Rugby Union

Jonathan Joseph struggled to make an impact against Scotland.

Jonathan Joseph wants to make statement of intent against Italy

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Jonathan Joseph hopes to show England head coach Eddie Jones his destructive qualities in Sunday's RBS 6 Nations clash with Italy.

Joseph may have been upstaged in the opening 15-9 win over Scotland by replacement prop Mako Vunipola's deft handling, but the Bath centre is keen to stay ahead of the competition by steadily improving.

The 24-year-old scored four tries in his first Six Nations tournament last year - one in the opener with Wales and two against Italy in the second round of matches - and travels to Rome eager to deliver for Jones' England.

Elliot Daly was released back to Wasps on Tuesday night and Joseph is expected to retain his place in the starting XV head coach Jones is scheduled to name on Friday.

Joseph knows the best way of being assured of the number 13 jersey is by improving on how he played 12 months ago.

"I was very pleased with how the first couple of weeks went last Six Nations," Joseph said.

"I remember being extremely nervous pre-Wales so it was quite a weight off my shoulders after those games. I felt much more confident.

"You're always a little bit unsure where you might stand with new coaches coming in.

"It was about trying to play the best I can play and the rest will look after itself.

"It's an uncontrollable if the coach doesn't like the style of play I bring. I just had to concentrate on myself.

"It's not so much thinking about being dropped it's about wanting to do yourself, your family and your country proud so you don't leave anything out on the pitch.

"You might make mistakes, you might not have your best game, but as long as the effort is right up there then you can't really blame yourself. It just wasn't your game."

Jones adopted a pragmatic approach in Edinburgh, but is targeting a "hiding" of perennial Wooden Spoon contenders Italy. Joseph's performance could be key.

"We want to be a very destructive backline," Joseph added.

"Very good off set-piece moves, but just that work-rate to get in behind the forwards, bossing them around and when we see an opportunity he (Jones) wants us to take it.

"He's not going to have a go at us for taking an opportunity and not quite executing right. If we see a space we've got to take it.

"That's obviously something that a lot of us in the backline are happy about and pleased to play along with."

Joseph had surgery on his pectoral muscle after England's disappointing World Cup campaign ended prematurely on home soil.

He returned ahead of schedule in December, but Bath have struggled, performing beneath their own expectations in the Aviva Premiership and European Champions Cup.

Joseph played down the impact of Bath's form on their England contingent, including fly-half George Ford and wing Anthony Watson, but his place has been under scrutiny.

And Daly could return to the reckoning later in the tournament.

"Elliot was playing very well," Joseph added.

"He's had a stand-out season and for me, it's about what I can do to get better.

"I can't really concentrate on what other players are doing, whether it's Elliot, Manu (Tuilagi), when he comes back, or Sladey (Henry Slade).

"There are a lot of boys who will be challenging for positions in the centre so you've just got to focus on yourself and what you can do to be better."

Joseph was asked if his former Millfield schoolmate Vunipola was another he needed to look out for.

"No," he added. "(But) he's always had those skills. He's a great prop and a great footballer as well."

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