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Next steps for england.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Wed 09 Dec 2020, 7:33 am

Theres a couple of articles on the BBC which to me indicate exactly where england need to step up in the 6 nations. One by Matt Dawson :

'To win a World Cup, you have to be able to adapt under the biggest pressure and on the biggest occasion.

That is what the All Blacks or South Africa would do. That is what England did in 2003.

It is not always going to go your way. Even if you are overwhelming favourites, you will play some games that you know you should win that you will end up losing.

That is why I am even more pleased with England's Autumn Nations Cup sudden-death win in extra time against an inexperienced France side.

England were matched physically up front and if you look at the previous occasions when that has happened they have usually lost the game. This time they dug themselves out of it.

Eddie Jones' side are naturally going to be favourites in most matches for the next two or three years but they are going to play against teams that are not as good on them on paper but can match them if they play out of their skins.

That is what France did. They were missing so many stars who were unable to play because of an agreement with the Top 14 league but there were plenty of good French players with the potential to light it up.

No matter the circumstances, you have got to know how to win games and this was a classic example from England.

England have a chance at the Grand Slam when the Six Nations starts in two months, but they will only win it if they take their opportunities.

They have a good cycle of fixtures, with just two away matches, against Ireland and Wales.

France's performance in Sunday's final showed that the Six Nations is going to come down to them and England.

Les Bleus are the only team in the northern hemisphere that can physically compete with England over 80 minutes.

France's second team were playing at Twickenham, but a full-strength side will travel to south-west London in March for the penultimate round of the Six Nations.

To win that match, England will have to be more accurate than they were on Sunday.

They are only going to get three opportunities against a side like France. They have to score at least two of those chances if they want to win the game.

England scored one try against France, when Luke Cowan-Dickie went over in a maul
In the final, France did not get many chances. You might even argue they had one chance, and they scored one try through Brice Dulin.

That is the standard required. England, on the other hand, should have scored at the end of the first half when they were camped on France's line.

There were two chances when Elliot Daly passed to Anthony Watson on the right wing. The first, Daly passed a bit too early, and the second went to Watson's feet. They should have scored at least one of those.

'England need to recognise prime time to attack'
I want to know what England are doing in training in terms of attack. Time after time there are opportunities that England are not going for.

I do not look at the England side and see a huge threat in the backline even though individually you look at the players and think how good they are. It is all so lateral.

Against France, they went through all their usual kick and chase protocols and there were overlaps they did not want to attack.

On a couple of occasions it could be argued that it paid off because they got three points from the ensuing penalty but other times those decisions could have got them in trouble.

You get into the habit of not being able to complete those processes. If you are in the groove and used to doing it you get ruthless and you finish people off. The attack just does not seem joined up to me.

Rather than keep kicking the ball away, they need to recognise when it is prime time to attack, and England have the skills to be able to do it.

'We've not seen what Farrell has to offer this autumn'
England captain Owen Farrell has so much to offer but we have not seen it this autumn and I do not know why.

He missed four kicks against France, including one that could have ended the game early in sudden death.

All kickers, even at the standard of Owen Farrell, have off days. Most kickers would have either passed the baton on to George Ford or would not have got the ones under pressure.

The fact that he still had the mental capability to kick the penalty that won the game under the most pressure shows the animal that he is.

My concerns around Owen are just that we talk about him being a points machine but he has so much more.

For England he has been a ferocious tackler, distributor, creative player but maybe his role has slightly changed now.' And money and care:

Monye: "If this team are to win the World Cup they have to evolve their game in attack. Do you have the game to chase the game?

"England aren't going to be on top in every game they play from now to 2023. If they are to be the number one team in the world, they need to show more in their attack.

"If their attack could match their defence, this team won't be beaten. At the moment they leave the doors open for teams to get at them. It's not about being the best in the northern hemisphere, it is about beating New Zealand, beating South Africa."

Care: "When you are winning games every week and building momentum, it's because of the nuts and bolts of their game - their set-piece, brutal defence and kicking game - you probably take things like finishing four on threes for granted a little bit.

