Robshaw expecting fiery reception in freezing Rome

The temperatures in Rome may have plummeted but England captain Chris Robshaw has warned Italy his men will be prepared to fight fire with fire in today’s RBS 6 Nations clash.

The Eternal City was being lashed with snow and sleet as England put together their final preparations away from the Stadio Olimpico, where the pitch remained covered.

The temperature is forecast to drop to -3 at game-time tomorrow – but if Italy bring anything to an RBS 6 Nations match it is fire and brimstone.

The Azzurri have never beaten England in a Test match but they will be roared on by a sold-out crowd in Rome and Robshaw knows what to expect.

The Harlequins flanker is convinced England’s new-look side have the hunger and determination to match Italy and build on last weekend’s 13-6 victory over Scotland.

“We have no illusions about what tomorrow is going to be like,” Robshaw said.

“Coming to Italy, to their capital in the heart of their country, is not easy and they are getting better year on year. They will want to go out and prove they are a rugby force.

“Everyone knows about the Italian passion but we have to match that. Everyone who is in this set-up at the moment is so passionate to play for their country.

“Italy are always a very physical and passionate side, they will hold the ball through phases and they will have a go through the forwards.

“Last week’s win showed the character of our guys. When you go away from home it is you against a whole nation.”

The Azzurri have never beaten England in a Test match, coming closest in 1989 when they drew 15-15 in a non-cap international.

Italy stunned France in Rome last year and Parisse wants to deliver another famous scalp to repay the 72,000 who have bought tickets for the game.

“We’re confident for sure,” Italy captain Sergio Parisse said.

“I think everyone thinks we can win against England.”

ENGLAND: B Foden (Northampton Saints); C Ashton (Northampton), B Barritt (Saracens), O Farrell (Saracens), D Strettle (Saracens); C Hodgson (Saracens), B Youngs (Leicester); A Corbisiero (London Irish), D Hartley (Northampton), D Cole (Leicester), M Botha (Saracens), T Palmer (Stade Francais), T Croft (Leicester), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), P Dowson (Northampton).

Replacements: R Webber (London Wasps), M Stevens (Saracens), G Parling (Leicester), B Morgan (Scarlets), L Dickson (Northampton), J Turner-Hall (Harlequins), M Brown (Harlequins).

ITALY: A Masi (Aironi Rugby), G Venditti (Aironi Rugby), T Benvenuti (Benetton Treviso), G Canale (Clermont-Auvergne), L McLean (Benetton Treviso), K Burton (Benetton Treviso), E Gori (Benetton Treviso); A Lo Cicero (Racing-Metro Paris), L Ghiraldini (Benetton Treviso), M Castrogiovanni (Leicester Tigers), Q Geldenhuys (Aironi Rugby), M Bortolami (Aironi Rugby), A Zanni (Benetton Treviso), R Barbieri (Benetton Treviso), S Parisse (Stade Francais).

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