England Number 8 for Six Nations

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Who should be England's no.8 for the 2012 six nations?

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Total Votes : 49

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Post by robshaw4england on Thu 03 Nov 2011, 10:40 pm

With James Haskell (who in my opinion would have been a shoe in) out playing in Japan then New Zealand until next summer - England don't have an obvious option to replace Nick Easter at number 8.

Would you keep Nick Easter in at number 8 for England until Haskell gets back from his sabbatical, or would you go with a player like Luke Narraway who has had international experience and could challenge Haskell when he gets back from his travels, all the way through to the next world cup. Would you like to see Phil Dowson finally given a chance, or would you like to see Tom Guest given a go at international rugby when he gets back from his wrist injury. There is also a possibility at looking at playing outstanding youth such as Carl Fearns who at the start of the season has been outstanding for Bath until a minor injury. Dare I say it, some of you may even think England are best to go with Thomas 'the Tank Engine' Waldrom, however I hope that you don't!

What do you think?


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Post by GeordieFalcon on Thu 03 Nov 2011, 11:48 pm

Has Fearns actually been playing 8 for bath...or on the flank? I thought he had been moving between 6-7.

Narraway has missed his chance, Guest could make it...lets see how he goes with both Easter and York challenging for the Quins spot.

Dowson is past it for England recognition (ie we need to blood the next long term 8) and Waldrom is a fat foreigner....

For this reason i would have Easter in to start then give Fearns gametime....if his alround game is still high come february.

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Post by Rory_Gallagher on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 12:59 am

I think the best you can do this 6 nations is Easter, and then when Crane comes back from his injury you should play him as England's future 8.

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Post by maestegmafia on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 1:31 am

Why is Alex Gray not being suggested?

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Post by Looseheaded on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 1:42 am

On the one hand now is the time to start rebuilding, but at the same time, there is no hurry, and Easter is the most suitable player on that list. Tough call.

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Post by LondonTiger on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 8:11 am

I have read suggestions in the press that Robshaw may play at 8!!

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Post by GeordieFalcon on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 9:15 am

Problem with Robshaw at 8 is similar to Fearns...he hasnt been playing 8 for his club. I have no doubt he could probably be a very effective 8...

We need to get back to the whole idea of picking players in the position they play for their club.

Alex Gray...i would have in the Saxons asap....if he handles it...then promote him to the senior squad to get him involved early.

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Post by LondonTiger on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 10:05 am

Agreed GF, players should be selected in positions they are used to.

This means it really boils down to a choice between Waldrom, Narraway and Easter/Guest (depending who is playing for Quins through the winter).

We then need to look at who else is selected in teh back row and teh style of rugby to be played.

Personally I would probably opt for Easter as a one season stop gap.

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Post by GeordieFalcon on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 10:18 am

"Personally I would probably opt for Easter as a one season stop gap.."

Thats my opinion aswell...

He's not razzamatazz, but he knows the role, is powerful and experienced.

Then we can look to play Robshaw, Wood, Croft etc...a nice mix of pace and power to compliment.

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 10:32 am

Easter will fill the role well in the short term whilst we rebuild other areas of the team, though Johnno has introduced quite a good portion of younger players. Unless someone else comes in and makes their selection a forgone conclusion stick with the experienced and reliable player at 8 so tinkering can continue elsewhere.

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Post by Glas a du on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 10:46 am

Andy Goode. Lovely pair of hands and a decent boot.
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Post by Mr Bounce on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 10:58 am

Andy Goode is probably too heavy to be an effective 8 laughing

Seriously though I would suggest that playing players out of their comfort zone is not a good idea at international level, hence why I just don't buy Robshaw at 8 (or 7 for that matter). He is however a class blindside.

If he's up to full fitness I would suggest Luke Narraway. He has the experience and is a proper 8, playing there week in week out and not a converted flanker. He formed part of the great back row of himself, Haskell and Rees which were much lauded by NZ about 4 years ago. If he's anywhere near that form again, let's use him.

Easter, for all his "experience" does not exactly set the international stage alight. I believe his time has passed.

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Post by Glas a du on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 11:05 am

Laugh
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Post by formerly known as Sam on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 11:08 am

Seriously though I would suggest that playing players out of their comfort zone is not a good idea at international level, hence why I just don't buy Robshaw at 8 (or 7 for that matter). He is however a class blindside.