"They probably train a similar way, exactly how they play - kick chasing, waiting for errors, and they probably haven't spent an awful lot of time developing their attacking game. They are suffering almost from their own success, beating teams without having to do an awful lot."

I mean its blatantly obvious given how good our defence and set piece is (even under pressure by Woki and France) that the attack stick out like a sore thumb. We kicked alot, but kicked poorly. Normally over long and not contesting for the ball a great deal of the time (in the air). 2 things from the articles were that chances were created that should have been finished (France) and how different would we see it had Daly not butchered them. Personally I think we were a little too conservative and slow which led to alot of inaccuracies. We just didnt seem to hit the switch as we've done so well under Jones previously. It was only in the last game where Robson seemed to up the tempo and we started to look a bit more lively.

To me there is a serious question for all the back line bar Jonny May on left wing (watson to me is a question of right wing or full back). That question is there as I'd like a better balance in midfield and a new 9 and 15 but also because I dont see the point in having 2 perceived ball players in midfield playing the current tactics. May as well find our new noon and tindall.

The balance to that is that we've won the lot this year so my complaints are merely about consolidating our place in the pecking order through improvement not standing still. I think the 6 nations is a great chance to pick up a grand slam with the way the fixtures fall this year.

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Post by LondonTiger Fri 11 Dec 2020, 2:47 pm

England's first game under Eddie:

1 Joe Marler
2 Dylan Hartley (Captain)
3 Dan Cole
4 Joe Launchbury
5 George Kruis
6 Chris Robshaw
7 James Haskell
8 Billy Vunipola
9 Danny Care
10 George Ford
11 Jack Nowell
12 Owen Farrell
13 Jonathan Joseph
14 Anthony Watson
15 Mike Brown


16 Jamie George
17 Mako Vunipola
18 Paul Hill
19 Courtney Lawes
20 Jack Clifford
21 Ben Youngs
22 Alex Goode
23 Ollie Devoto

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Post by LondonTiger Fri 11 Dec 2020, 2:54 pm

Of those, Hill, Clifford, Goode, & Devoto barely featured again.

Of the starters by 2019 RWC Hartley, Robshaw, Haskell, Care & Brown were gone. With the exception of Care (who was supplanted by Youngs early) these guys kept being selected so long as Eddie deemed them the best available until they were replaced by appreciably younger players.

Always dangerous to read too much into people's past behaviour, but indications are that we could see the same again with guys like Youngs staying in the team until Eddie sees a younger player come to the fore and the old timer will be summarily ejected. He is likely to skip a rugby generation though, so those just a little younger are unlikely to make it into the setup - if Robson etc have not sealed a place by now, Eddie will probably skip them.

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Post by lostinwales Fri 11 Dec 2020, 3:03 pm

LondonTiger wrote:Of those, Hill, Clifford, Goode, & Devoto barely featured again.

Of the starters by 2019 RWC Hartley, Robshaw, Haskell, Care & Brown were gone. With the exception of Care (who was supplanted by Youngs early) these guys kept being selected so long as Eddie deemed them the best available until they were replaced by appreciably younger players.

Always dangerous to read too much into people's past behaviour, but indications are that we could see the same again with guys like Youngs staying in the team until Eddie sees a younger player come to the fore and the old timer will be summarily ejected. He is likely to skip a rugby generation though, so those just a little younger are unlikely to make it into the setup - if Robson etc have not sealed a place by now, Eddie will probably skip them.

It does feel that there is a lack of young scrum halves really making a case for inclusion. I don't know if that is being fair on the current generation or not.

Of the first group you mentioned, Hill's form fell away entirely, Clifford would of got more caps but was permanently injured (or so it seemed) prior to his retirement, Goode wasn't, at least at international level, and Devoto just seemed to fall in between the gaps, not helped by effectively having to compete against Farrell for his spot/

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Post by Poorfour Fri 11 Dec 2020, 6:15 pm

Clifford had a bad shoulder dislocation from which he never really recovered. Such a shame, because he was one of the most complete players I've ever seen.
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Post by No 7&1/2 Fri 11 Dec 2020, 6:30 pm

Poorfour wrote:Clifford had a bad shoulder dislocation from which he never really recovered. Such a shame, because he was one of the most complete players I've ever seen.

