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England - Summer Tour

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Post by GeordieFalcon Thu 25 Mar 2021, 3:25 pm

First topic message reminder :

After an "interesting" 6n...and with the Lions tour possibly going ahead, England have a chance to send a young Saxons side full of talent on the Summer tour to USA and Canada (if Covid permits)

They have 4 games pencilled in...

12th June; England v Barbarians (Suggestions it wont go ahead)

10th July; Scotland v England
17th July; USA v England
24th July; Canada v England

So looking to the future and the AI's who would you take on the tour? Assuming its 32/33 squad size.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Mon 09 Aug 2021, 12:05 pm

Theres more than 1 way to skin a cat. If Willis gets back to pre injury form I see him Curry and dombrandt being the guys I'd like to see as first choice. We would be very good at the breakdown have the links to the backline with Curry and Dombrandt and better lineout options.

Lock options currently are OK. The only guy I want to see involved who isn't is Ribbans.

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Post by lostinwales Mon 09 Aug 2021, 12:19 pm

There is no way on earth that Jonny Hill is only 17st6. Wiki has him down as 121 kg (19 st 1 lb). I don't think he'd be in consideration if it was not for his weight.

The Kpoku twins are supposed to be pushing 20st, but to be honest all these stats seem somewhat unreliable.

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Post by GeordieFalcon Mon 09 Aug 2021, 12:19 pm

Exeters website has him as 17st 6....

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Post by No 7&1/2 Mon 09 Aug 2021, 12:34 pm

Can you really trust the stats on websites for weight and height? I'd rather just pick on whether you think they're good enough.

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Post by lostinwales Mon 09 Aug 2021, 12:40 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:Exeters website has him as 17st 6....

Fabulous isn't it. Tom Curry is listed as 17st 5. All these numbers may be BS to some extent but there is no way Hill is only 1lb heavier. It may be that the Exeter stats either date back a long way or are just about 10kg short.

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Post by GeordieFalcon Mon 09 Aug 2021, 12:42 pm

Yeah i do appreciate these stats arent always accurate.

Maybe Toms muscles are more dense Laugh

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Post by lostinwales Mon 09 Aug 2021, 12:49 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:Yeah i do appreciate these stats arent always accurate.

Maybe Toms muscles are more dense Laugh

Reference points. I am 6' and 16st5, early 50's and hopefully look fitter than I actually am. Its not a stretch to say Curry's weight is about right, having put on around 5kg in the last couple of years.

Just checked Lions website. They have Curry down as 110kg and Hill at 111kg. (Itoje at 110, AWJ 122) Bizarre

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Post by GeordieFalcon Mon 09 Aug 2021, 1:05 pm

i would say Currys weight is about right...110kg.

Johnny Hill is very tall...but maybe he just isnt all that heavy...so he could very well only be 111kg...which is about 17st 4/5.

If thats the case, then my point is that we do give away quite a bit of weight to some of the other tier one nations....

And that comes down again if Billy V is not there....


Last edited by GeordieFalcon on Mon 09 Aug 2021, 1:11 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by No 7&1/2 Mon 09 Aug 2021, 1:10 pm

More weight at 6 could mean a blindside flanker always too slow to the clear out. We saw repeatedly if it was curry or itoje as the carrier it inevitably meant slow ball at best or a turnover.

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Post by GeordieFalcon Mon 09 Aug 2021, 1:14 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:More weight at 6 could mean a blindside flanker always too slow to the clear out. We saw repeatedly if it was curry or itoje as the carrier it inevitably meant slow ball at best or a turnover.

Im happy with less weight at 6, and 7...Curry and Underhill are fabulous flankers and not small. I do think we are giving away quite a bit in the second rows though.

Only Launchbury and Kruis really have that big weight - as a tighthead lock. Sadly Kruis is away and Launchbury has his injury problems. And the next batch who have size...are all just coming on the scene yet to be established at their club.

The Kpokus, Ben Bamber at Bristol, etc...

