England's Tuilagi set for first appearance of year

Last updated 08:47 14/03/2014

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England named an unchanged team for its final Six Nations match against Italy, with Manu Tuilagi expected to make his first appearance in a year in Rome.

England coach Stuart Lancaster made just one change on the bench, where Tuilagi replaced Alex Goode following the 29-18 victory against Wales on Sunday after recovering from a pectoral muscle injury that kept him out for six months.

"It's great to be able to name an unchanged XV and we have been able to achieve consistency of selection in a very competitive squad this campaign," Lancaster said.

England still has a chance to win the Six Nations if they defeat Italy and France beat Ireland. However, they must also overhaul Ireland's points superiority should the Irish win in Paris.

Tuilagi's return was widely expected after England coaches even considered including him in their squad for the crunch against Wales until Lancaster decided it would be safer to wait one more week.

England hopes Tuilagi's power will be a decisive factor in Rome as Lancaster's team hopes to pile on the points.

"The Wales result was very significant for us but we need to finish the tournament well in Rome," Lancaster said. "We have had a tight turnaround and the key this week has been to manage the players' recovery and get them in the best shape for what will be a tough match against Italy."

Lancaster said he could be forced to amend his team at the last minute if loosehead prop Joe Marler's partner gives birth to their first child in the coming hours.

If Marler is unable to make it to Rome in time for the captain's run on Friday afternoon, he will be replaced by Mako Vunipola.

"Joe's partner is in labour as we speak so we're waiting to see how that goes. We'll make a decision on Friday," Lancaster said. "He's got to be at the captain's run. I spoke to Joe this morning and the good thing is we have a British and Irish Lion on the bench in Mako, who wants to start."

ENGLAND: Mike Brown, Jack Nowell, Luther Burrell, Billy Twelvetrees, Jonny May, Owen Farrell, Danny Care, Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley, David Wilson, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, Chris Robshaw, Ben Morgan. Reserves: Tom Youngs, Mako Vunipola, Henry Thomas, Dave Attwood, Tom Johnson, Lee Dickson, George Ford, Manusamoa Tuilagi.

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- AP

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