One of those players that every time he looked to be massively on form and about to be picked got injured.

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Post by GeordieFalcon Fri 11 Dec 2020, 9:04 pm

England have two cracking Hookers coming through.

Bearbary...getting the headlines...and will he go to hooker.

But Jamie Blamire with us is bloody class. Commentators cant stop talking about him. The complete hooker.

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Post by nlpnlp Fri 11 Dec 2020, 9:19 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:England have two cracking Hookers coming through.  

Bearbary...getting the headlines...and will he go to hooker.

But Jamie Blamire with us is bloody class. Commentators cant stop talking about him.  The complete hooker.

I am pretty happy with Luke Cowan-Dickie and Jamie George - I am not sure we need hookers. A centre or two would be welcome. I don't think England's general forward play was a problem in the recent games. I think the main weakness is the scrummaging of our props and Will Stuart looks pretty good at tight head. Marler can scrummage pretty well and Genge is improving.

The Ford, Farrell, Slade combo clearly doesn't work - we need a Manu who can run a hard straight line. Lawrence seems to get a lot of good reviews and hopefully gives us an option for when Manu is broken.

I am never convinced by Daly at fullback and it is unfortunate that Watson and Nowell can't stay fit.

I don't see that England have improved since the world cup final, which is worrying.

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Post by GeordieFalcon Fri 11 Dec 2020, 9:31 pm

George and Cowan Dickie are class..but i have a suspicion these two boys take it up a level. Ones to watch anyway.

Full back..well Hodge and Steward will be fight9ng for that spot in the next few years. One a 6'5 hulk the other a Balshaw style runner who is strong under the high ball and strong tackler.

I think England have changed their tactics..so their performance at thw world cup is irrelevant. They were at their peak then...this is stripped back starting again.
They will improve..then add more attacking improvements and implementation....over the next few tournaments.

Dont forget theyre doing that and thwy still won the 6n and autumn tournament.

The 6n in feb will be fascinating...

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Post by Gooseberry Sat 12 Dec 2020, 5:45 am

Is Barberry actually any good at the set pieces or is he just a flanker filling in there? Its not a problem position for England anyway.

Scrum half is a really odd one. Jones usual MO is to pick pretty raw young players to come in who have the potential to be improved, but he went to Wigglesworth then Heinz there....both players who were at the end of their shelf life.

Is amazing just how consistent the selections have been, there was some experiments when they started losing but that ended up with largely the same players just a shift in focus to playing in the opponnets half and not leaking tries.

Do feel the time is right for a freshen up in some areas if england are looking to move up another gear. Agree that they haven't really shown anything more than they had at the world cup and the same weaknesses persist. The team has had a long run of games this autumn to work together and improve but really didn't show that.


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Post by king_carlos Sat 12 Dec 2020, 11:23 pm

Barbeary had no issues at set-piece coming through the age grades at hooker. His only senior game time there so far was his Wasps debut in the PRC in 2018 and a bench appearance for Nottingham at the start of last season. That little senior game time for a front row just out of school is normal though. He's been a hooker up until these recent appearances in the back row though.

I hope Alex Mitchell can get some bench appearances at scrum-half.

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Post by Mr Bounce Sun 13 Dec 2020, 12:10 am

What Eddie needs is to have his hand forced at 9. I don't wish injury to any player but he relies heavily on Youngs. Robson only got bit part appearances this autumn.

If Youngs picks up an injury someone needs to step up. Mitchell could be that guy. I watched him against the Barbarians in 2019 and was impressed.

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Post by doctor_grey Sun 13 Dec 2020, 12:15 am

Good points.  If Youngs gets hurt, or suffers from the cumulative effect of age and a lot of contact and slows down, England are in a bit of a pinch.  All the candidates  to be the backup look good at times and not so good at others.  No one seems to have separated himself from the crowd.

