Nick Easter: England Vs Italy exclusive Six Nations preview

In an exclusive interview with SportsBoom, Nick Easter the former England Skipper, gives some great insights into England's clash against Italy in the opening weekend of the 2024 Six Nations tournament.

Neil Goulding
Neil Goulding

Last Updated: 2024-02-02

Louis Hobbs

4 minutes read

Nick Easter - Former England Captain

Italy aren't to be underestimated

SIX Nations’ winning captain Nick Easter believes England have to avoid a potential “banana skin” against Italy in the opening match of this year’s competition on Saturday. England share the record of having won the famous championship 39 times with Wales, but they last won the tile FOUR years ago.

Easter, who won 54 caps during a distinguished international career and famously led them to the Six Nations title in 2011, is confident England will triumph in their opening match, he was warned they can’t afford to be complacent at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome (2.15pm kick-off).

“That Italy away game is a real potential banana skin,” offers Easter, speaking exclusively to “That will be a very testing game! We’ve never lost to Italy, but you just have to look at how well the way Benetton Treviso are playing in the ERC [European Rugby Champions Cup].

“If the Italian coach Gonzalo Quesada picks the majority of those players, who have that cohesion and those relationships – that’s going to be really tough.

“Italy are always better at the start of the tournament, they tend to run out of legs and might get a few injuries to key players, but I think the fixtures fall well. Some people may argue you might have wanted two of the stronger sides, Ireland or France, because they won’t quite be in the rhythm, or at least less likely to be in a rhythm because they’d not had a proper game beforehand you could upset them."

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It's swings and roundabouts, I think England need to evolve their game, especially their attacking game. Italy, then Wales at home, a break and then Scotland, is the best way to do that. But none of those games are going to be easy.

Where should England focus?

Easter, who is heavily involved in coaching these days after 15 years at the top level, is adamant England need to rediscover their identity and re-engage with many frustrated supporters who last tasted Six Nations success in 2020. The Six Nations is the oldest tournament in rugby, it’s got too much history,” added Easter.

“When I came in [to the international team] I had a couple of senior players who pulled me aside and said ‘when you play for England you have to realise, however you analyse the opposition, they’ll give another 20-30 per cent because you’re English’. But you don’t cower in the face of that and think ‘oh my God’, instead that’s the challenge. That’s the challenge and what you have to embrace."

“The biggest challenge in international rugby is playing against the best players in the world and testing yourself against the best. When you play for England those players raise their game because it’s England. That’s not to disparage how they perform against other nations, but it just seems to be the case. Once you realise that then you can prepare properly."

“What England need is more of their best players, their biggest personalities to engage with the camera and the public. I think Jamie George can do that, first and foremost he’ll have a job to play very well, and make sure of his position in the team, that’s his number one priority."

“But outside of that, from a commercial point-of-view, from a re-connection point-of-view, his appointment makes a lot of sense.”

Neil Goulding
Neil GouldingSenior Sports Reporter

Neil has been a journalist for longer than he'd care to remember, having written for national newspapers and respected publications for over 25 years. For the last three years he has worked freelance for BBC Sport, working on the production desk as a sub-editor and also as a writer, covering a whole range of sports.