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Battle of the beards this Sunday!

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Two of world rugby's most famous beards are set to go head-to-head when England play Italy at Twickenham this Sunday.

It was a close shave when Geoff Parling took the title of the Sexiest Beard 2013 in an online poll last month ahead of the formidable follicles of Leicester Tigers teammate Martin Castrogiovanni third.

Now they are set to line up against each other when the Red Rose and the Azzurri meet at HQ in Sunday’s Six Nations clash.

Parling says: “It’ll be good to play against him and see his bald spot lining up against us in the scrum!

“Castro is a good player isn’t he. We know the qualities he brings and we’re looking forward to it and are going to enjoy it.”

Parling is joined in the squad by Tigers teammates Dan Cole, Tom Croft, Toby Flood, Manu Tuilagi, Ben Youngs, Tom Youngs and Thomas Waldrom as England aim to continue their winning Six Nations campaign. But they are not taking Castro and Italy lightly.

“The Italians have already beaten France, and France have probably been our hardest test so far so we know we’re going to have to be right on it,” says Parling.

“Their pack is strong, they’re direct and they defend well. They’ve got a strong set piece. At every scrum they’ll try to keep the ball in and try to push off the ball and hope it’ll give up first.

“Their line-out is good, they win a lot of the ball, they maul well, they’re good around the fringes. They’re a good pack, they're a good team and we can’t underestimate them.”

England announce their team for the clash at 10.45am on Friday morning. Stay tuned to the Tigers club website for all the team news and join in the match chat on the official Tigers Facebook and Twitter pages.