Robshaw played the majority of last season at 7 though. With either Guest or Halalufia (sp?) at 6 and the natural 7 Skinner on the bench.

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Post by Glas a du on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 11:10 am

It's only out of his comfort zone if you ask him to play like a proper 7 and not just another blind side.
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Post by formerly known as Sam on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 11:26 am

England don't currently ask anyone to play like a proper openside so the combination of him and the naturally wider ranging Croft should in theory work then.

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Post by Glas a du on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 11:30 am

formerly known as Sam wrote:England don't currently ask anyone to play like a proper openside so the combination of him and the naturally wider ranging Croft should in theory work then.

Depends on the number eight. I don't think Easter is athletic enough to compensate. Haskell is too much of a glory hunter.
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Post by yappysnap on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 11:38 am

Robshaw is comfortable at 6 or 7, he plays both roles pretty similarly.

And it's not Halalufia it's Fa'asavalu.

I wouldn't have Narroway in there, he hasn't shown anything to suggest he could deal with the physicality of international rugby. Good Saxons player but I don't think he could step up.

I'd keep Easter for the moment, pray Haskel plays 8 abroad and then get Hask straight back in for the AI's with a youngish player in the squad. One of Guest, York, Fearns probably.

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Post by emack2 on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 11:42 am

Strange decision,discarding a class Number 8,and potential All Black Colin Bourke.
To accomodate Haskell an English Player,so not a potential All Black.
From the Players point of view Haskell,will be playing in one of the best tournaments in world rugby.
Alongside Backrow forwards like Elsom,Pocock,Broussow,Burger,Thomson,Kaino,Reid so it should be a learning curve.

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 11:45 am

And it's not Halalufia it's Fa'asavalu

Doh didn't think it seemed right when I typed it.

Strange decision,discarding a class Number 8,and potential All Black Colin Bourke.
To accomodate Haskell an English Player,so not a potential All Black.

There were comments along the lines of Haskell agreeing to receive just the standard retainer so he might have been the cheaper option in the short term with a different plan for the long term. Haskell does sort of cover all three backrow positions as well.

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Post by cabbagesandbrussels on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 11:58 am

I voted Narraway. I think he was unlucky to get dropped originaly as i never saw him do anything wrong in an England jersey...

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Post by yappysnap on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 11:58 am

Is Haskel definately going there as an 8 then?

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Post by emack2 on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 1:42 pm

Most NZ loosies are competent at 6,7,8 too

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Post by Comfort on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 1:48 pm

very surpirsed Waldrom hasnt got more love in this, obviously its a contentious pick, but hes probably the best option in the short-term (onfield-performance-wise) i would have thought?

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Post by hawalsh on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 2:19 pm

yappysnap wrote:I wouldn't have Narroway in there...Good Saxons player but I don't think he could step up.

I don't think he's been that great for the Saxons either, he's often anonymous against tough opposition (even more so for a captain), against the Wolfhounds earlier this year for example. Similar story in club rugby, last week against Saracens for example (I don't think I even noticed when he went off).


Although in some ways I understand the idea about Easter doing a holding job, that would only really make sense if we were to bring in a similar player as his eventual replacement. Everyone seems to agree that there needs to be some serious remodelling of our backrow and its balance, and I'm not sure how much it advances our cause to experiment with the flanks, then a year later remove the 8 and most likely change the whole dynamic and balance again. Far better to establish players by testing them in a unit that might have some longevity.

Fearns is the man for me. He's mostly been playing on the flanks for Bath so far this season, but 8 is where he's played his whole career (where he represented and captained England age grades, earning an IRB junior player of the year nomination), so unlike some of the people being suggested he has good ability at the core 8 skills. Plus, with the arrival of Louw and Moody, surely he'll be playing at 8 for Bath more often now, he's a better player than Taylor or Skirving.

I hope Guest comes back from the broken bones strongly enough to make the EPS as well. He's a great athletic 8 (better than Narraway in that regard) and would be a good bench option, being equally effective at blindside and able to offer a dynamic burst for the end of a game.

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Post by RuggerRadge2611 on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 2:23 pm

emack2 wrote:Most NZ loosies are competent at 6,7,8 too

Depends what you want from a number 8. Noone could ever say McCaw is as physical as Kaino or Read for instance. For me a number 8 has to be a monster ball carrier to make the hard yards and tackle well. Ideally the 7 should be the fetcher and link man and the blindsider should be a chopper.

