Vunipola set to start for England
Mako Vunipola is expected to be awarded his first Test start when England head coach Stuart Lancaster names the team to play Italy at Twickenham.
Vunipola has been used as a high impact replacement in his seven England appearances to date but the 20 stone loosehead prop is set to replace Joe Marler in the number one jersey.
Lancaster is also expected to bring hooker Tom Youngs and flanker James Haskell back into the England side that beat France 23-13 at Twickenham.
Leicester's Toby Flood will start at fly-half in place of the injured Owen Farrell with Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care set to come in as Lancaster looks to "freshen things up".
That configuration, if confirmed, would mean another taste of the action off the bench for Gloucester centre Billy Twelvetrees and a show of faith in wing Chris Ashton, who has not been at his best this championship.
England could tighten their grip on the title with a comprehensive victory over Italy but Mike Brown insisted they will not go into the game deliberately chasing a cricket score.
England's average win over Italy at home is 48-11 and a repeat of that this weekend would boost their points difference heading into the final round of the championship. Lancaster's unbeaten men already have a 17-point cushion over Wales, who they play in Cardiff on March 16, and they are 28 points better off than Scotland.
But England have their eyes on a bigger prize. A victory of any description over the Azzurri would tee up a shot at the Grand Slam when England head to the Millennium Stadium.
And Brown insisted winning must be England's only focus against an Italian side buoyed by the return of their number eight and captain Sergio Parisse.
"We are just focused on winning the game and how we are going to do that. Scoring a lot of points doesn't matter," Brown said. "It is going to be a tough test. If we take our eye off the ball we will be turned over. We saw what they did to France."
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