together.

England's Maro Itoje will be given all the time he needs to prove his fitness ahead of Saturday's Six Nation's encounter with Italy. PIC: Adam Davy/PA Wire

England's Maro Itoje will be given all the time he needs to prove his fitness ahead of Saturday's Six Nation's encounter with Italy. PIC: Adam Davy/PA Wire

“As a forward pack we will always look out for each other and we speak about that a lot. We don’t want to get into pushing and shoving and all that, but unfortunately it’s a part of the game.

“It’s that fine balance of standing up for yourself and not showing any form of weakness, but at the same time not letting it distract you from what you’ve got to do next.

“You see any white shirt being messed around with and more often than not you’ll see 15 white shirts there pretty quickly. That’s the great thing about the team and it’s a sign we’re in a great place.”

Kyle Sinckler was targeted by Wales at the Principality Stadium after being identified by Warren Gatland as an “emotional timebomb”, but England have a strategy in place to deal with any baiting.

You see any white shirt being messed around with and more often than not you’ll see 15 white shirts there pretty quickly.

Jamie George

“People are going to target our better players, always. We would try to do the same with any opposition,” said George.

“How they do that might be by trying to get under their skin a bit, so we make sure we look after them, get them out of there and then we fly into the next thing.”

England are still in a strong position to win the Six Nations but need Grand Slam-chasing Wales to slip up in the final two rounds while dispatching Italy and Scotland on successive weekends at Twickenham.

“Winning the title is certainly the end goal. The big thing is we know we need to put pressure on Wales to get results from both those games,” said George.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland (left) and England counterpart Eddie Jones before last month's Guinness Six Nations match at the Principality Stadium. PIC: David Davies/PA Wire

Wales head coach Warren Gatland (left) and England counterpart Eddie Jones before last month's Guinness Six Nations match at the Principality Stadium. PIC: David Davies/PA Wire

“Then they’ll know for a fact we’re right back on it and we’re desperate to win the championship. That will apply pressure on them. That’s all we can do.”

George refuses to dwell on the evidence presented to Premiership Rugby Ltd that questions whether Saracens are in breach of salary cap rules.

“I haven’t really thought about it at all. We came in at the weekend and people were giving us stick, but it’s all banter. There’s nothing said too much,” said George.

“Between the Saracens guys we haven’t really spoken about it either. It is very difficult in a Test week to speak about too much else.”

England will this morning name their starting XV to face Italy with doubts over lock Maro Itoje and wing Jack Nowell, who are struggling with respective knee and shoulder injuries.

Itoje suffered an injury to the same knee damaged in the Championship opener against Ireland on February 2 when performing a forwards drill in training on Tuesday.

Charlie Ewels is on standby to replace the Lions lock if he fails to recover in time with Joe Launchbury and George Kruis forming the starting second-row partnership.

Nowell has been struggling with the shoulder stinger incurred in the opening two minutes against Wales and is also a major doubt ahead of this morning’s team announcement.

Should he succumb to the injury, bulldozing Fijian-born wing Joe Cokanasiga will step up from the bench and into the number 14 jersey.

“We’ll give Maro every chance to make the weekend. He’s still got a good chance of making it,” defence coach John Mitchell said.

“We’re sensible enough to make sure the athlete’s health comes first. There’s no way that we want to create a setback for the athlete. But we’d like we’d like him to be there, he’s a bloody good player.

“Jack took a shoulder knock in the first minute of the match against Wales.

“He’s progressively increased his training all the way through and again he’s in a position to be considered.

“We’ll make sure his health is not at risk when we do make that decision.”

England remain in title contention despite their 21-13 defeat in Cardiff with bonus-point wins in the opening two rounds leaving them just two points adrift of Grand Slam-chasing Wales.

Italy have not won a Six Nations match since 2015 in a run spanning 20 Tests and have been unable to secure even a losing bonus points so far this year.