Parling convinced England can deal with line-out issues in RBS 6 Nations clash with Italy
Geoff Parling may not get up at 4.30am to study line-out tapes, as Steve Borthwick used to, but the issue of England’s misfiring set-piece is never far from his mind.
England’s line-out general spent yesterday with his family in the hope of enjoying a break from studying the detail required to put things right before Italy arrive at Twickenham this weekend.
But it was likely to have been a vain hope. Parling is in charge of a line-out that currently ranks fifth out of six in the RBS 6 Nations championship and that does not rest easily with him.
With England’s scrum not firing on all cylinders either, Parling is aware that Italy will attack the red rose pack ferociously on Sunday.
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England have overcome their set-piece issues to remain on the Grand Slam trail with three consecutive wins, but Parling insisted they cannot continue to rely on character to see them through.
“Italy’s forwards will be physical and they will get stuck in. They’re good at spoiling your ball and making life difficult, so we’re in for another big test,” Parling said.
“Against Ireland we lost three line-outs, which was frustrating, and against France we lost a couple. It’s down to detail. I’m not a 4.30am man, but I do spend a lot of time thinking about the role, analysing and at times worrying about the detail.
“I force myself to get away from it now and again. I go home, change some nappies, spend time with my wife and family. But can anyone flick a switch? This is my job and a job I love.
“I’m not concerned. In terms of our line-out defence we don’t have a problem, but we want to be known as a pack who can take it to any team. There are little bits of detail we need to attend to if we are to be right up there. I would much rather have to work on little bits of detail than work on character.
“When your backs are against the wall, which they were at times against Ireland and France, character saw us through. You will always be able to fix up little bits of detail, you cannot fix character if you don’t have it.”
The detail to which Parling refers not only covers the execution of the line-out – the throw and timing of the jump – but how he reads the opposition and the accuracy of his own calls.
The line-out needs to be a well-oiled machine to be effective.
“Against France there was one crap call by me that proved costly,” he said. “I called the throw to the wrong place. I called it to where they were defending. I thought Yannick Nyanga would move away, but he didn’t.
“That’s down to me. That’s what I mean by fine detail.”
England head coach Stuart Lancaster will confirm his team to face Italy this morning, with five changes expected from the side that beat France 23-13.