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Post by king_carlos Sun 13 Dec 2020, 5:47 pm

I'm a bit surprised that Jack Maunder hasn't been looked at again since 2017. His Exeter form is very good and they play a game plan that suits Jones.

I can only guess that Jones thinks he doesn't offer anymore than Heinz or Wigglesworth (who was still getting caps throughout 2018) in attack and has less experience in performing the controlling role that Jones wants from his scrum-half.

I share LTs oft repeated statement that once a player does stand up they usually do get chances though. Hartley, Robshaw, Haskell, Care and Brown were jettisoned swiftly when other options stood up. Cole was dropped immediately after the RWC.

A lot of pundits point to Simmonds, Willis and Dombrandt in the back row but the incumbents at their best have already surpassed what the guys listed above achieved at their respective best. For instance, I rated Robshaw and Haskell very highly at their peaks but Billy, Curry and Underhill best performances in their still young careers have been outstanding. For the up coming back rows to break in they will need to be pushing the bar those guys have now set, rather than the bar set by Robshaw/Haskell which has been smashed.

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Post by doctor_grey Sun 13 Dec 2020, 9:23 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:The complete hooker.
I know her

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Post by doctor_grey Sun 13 Dec 2020, 9:23 pm

sorry, couldn't help myself

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Post by Rugby Fan Sun 13 Dec 2020, 11:19 pm

Mr Bounce wrote:What Eddie needs is to have his hand forced at 9. I don't wish injury to any player but he relies heavily on Youngs. Robson only got bit part appearances this autumn.

If Youngs picks up an injury someone needs to step up. Mitchell could be that guy. I watched him against the Barbarians in 2019 and was impressed.
That was an issue in the World cup final, as the injury to Heinz meant Spencer got a late call-up. When Youngs started having one of his off-days, Jones didn't have sufficient confidence in Spencer to put him on early, and try to change the momentum of that match. I suspect he would have put Heinz on earlier, and probably would have done so with Care, when he was still in favour.

Jones has talked about developing England's attack after the Lions series. I know he's picked up flack for that but it makes some sense. That's the same way he worked when he first took over the team, and there's not a lot to be gained from showing all your attacking intentions at the start of a World Cup cycle. With that in mind, any scrum half development is likely to come after the next Six Nations rather than during it.

Not sure if Ben Youngs will go on the Lions tour. He was selected last time, before his brother's illness meant he had to pull out. The Irish and Welsh halves looked more likely bets a year ago but Gatland chose Youngs before and might yet do again. In that case, someone else will start at 9 in our summer matches (depending on COVID-19).

Of course, it does seems a little odd to talk about taking two years to develop our attack, when these are all professional rugby players, who should have some natural instincts for the attacking side of the game. However, there's a good chance Jones expects the laws to get another tweak before the next Cup, to make it less of a risk for attacking sides to have the ball. He may well be anticipating needing a different gameplan come the 2023 tournament.

Still, there are club, provincial and regional teams around the world which already have a more natural attacking game. European Champions Cup rugby will be a chance to see whether French flair teams can pick apart the Exeter gameplan, especially now that Saracens aren't around with their version.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Mon 14 Dec 2020, 8:11 am

Sam Simmonds form continues to be electric. Extremely different style to Vunipola of course.

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Post by Poorfour Mon 14 Dec 2020, 9:13 am

No 7&1/2 wrote:Sam Simmonds form continues to be electric. Extremely different style to Vunipola of course.

The question remains whether it will translate to International level. He's one of those players - like Goode - who is excellent at club level but you wonder whether the different environment at international level will nullify their strengths. In Goode's case, the additional speed and lack of time on the ball suppressed his creativity and highlighted his weaknesses. With Simmonds, his style relies on pace and leg drive over absolute bulk, but at international level the average speed and strength of the opposition is a bit higher.