For me the England backrow unit :

6. Croft
7. Wood
8. Narraway
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Post by formerly known as Sam on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 2:36 pm

Everyone seems to agree that there needs to be some serious remodelling of our backrow and its balance, and I'm not sure how much it advances our cause to experiment with the flanks, then a year later remove the 8 and most likely change the whole dynamic and balance again.

Seems people are favouring Crane as a long term option as he has captained England at I think every level other than first team is still only 24 and has shown big match temprement. He is also very similar in style to Easter in that he is an old fashioned work horse 8 that makes the hard yard carries, has good hands, does the hard defensive shift in the tight and can control the ball like it's magnatised at the base of the scrum.

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Post by Glas a du on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 2:44 pm

Easter a workhorse? Just being a plodder doesn't make him a workhorse!
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Post by Comfort on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 2:58 pm

RuggerRadge2611 wrote:Depends what you want from a number 8. Noone could ever say McCaw is as physical as Kaino or Read for instance. For me a number 8 has to be a monster ball carrier to make the hard yards and tackle well. Ideally the 7 should be the fetcher and link man and the blindsider should be a chopper.

For me the England backrow unit :

6. Croft
7. Wood
8. Narraway


I agree with Rugger, except, I'd go with

6. Robshaw
7. Croft
8. Waldrom

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 3:01 pm

Easter a workhorse? Just being a plodder doesn't make him a workhorse! .

When he combined with Corry in 2007 that was a 6 and 8 combination for work they spent the majority of the tournament either at the bottom of or fighting above every ruck. He still performed very well in the 6N normally making the most carries and normally in the least favourable situations. He was croncially off form at the RWC and that's what has brought about the assumption he needs phasing out.

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Post by Glas a du on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 3:09 pm

formerly known as Sam wrote:
Easter a workhorse? Just being a plodder doesn't make him a workhorse! .

When he combined with Corry in 2007 that was a 6 and 8 combination for work they spent the majority of the tournament either at the bottom of or fighting above every ruck. He still performed very well in the 6N normally making the most carries and normally in the least favourable situations. He was croncially off form at the RWC and that's what has brought about the assumption he needs phasing out.

OK, but what does that tell you about his mentality/commitment?
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Post by GeordieFalcon on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 3:34 pm

"OK, but what does that tell you about his mentality/commitment? ."

It tells me that for so many players to play badly....there is a fundamental flaw with the England management and coaching team.

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Post by Glas a du on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 3:47 pm

Fine, but isn't that the situation Parisse is in for Italy? Instead of feeling sorry for himself, he goes out and performs, every game.
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Post by GeordieFalcon on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 3:56 pm

Its not feeling sorry for himself....

And Easter is no Parisse....

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Post by formerly known as Sam on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 4:04 pm

Easter dreams of playing like Parisse. Sometimes players just aren't on form whether the commitment is there or not and clearly Easter was having injury problems during and before the RWC. Maybe he was another injury risk that was taken but didn't pay off, ala Ben Youngs.

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Post by hawalsh on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 4:21 pm

formerly known as Sam wrote:
Everyone seems to agree that there needs to be some serious remodelling of our backrow and its balance, and I'm not sure how much it advances our cause to experiment with the flanks, then a year later remove the 8 and most likely change the whole dynamic and balance again.

Seems people are favouring Crane as a long term option as he has captained England at I think every level other than first team is still only 24 and has shown big match temprement. He is also very similar in style to Easter in that he is an old fashioned work horse 8 that makes the hard yard carries, has good hands, does the hard defensive shift in the tight and can control the ball like it's magnatised at the base of the scrum.


I rate Crane and would definitely have him in my squad if he was fit, but it's not guaranteed that he will be first choice in a year or even what sort of form he'll come back in, so not sure it makes much sense to try and build a team round that sort of speculation. I'd rather see us remodel the backrow by testing, combining and developing the young talent that is available to us now.

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Post by radelven on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 4:27 pm

RuggerRadge2611 wrote:For me a number 8 has to be a monster ball carrier to make the hard yards and tackle well. Ideally the 7 should be the fetcher and link man and the blindsider should be a chopper.

