Eddie Jones likened his misfiring team to Liverpool’s goal-shy strike force after wielding the Six Nations axe ahead of tomorrow’s Italy clash.
Jones dropped five of the side that flopped against Scotland in last week’s Calcutta Cup including his entire front row of forwards.
Out went luckless young centre Ollie Lawrence, to make room for Owen Farrell’s switch into midfield and George Ford’s restoration at fly-half.
Whilst in the pack prop duo Ellis Genge and Will Stuart and hooker Jamie George were relegated to the bench and flanker Mark Wilson dropped completely.
In their place come Mako Vunipola, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Kyle Sinckler and Courtney Lawes with orders to get England off the back foot where they spent all last Saturday.
Jones claims that despite taking an hour to get a first pass into midfield against the Scots, his team’s attack has not regressed.
He likened their plight to Jurgen Klopp’s usually free-scoring Liverpool, who have managed only two goals in five home games.
“It’s been interesting to me watching Liverpool over the last six to eight weeks,” said the Australian.
“At one stage everyone was taking about how fantastic their front three was. Then they couldn’t score goals for a period and everyone’s saying how bad they are.
“Sometimes players, because of the mechanics of the team and the way the game is played, don’t get the opportunities – but they’ve got to stick at it.”
Jones claims he got it wrong last week by giving the players the wrong information.
That hardly explains zero line breaks, 15 penalties conceded and no hint of a try against a nation beating England at Twickenham for the first time since 1983.
Nonetheless his message is that tomorrow will be different and an Italy side without a Six Nations scalp since 2015, will run into a team on the front foot and bent on redemption.
“That’s when we’re at our best, that’s when we are one of the most damaging teams in the world,” said Jones. “And that’s what we want to get back to.”
How Lawrence, Worcester’s 21-year-old centre, would relish such a scenario. A hard-carrying player in the mould of Manu Tuilagi, he could make hay in this fixture.
Instead his chance has gone. Having not received a pass until the 63rd minute against Scotland he is now out of the picture.
“That was a difficult game for him,” Jones conceded. “He had very few opportunities in attack and not much to do in defence.
“Every young player is in a hurry. With the internet and the way life is now, everyone is in a hurry. But sometimes you don’t get exactly what you want at that particular time.
“Ollie understands there are areas of his game that he needs to improve. His ability to go away and work on that will be the test of his resilience. We want him to be a 50-cap player and that’s what we’re trying to develop with him.”
England: Daly; Watson, Slade, Farrell (capt), May; Ford, Youngs; M Vunipola, Cowan-Dickie, Sinckler, Itoje, Hill, Lawes, Curry, B Vunipola.
Replacements: George, Genge, Stuart, Ewels, Earl, Willis, Robson, Malins.
Italy: Trulla; Sperandio, Brex, Canna, Ioane; Garbisi, Varney; Lovotti, Bigi (capt), Riccioni, Lazzaroni, Sisi, Negri, Meyer, Lamaro.
Replacements: Lucchesi, Fischetti, Zilocchi, Cannone, Ruzza, Palazzani, Allan, Mori.