Six Nations - Italy v England: Jeremy Guscott's verdict

By Jeremy GuscottRugby union analyst, BBC Sport
Mako Vunipola in action for England against Scotland
Mako Vunipola, set to start as England loose-head on Sunday, combines rare power with deft handling
Six Nations: Italy v England
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome Date: Sunday, 14 February Kick-off: 14:00 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary on Radio 5 live, online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app. Text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app. Highlights on BBC Two at 19:00

I like the changes Eddie Jones has made to the England team for Sunday's Six Nations trip to Italy - he's brought in guys who can make an impact.

In bringing in Mako Vunipola, Courtney Lawes and Ben Youngs he's not made not drastic changes.

They're not a response to a poor performance - he's giving the guys who have come in the chance to stake their claim.

They would all have been tight calls last time round and now these guys can show they deserve to be the long-term options in those positions.

This weekend's live TV coverage
Sat, 13 Feb (14:25)France v IrelandBBC One
Sat, 13 Feb (16:50)Wales v ScotlandBBC One
Sun, 14 Feb (14:00)Italy v EnglandITV
Six Nations coverage on the BBC

Can Mako make an impact from the start?

Mako Vunipola made a huge impact when he came on for the last 30 minutes of the win over Scotland at loose-head in place of Joe Marler.

He carried well, tackled hard and produced that beautiful pass to Owen Farrell that led to Jack Nowell scoring England's second try.

Mako Vunipola played a crucial role in England's second try last weekend

You need a point of difference at international level and he's got that with his explosiveness.

His scrummaging was questioned a few seasons ago but he's answered those questions.

He is the sort of player who can make an impact but the big question is how long he can sustain that, so fitness is king.

World-class ball-carriers

To be a world-class side you have to have four or five explosive ball-carriers and Mako definitely contributes to that number.

Courtney Lawes, who has been given the nod over Joe Launchbury, is probably seen as being a bit more athletic and bringing a bit more energy than the Wasps man, and the Northampton lock could be one of those important ball-carriers.

George Kruis has the potential, we all know about Billy Vunipola, who was man of the match for his efforts last weekend, and James Haskell is certainly energetic in his desire to do that.

Potential on the bench…

Maro Itoje and Jack Clifford pictured during an England training session
Maro Itoje and Jack Clifford will both be hoping to make an impression off the bench in Rome on Sunday

There's only so many changes you can make and Jones has been smart in his decisions so far, but it would have been nice to have seen Jack Clifford in the starting XV.

The Harlequins back-rower, who turned 23 on Friday, is a pacy ball-carrier and he looks like the sort of impactful player who can make it in Test rugby.

Jones could have switched Haskell to the blind-side in place of Chris Robshaw with Clifford on the open-side, as happened in the closing stages against Scotland.

Everyone is excited about the potential of Maro Itjoe. The 21-year-old Saracens forward is already impressive at club level - now we're going to find out whether he can make an impact with his physicality in Test rugby.

He's likely to succeed because he's intelligent and understands the game, and although he can play blind-side and lock, for me he's likely to make his name in the second row.

Have Italy found a fly-half?

Carlo Canna scores a try for Italy in their narrow defeat by France
Carlo Canna's try put Italy ahead against France but the Azzurri could not hold on

Italy have to be excited about new fly-half Carlo Canna - his running is impressive, he's elusive, has great acceleration, he offloads well and has a decent pass.

However, like all expressive fly-halves - bar the great Dan Carter - goal kicking doesn't seem to be the 23-year-old's forte.

Outside centre Michele Campagnaro had a wonderful game in the narrow loss to France, making some decent line breaks, and their wingers are decent, so Italy's backline is confident.

As always, they have a very competitive pack, so the question is how much last weekend's defeat will have taken out of them mentally and physically.

They had better be well rested because England look like they want to play a high-tempo style.

Eddie Jones has said he wants to blow them away and if England are at full throttle, can Italy live with them?

Jerry's verdict

I expect England to play some great rugby in good conditions and beat Italy by 14 points or more.

Jeremy Guscott was talking to BBC Sport's James Standley.