England v Italy, Six Nations, March 10
Lancaster wants more than a win
ESPN Staff
March 9, 2013
Alone with his thoughts - England coach Stuart Lancaster, England v France, Six Nations, Twickenham, February 22, 2013
Stuart Lancaster wants an eight or nine out of ten performance from England © PA Photos

Stuart Lancaster expects England turn on the style against Italy on Sunday and take another significant step on the road towards a first red rose Grand Slam in a decade.

England took their attacking game to a new level in their opening victory over Scotland but since then, as lock Geoff Parling described it, they have relied on character to beat Ireland and France. Lancaster wants more than just sheer bloody-mindedness this weekend, with England anxious to fix the scrum and lineout frailties which have crept into their game.

"If we win through character alone this weekend I will take it but I won't be happy with it," Lancaster said. "You need character because it underpins everything in rugby but ultimately if you are going to keep winning matches at the highest level you need to be hitting eight or nine out of 10 in all areas of your game.

"You need to dominate physically and take your opponents to places they don't want to. I think Geoff was suggesting that if we are to keep winning that is where we need to be. We want to put in a performance that reflects where we think we are. We think we are an improving team with strength in depth and, from what I have seen, a motivated team.

"We are in a good place going into this game. We have won three from three and we want to make sure we finish it off."

England already boast a positive points difference of 17 and can tighten their grip on the Six Nations title with a victory this weekend. Lancaster has made five changes from the 23-13 win against France, with only the selection of Toby Flood for the injured Owen Farrell forced upon him.

Flood will link up with Danny Care at scrum-half and Mako Vunipola gets his first Test start at loosehead prop while hooker Tom Youngs and flanker James Haskell have been recalled. Although Lancaster has urged England to finish the Grand Slam job over the next eight days, the players are anxious not to look beyond the Italian challenge.

The Azzuri beat France on the opening weekend and they boast a handful of world-class players, including the returning captain Sergio Parisse. Flood has drawn on the talk Sir Bradley Wiggins gave to the squad in the autumn about the importance of building something special brick by brick.

"Bradley Wiggins talked about how you have to break everything down," said Flood, who has always been a cycling fan. "He knew the Tour de France was there and he had the ability but he had to get the Paris-Nice right and the Dauphine right. That is a really interesting thing for us to deal with.

"This is the Six Nations, it is eight weeks long and you have to get it right day by day, week by week."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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