Eddie will have a summer tour squad where he can look at some new players, and with England's current form I suspect many of his regulars will be away with the Lions, Gatland notwithstanding. I can't see him experimenting much in the 6N unless he wants to change the style of play or his hand is forced by injury.
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Post by WELL-PAST-IT Mon 14 Dec 2020, 10:44 am

doctor_grey wrote:
GeordieFalcon wrote:The complete hooker.
I know her
Yellow Card

I hope she looks better than LCD
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Post by No 7&1/2 Mon 14 Dec 2020, 2:44 pm

Poorfour wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:Sam Simmonds form continues to be electric. Extremely different style to Vunipola of course.

The question remains whether it will translate to International level. He's one of those players - like Goode - who is excellent at club level but you wonder whether the different environment at international level will nullify their strengths. In Goode's case, the additional speed and lack of time on the ball suppressed his creativity and highlighted his weaknesses. With Simmonds, his style relies on pace and leg drive over absolute bulk, but at international level the average speed and strength of the opposition is a bit higher.

Eddie will have a summer tour squad where he can look at some new players, and with England's current form I suspect many of his regulars will be away with the Lions, Gatland notwithstanding. I can't see him experimenting much in the 6N unless he wants to change the style of play or his hand is forced by injury.

Hes looked good so far for England and yes it regularly takes and injury to force a chance through. As things stand it may take 2 for Simmonds to come in. I would quite like to see willis, curry and simmonds get a crack though. Lacks bulk and the traditional view of heavy carrier but they make metres them 3.

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Post by formerly known as Sam Mon 14 Dec 2020, 3:15 pm

Mr Bounce wrote:What Eddie needs is to have his hand forced at 9. I don't wish injury to any player but he relies heavily on Youngs. Robson only got bit part appearances this autumn.

If Youngs picks up an injury someone needs to step up. Mitchell could be that guy. I watched him against the Barbarians in 2019 and was impressed.

The Lions could help in that Youngs is likely to tour and then there's a summer tour for the other scrum halfs to try and impress Eddie. I doubt very much Robson, Spencer or Mitchell will get selected for the Lions.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Mon 14 Dec 2020, 3:42 pm

I know Gatland is a poor selector but we're in trouble if Youngs travels. Though would clearly be best for England. Conflicted.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Mon 21 Dec 2020, 1:40 pm

Interesting choice coming up for Jones given the confirmation that Saracens will not play a competitive game before the 6 nations. There are thoughts that overall it may suit the players given it's a lions year etc. Theres been a popular set of thoughts that Jones places a lot more emphasis on training than club games as well. Indeed when questioned he regular says club and international games are different to the amount of kicking etc required.

Cant help but feel it may take a little while for those players to raise themselves up to the right standard. With a few of Saracens lads places now offering other form players could we see a slightly different england. The players I think under lost threat are
Vunipola Genge
George LCD
Daly Malins/Watson

Cant see Farrell or Itoje shunted to the side.

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Post by Gooseberry Mon 21 Dec 2020, 3:33 pm

Cant see it being an issue for those who played through the autumn series so long as they've maintained fitness standards. Its a relatively quick turnaround to the 6 nations after an unusually long England camp.

If Genge is threatening Vunipola as Englands number one it would be because of how he's played for England, not because hes continued that through the club games. Even more complicated when you chuck the Marler fan boys opinions in the mix of course.

How sharp they are in practise , or not, could be a deciding factor but is no different to a player coming off a short injury break. Although maybe worth noting that England largely used the bench for a game to ease returning players back into the side.

I think the biggest "form" wild card could be Barberry, hes certainly got the full hype train. Could at lest find himself in the training squad again to help keep pushing him. The real question is still though is he any good as a hooker, we know he can run around and cause problems but is his set piece any good? He'd have to be very solid for England to look beyond George and LCD as the team guys. Then again it was mentioned in an interview he'd said he wanted to play centre.... Whistle

Daly out of anyone is the one I'd see as vulnerable, and thats not through lack of club game more just needing to find his best position / someone who can do the fullback basics.

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Post by doctor_grey Mon 21 Dec 2020, 3:56 pm

Well, England's mid field defense it nothing to write home about. Maybe giving Barberry a run there isn't as far fetched as it might be thought. After all with Farrell at 12, there is a limited attack. So put Farrell back at 10 and let's give it a go. What do we have to lose? Besides, if nothing else, it would be a fun discussion.........

