England's Kruis wary of Italy threat


Bagshot (United Kingdom) (AFP)

George Kruis has insisted there will be no complacency when England face Six Nations underdogs Italy at Twickenham on Saturday.

The Azzurri have yet to beat England and come into the game on a woeful run of 20 successive defeats against all opponents in the Six Nations.

But two years ago they briefly frustrated England at Twickenham as a result of a controversial no-ruck tactic devised by Italy coach Conor O'Shea.

England boss Eddie Jones suggested Italy would be a better side if former Ireland full-back O'Shea took the handbrake off and it was a view echoed by Saracens lock Kruis, recalled after injuries to Courtney Lawes and Maro Itoje.

"If Conor lets them play then they can play and produce some magic out the back. We're prepared for that and we're not underestimating them," Kruis said at England's training base in Bagshot, southwest of London.

"They've put on some pretty good performances in this Six Nations and we know they could chuck anything at us -- like they have done previously.

"They're unpredictable and can play in different styles. With Italy you've got to expect anything and that's exactly what we're thinking about.

"The game starts with the forwards so we know we've got a big job to do in the pack."

Jones had hinted on Thursday there was a chance of Itoje returning to the matchday 23 following ligament damage but England forwards coach Steve Borthwick confirmed Friday he would not feature against Italy.

"Maro is not fit for this weekend, but he's recovering really well. He progresses every day. Everyone else is fully fit," Borthwick said.

The former England captain, whose side are looking to bounce back from a defeat by Wales, added: "We're really excited about this game. Italy have played very, very well over the last couple of matches."

- 'Special kid Sinckler' -

Meanwhile O'Shea forecast that Red Rose prop Kyle Sinckler would become an England legend.

O'Shea nurtured the dynamic 23-year-old's early career while he was director of rugby at Harlequins and was in no doubt of his talent, for all the likes of Wales coach Warren Gatland have questioned Sinckler's sometimes fiery temperament.

"Eddie (Jones) came to Quins in the first week he was in the (England) job and asked 'is there anyone we are missing?' I said, 'Sink'," O'Shea recalled.

"The kid is special. At the age of 16 we put him on the bench to go to Toulouse in the Champions Cup. England are bloody lucky to have him and he's going to become a pretty big legend in this game."

As for talk of Sinckler's short fuse, O'Shea added: "Has he got an edge? Yes. But he's more under control than people think. When you are as explosive as he is, he won't take a backward step, we know that.

"He has a swagger but he backs it up with the way he plays. I have gone through a lot of his formative years and he's still a young player. He is good to be around," his old boss insisted.