For me the England backrow unit :

6. Croft
7. Wood
8. Narraway


I agree with your sentiments of an idealised backrow, but not your conclusions. Narraway isn't a monster ball carrier, Croft tackles well, but isn't a chopper and Wood although decent at the breakdown isn't a classic fetcher.

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Post by flankertye on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 4:30 pm

I'm still gonna say anyone of croft, Wood or Robshaw play 8.

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Post by emack2 on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 5:46 pm

Pierre Spies is a grear forward but not a great Number 8.Ritchie McCaw started .Luaki,Masoe,Kaino,Vito,Thomson,Read,O`saioloMesam,Waldron[both],all competent at 6,7,8, but mostly 6/8.
Classic 8,lineout option at rear of the lineout,control base of the scrum and links with the backs.

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Post by hawalsh on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 5:51 pm

8 has the most positionally specific skills of the backrow, if you haven't played there regularly you will be severly exposed at international level. Croft, Wood & Robshaw don't have 8 attributes or remotely enough experience there at high enough a level, nor will their clubs give them regular game time there if the 8s they've got are fit.

Playing them at 8 is a muddled and wrong option, like playing Monye at FB, Armitage at OC, Stevens at LH, Flood at IC, or expecting Flutey or Wigglesworth to play FH.

Skilled positions require specifically skilled players, you can't get away at interntional level with what you can at club, OK is not good enough to succeed.

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Post by majesticimperialman on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 6:43 pm

I would like to see Dowson given a chance in the 6ns, along with Crane,

A back line of Croft, Wood, Crane,
Or Croft, Wood, Dowson.

If MJ stays in charge, i wonder how many new players he would bring into the England set up?

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Post by Hood83 on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 10:02 pm

Glas a du wrote:Easter a workhorse? Just being a plodder doesn't make him a workhorse!

I presume he meant 'carthorse'. The thought of that fat, lazy, feckless lump lumbering late to rucks long after we've been turned over time and time again is too much to bare.

Yes, Easter can make the hard yards, but if you play with some pace and ruck effectively you don;t always need a number 8 to try and crash through a wall of defenders.

He's got good hands and is a strong fecker, but he is too slow, too unfit and does not stand up against other 8s who match him physically, which currently lists as Read, Harinordiquy, Spies, Samo, Heaslip, Faletau...basically anyone.

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Post by GeordieFalcon on Fri 04 Nov 2011, 10:05 pm

I'd probably stick with :

6 Robshaw
7 Wood
8 Easter

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Post by yappysnap on Sat 05 Nov 2011, 11:17 am

Too many options!!!!

We need to play a lot of different players over the next 18 months to figure out just who is the right fit for Eng.

We have these international windows to try out back row combos and i'd try to work it like this:

6N's 2012- Aim to try out a couple of different starting 7's and keep the starting 6 and 8 the same for the moment unless forced by injuries. Have a spare 6 and 8 in the squad and perhaps give them time off the bench.

Summer tour to SA 2012- Mix it up a bit, use this tour which really means nothing to try out a few completely different back row units based around some specific playing styles. Hopefully find a new first choice 8 or at least some strong contenders.

AI's 2012- Strengthen the units we've tried out and give them more game time together. Last chance for players to mark their cards for 2013.

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Post by doctor_grey on Sat 05 Nov 2011, 12:35 pm

England need a specialist 8 who plays there in and out for his club. Easter has continued to play there for England, despite being a bit slow and porky because he plays a smart and solid 8. Frankly, he has been the best England have.
majesticimperialman wrote:I would like to see Dowson given a chance in the 6ns, along with Crane,

A back line of Croft, Wood, Crane,
Or Croft, Wood, Dowson.

If MJ stays in charge, i wonder how many new players he would bring into the England set up?
This for me makes sense. Especially through the upcoming season. Dowson is not the flashiest, and might not be the 2015 future. But for today, England need to solidify the base of the scrum and need scrappers who can fight like a dog in the breakdown. Dowson takes a backward step from nobody. With the scrum today settled, the rest of the team can be settled whilst the long term solution for 8 can be developed. Throwing someone in who might not be prepared is not the answer.

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Post by Poorfour on Sat 05 Nov 2011, 1:05 pm

Of the available players, Easter and Waldrom are closest to being in some kind of international form. Easter is still first pick for me in the short term; he's not the fastest but he is one of the smartest and has been the only England 8 of recent vintage who's looked remotely like being able to control a game at international level. He looked rusty in NZ, but then he was coming back off several weeks' injury.