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Post by Gooseberry Mon 21 Dec 2020, 4:13 pm

(Mutters the Burgess word)

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Post by No 7&1/2 Mon 21 Dec 2020, 4:18 pm

Gooseberry wrote:Cant see it being an issue for those who played through the autumn series so long as they've maintained fitness standards. Its a relatively quick turnaround to the 6 nations after an unusually long England camp.

If Genge is threatening Vunipola as Englands number one it would be because of how he's played for England, not because hes continued that through the club games. Even more complicated when you chuck the Marler fan boys opinions in the mix of course.

How sharp they are in practise , or not, could be a deciding factor but is no different to a player coming off a short injury break. Although maybe worth noting that England largely used the bench for a game to ease returning players back into the side.

I think the biggest "form" wild card could be Barberry, hes certainly got the full hype train. Could at lest find himself in the training squad again to help keep pushing him. The real question is still though is he any good as a hooker, we know he can run around and cause problems but is his set piece any good? He'd have to be very solid for England to look beyond George and LCD as the team guys. Then again it was mentioned in an interview he'd said he wanted to play centre.... Whistle

Daly out of anyone is the one I'd see as vulnerable, and thats not through lack of club game more just needing to find his best position / someone who can do the fullback basics.

Without games I can see fitness being an issue though. If Barbeary is in a shoot for England it'll be at 8 given hes not played hooker for wasps yet.

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Post by doctor_grey Mon 21 Dec 2020, 4:20 pm

Gooseberry wrote:(Mutters the Burgess word)
I thought the moderators would send you to Purgatory (or Birmingham) for that........

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Post by lostinwales Mon 21 Dec 2020, 5:09 pm

With Barbeary the future (at the moment) is bright but we have kind of been here before with the Dombrandt hype train.

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Post by doctor_grey Mon 21 Dec 2020, 6:21 pm

Ford is useless
Farrell is mostly useless at 12, except defensively
Slade has no position and is mis-used at 13, JJ is hit and miss at 13
Nowell is always injured
There is no real fulback.

So here is my suggestion, for which I will be rightfully slammed:

Cipriani at 10
Watson at 11
Barbeary at 12
Dombrandt at 13
May at 14
Daly at 15 - only because he can kick his goals

This will lock down our midfield defense, enable the hard straight ahead running which seems the only attack on offer these days, and still give us speed in the back three. Of course, this is just a pipe dream, but why not consign it to a post?

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Post by cb Mon 21 Dec 2020, 6:56 pm

Having watched a couple of weeks of European competition I am more than ever disappointed with England's attitude and performance during the Autumn matches. Several clubs (mainly French) having shown exception attacking talent and have really rebuffed the notion that defences are on top.

Also France or French clubs and players seem to be improving whilst England have stood still. The Autumn games were a missed opportunity.  If you do not improve and evolve, then you will go backwards.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Mon 21 Dec 2020, 7:29 pm

Just to add a little balance of the 6 games between french and English clubs this weekend english clubs won 4 of them. And england won both the 6 nations and the 8 nations.

Yea there is plenty more to come from England though.

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Post by doctor_grey Mon 21 Dec 2020, 9:14 pm

But England did lose to France in the 6 Nations and barely beat the French seconds in the Autumn.

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Post by Gooseberry Mon 21 Dec 2020, 9:34 pm

doctor_grey wrote:But England did lose to France in the 6 Nations and barely beat the French seconds in the Autumn.  

France kicked more times from hand than England during their win

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Post by Mr Bounce Tue 22 Dec 2020, 8:14 am

There are a few issues that are clear to me in Eddie's mindset. Mostly these stem from a core group of players who are the first names on the team sheet from 1-23. These players are as follows:

George
Itoje
Billy Vunipola
Youngs
Ford
Farrell
Daly
May
Curry
Tuilagi (when fit)

These are his 10 go-to players and whilst they are now all hugely experienced, there is NO alternative to them in Eddie's mind that's been blooded to a high level. Yes, there's squad players such as Slade, Joseph, Robson, Launchbury, Cowan-Dickie to name a few but mostly these guys won't shift the incumbents. We have been very lucky to have Tuilagi. He's a freak of a player, but his "straight through the middle" playing style often leads to him getting injured - we were very lucky in the World Cup that he was available all the way through. Not sure we would have got as far as we did without them.

Unlikely as it is, if both Ford and Farrell get injured we will scrabbling around for a fly half who's got little or no experience. Eddie won't go back to Cipriani, that much is certain. So we would have to start with Umaga, Smith or Simmonds. We know his aversion to Simmonds.

If Youngs gets injured, you have Robson or Heinz who are capped. Care is done at International level, so Eddie won't go back there. He doesn't like Spencer. That leaves Mitchell, or Maunder, who have 5 minutes of International duty between them.

There is no other established 8 in the squad. We'll get a flanker there on Eddie's watch before he'll promote Dombrandt because he doesn't fit what he wants. Simmonds probably won't get capped again either. Trouble is, Billy's probably only a couple of hours away from his next arm break - we need to blood some proper back up here!

Daly gets on the team sheet regardless, as he has something that Eddie likes: versatility. He also has that big boot. Unless injured, he plays. Malins is making inroads as a replacement, but he's raw. Furbank is gone.

George has Cowan-Dickie as a finisher, but Luke's been playing much better and I think only injury has affected his likelihood of knocking George back to the finisher's bench. Dunn, though solid, is not the future - if Barbeary wants to be a hooker and shows he's decent there, he'll be a shoo-in. I think we're ok at 2.

Itoje, May and Curry seem undroppable right now and with good reason. They are at the top of their game, so certainly should be there, and we do have adequate replacements available from many different clubs.

Tuilagi is key to England's successes. He has that "danger" aspect about him that none of our other centres offer. Opposition centres are likely to think "If he ain't going round me, he's going over me" and there's that tiny seed of doubt in their mind. Then a bit of Manu magic happens and we're 7 points to the good. It is no surprise that England don't seem to play as well when he's not there. The alternatives: well, Lawrence is raw and barely got the ball in the 8N, Joseph has been off form and/or shunted to the wing and Slade seems so preoccupied with his cool little offloads and kicks that play often breaks down and we lose possession.

This isn't to say we're a bad team, far from it, but with a few tweaks we could be so much more. Say what you will about Woodward, but if one player dropped out, there was always someone who could almost seamlessly drop in.

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Post by MichaelT Tue 22 Dec 2020, 9:06 am

doctor_grey wrote:But England did lose to France in the 6 Nations and barely beat the French seconds in the Autumn.  

England also beat Ireland, Wales and France on consecutive weekends this autumn. Without Tuilagi, and trying out several new caps. Thats not given enough praise either. They were all quick to say they would have lost that game a year ago, and they did - twice. Once v South Africa and the French game in Paris. Now they have won that type of game. Think it will be great for them.

I doubt France would beat Ireland, Wales and England like that. I don't even think South Africa would do that either, even with two of the games at home. New Zealand probably, but not definitely.

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Post by GeordieFalcon Tue 22 Dec 2020, 9:47 am

doctor_grey wrote:Well, England's mid field defense it nothing to write home about.  Maybe giving Barberry a run there isn't as far fetched as it might be thought.  After all with Farrell at 12, there is a limited attack.  So put Farrell back at 10 and let's give it a go.  What do we have to lose?  Besides, if nothing else, it would be a fun discussion.........

Well can we not just go back to what ive said for the last year and a half...Sam Simmonds to 12!

Problem solved.

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Post by GeordieFalcon Tue 22 Dec 2020, 9:53 am

doctor_grey wrote:But England did lose to France in the 6 Nations and barely beat the French seconds in the Autumn.  

Sorry but im really getting sick of hearing that.