Too much store is set by 8s who charge around a lot. I remember watching the Quins vs Wasps match last season when Andy Powell picked up man of the match for repeatedly running into the Quins line and achieving precisely nothing. Easter was far less visible, but his contributions were far more valuable. Only one number 8 scored that day.

Fearns and Guest deserve a look-in, but need a good run at 8 at club level first.

Robshaw has played to his usual high standards at 7 and 6 at club level, but has been far less comfortable on the few occasions he's had to play 8. He could play either for England but it depends on what the other options are. It's hard to ignore all that Croft brings, but the back row looks unbalanced with him in unless the other two players are real workhorses in the tight. I would be inclined to go with Wood, Robshaw, Easter, with Croft on the bench, until some of the younger players are ready to bring through.

I'm not too worried about whether flankers play 6 or 7. England won the RWC with a 7 playing out of position at 6 (and, when the final drop goal was kicked, a 6 playing out of position at 7), albeit an exceptional one.

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Post by Cumbrian on Sat 05 Nov 2011, 1:10 pm

I voted for Carl Fearns.

I know that he isn't playing there at no.8 at the moment, but all of his age grade rugby was in that position and you don't just forget how to play there. He was also playing so well for Sale and Bath before his injury, that I think he deserves the shot.

Look at the no.8's starting in the Premiership this week:

John Hart
Thomas Waldrom
Nick Easter
Luke Narraway
Richard Baxter
Chris Jones

Out of that lot, two are in their 30’s (Baxter and Easter), one is a solid club pro (Hart) and one is a second row playing out of position (Jones). For a 12 team Premiership, that is pretty shocking to be honest. To extrapolate from that, there are only really two no.8’s (Playing in their correct position) to choose from (Assuming that Easter is finished).

In my opinion, it is time to be bold. I’d pick Fearns as the starter, have Narraway (to cover as a flanker alongside Croft) in the squad and put Waldrom in the Saxons as cover for them.


6. Chris Robshaw
7. Tom Wood
8. Carl Fearns

They are big, strong and abrasive. All three work hard at rucking and are good ball carriers. The added advantage is that Wood and Fearns are very good at foraging at the break down too. I’d just give it a lash at this Six Nations, if you follow me.
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Post by Pm76 on Sat 05 Nov 2011, 1:42 pm

I would say that Crane will probably be England's next 8, he has lots of club experience, is very reliable and is only 24. However for the 6 nations I ould play either Waldrom or Easter as a stop gap at 8 with Croft, Wood and Robshaw competing for the 2 flanker spots. Fearns needs to be playing 8 regularly IMO to be looked at, the same goes for Robshaw.

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Post by flankertye on Sat 05 Nov 2011, 2:24 pm

I do like the look of robshaw, Wood and Fearns. I would have Croft on the bench to cover.

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Post by Hood83 on Sat 05 Nov 2011, 5:31 pm

Cumbrian wrote:I voted for Carl Fearns.

I know that he isn't playing there at no.8 at the moment, but all of his age grade rugby was in that position and you don't just forget how to play there. He was also playing so well for Sale and Bath before his injury, that I think he deserves the shot.

Look at the no.8's starting in the Premiership this week:

John Hart
Thomas Waldrom
Nick Easter
Luke Narraway
Richard Baxter
Chris Jones

Out of that lot, two are in their 30’s (Baxter and Easter), one is a solid club pro (Hart) and one is a second row playing out of position (Jones). For a 12 team Premiership, that is pretty shocking to be honest. To extrapolate from that, there are only really two no.8’s (Playing in their correct position) to choose from (Assuming that Easter is finished).

In my opinion, it is time to be bold. I’d pick Fearns as the starter, have Narraway (to cover as a flanker alongside Croft) in the squad and put Waldrom in the Saxons as cover for them.


6. Chris Robshaw
7. Tom Wood
8. Carl Fearns

They are big, strong and abrasive. All three work hard at rucking and are good ball carriers. The added advantage is that Wood and Fearns are very good at foraging at the break down too. I’d just give it a lash at this Six Nations, if you follow me.

I'd have no problem with that. It might get humped but i don't think it would be for want of effort. All have got good engines and get around the park and there should be good leadership there, something that's been hugely lacking.

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