There was nothing "Second" about that French side! They would have walked Wales, Italy, Ireland and Scotland off the park. half that side WILL be very much fighting for selection in this seasons 6n, players like Winger Raka, Jalibert, Woki, Tolofua, Macalou are all outstanding players..

There was NOTNING easy about that French side.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Tue 22 Dec 2020, 9:55 am

Taking it back to the original point France look pretty but theres more than 1 way to skin a cat.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Tue 22 Dec 2020, 10:03 am

I wish Dupont was english though. So very much.

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Post by lostinwales Tue 22 Dec 2020, 10:15 am

Tuilagi is such a freak that his power still makes holes in opposition defenses even at a time when those defenses are so much stronger, but there are huge questions over his future. We have to get used to playing without him (although he's not been a regular for a long time).

Outside of the grinding people into dust thing England are just not pretty to watch at the moment, apart from the odd May wonder try.

I do think the ANC France game was misleading. We did man sausage up some scoring chances, not least through Farrell making a hash of kicks he normally would not, but from the start of the 2nd half we were the better team. France did some really lovely things in the first half, and got one great try. Outside of that they hardly ever got into our 22 and were slowly and successfully ground down.

No question that the future for France is bright.

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Post by GeordieFalcon Tue 22 Dec 2020, 10:25 am

Is Ollie Lawrence the man to replace Manu?

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Post by Mr Bounce Tue 22 Dec 2020, 10:42 am

GeordieFalcon wrote:Is Ollie Lawrence the man to replace Manu?

I think that this is completely unfair on Lawrence. He is not Manu - he is a big centre with his own game. He certainly doesn't remind me of Manu much when he plays - and I think it's been unfortunate that he hasn't been given much of a chance to show us what he can do as he was barely given the ball in the 8N. I think people are comparing him like for like as he's a big lad who plays in the centre.

Hopefully we can see a bit more of him in the 6N. Give him time, and he may become the go-forward centre Jones so wants.

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Post by lostinwales Tue 22 Dec 2020, 11:16 am

GeordieFalcon wrote:Is Ollie Lawrence the man to replace Manu?

That is a very interesting question. He's been OK, but then hasn't had much ball to work with. He's not Tuilagi and we should not expect him to be a like for like replacement.

The problem in the 6N is that I suspect we are likely to persist with the Ford/Farrell/Slade combo, and Lawrence needs more time to show if he can add something. The main thing is that, unlike Furbank, he's not ruled himself out.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Tue 22 Dec 2020, 11:18 am

The things Lawrence has done hes looked good doing. Problem was the ball never got that far out very often and when it did the passing was always under pressure as it lacked accuracy. Theres no point playing a light weight playmaker style set of players if they get served tripe and thus pass it on themselves.

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Post by GeordieFalcon Tue 22 Dec 2020, 11:25 am

Mr Bounce wrote:
GeordieFalcon wrote:Is Ollie Lawrence the man to replace Manu?

I think that this is completely unfair on Lawrence. He is not Manu - he is a big centre with his own game. He certainly doesn't remind me of Manu much when he plays - and I think it's been unfortunate that he hasn't been given much of a chance to show us what he can do as he was barely given the ball in the 8N. I think people are comparing him like for like as he's a big lad who plays in the centre.

Hopefully we can see a bit more of him in the 6N. Give him time, and he may become the go-forward centre Jones so wants.

I didnt say he was Manu...i said is he the man to replace him. i didnt say he was an identical player...we all know he's not.

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Post by MichaelT Tue 22 Dec 2020, 12:00 pm

Lawrence has a kicking game, which is good I thought.

When is Nowell due back? Think he was missed too as someone who will take the ball to the line and make ground.


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Post by GeordieFalcon Tue 22 Dec 2020, 12:23 pm

The other one that always impresses me is Odogwu at Wasps. Yet he never gets mentioned anywhere.

He's a powerful pacy guy.

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Post by lostinwales Tue 22 Dec 2020, 1:11 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:The other one that always impresses me is Odogwu at Wasps. Yet he never gets mentioned anywhere.

He's a powerful pacy guy.

Is that because he's more known as being a winger? Plenty of good wings at the moment

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