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Post by No 7&1/2 Mon 09 Aug 2021, 1:17 pm

But that comes back to itoje being our best lock at the scrum and arguably 1 or 2 after lawes at the lineout. He's also the best at the breakdown. So yeah I suppose the old a hood big one is better than a good little one comes in slightly but....

You're probably waiting for Kpokwu or the u20s guy shoes name is escaping me to come through for a traditional looking enforcer.

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Post by GeordieFalcon Mon 09 Aug 2021, 1:23 pm

Itoje is our best lock...absolutely (Lawes is still a quality operator) and can clearly mix it with the very best and biggest, but i guess im still old fashioned in that you have an athletic lineout lock and your heavy duty tight head lock.

Itoje fits the former...but we do miss that bulk along side him, and Johnny Hill is not the answer. The Kruis Itoje combo worked very well.

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Post by Poorfour Mon 09 Aug 2021, 5:13 pm

Dombrandt would add significant heft at 8, of course. 6'4" and 120kg according to Wikipedia. Not quite Billy's size, but that makes him a credible lineout competitor.
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Post by WELL-PAST-IT Mon 09 Aug 2021, 7:19 pm

lostinwales wrote:
GeordieFalcon wrote:Yeah i do appreciate these stats arent always accurate.

Maybe Toms muscles are more dense Laugh

Reference points. I am 6' and 16st5, early 50's and hopefully look fitter than I actually am. Its not a stretch to say Curry's weight is about right, having put on around 5kg in the last couple of years.

Just checked Lions website. They have Curry down as 110kg and Hill at 111kg. (Itoje at 110, AWJ 122) Bizarre

Saints have Lawes as 115kg, I would put Hill as heavier than that.

I am 6'3" now used to be 6'41/2" 40 years ago, now in mid -late 60s still 171/2 stone and fairly trim. Just depends on your body shape, I am a back row that looks like a prop.
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Post by doctor_grey Tue 10 Aug 2021, 12:09 am

David Ribbans:
6' 7", 19 stone (according to Saints web site).
Le futur c'est maintenant.

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Post by Sgt_Pooly Tue 10 Aug 2021, 5:07 am

When Hill was selected for the Lions there was the whole debate that he was selected for his size and to match up with the SA's.....it would be strange if he was 10kg lighter than what we imagined.

Using the extremely scientific method of google imaging the guy, I'd have him around the early 120kg mark, although he does have a rather small head.

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Post by GeordieFalcon Tue 10 Aug 2021, 8:01 am

Ps just to add, and contradict myself...i do appreciate that purely mass doesnt always mean alot. Im not saying put a big guy in for the sake of it....he needs to be able to use that mass correctly at international level.

Its all about balance....and im just not quite sure we have that at the moment.

As for Johnny Hill....does he play like a tighthead lock...or is he more athletic...i would say the latter, and Johnny Gray does the grunt work with exeter.

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Post by king_carlos Tue 10 Aug 2021, 11:47 am

Do 'tighthead locks' still exist in most international sides?

Paul Willemse is the only one I can think of and he fits into the French pack as they have an unusual back row full of very tall players who are lineout options. Willemse is the only lock in international rugby I can think of that's genuinely dire as a lineout option (think Billy V) but offers bulk in the scrum and contact.

Guys like Etzebeth and Lavanini are phenomenal athletes who are very quick on kick chase and good in the air.

Kote Mikautadze of Georgia is the closest to Willemse in that he's not used in the lineout much due to Georgia often picking a lock at 6 and Beka Gordgadze, a very good lineout jumper, at 8. Mikautadze is very mobile for such a big guy when fully fit though, sadly injury means that hasn't been seen for a wee while.

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Post by GeordieFalcon Tue 10 Aug 2021, 11:59 am

But what you have described there is balance in the french team KC. Do we have that balance?
Maybe that is why Jones has persisted with Billy V and continually tinkered with Lawes at 6.

Theres no right or wrong answer...and to be honest its a mute point really when we dont have any bruisers available at the moment. (Launchbury is injured alot and Kruis is away)

There could be one or two in the kids coming through though.

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Post by Fluxy Tue 10 Aug 2021, 12:03 pm

king_carlos wrote:Do 'tighthead locks' still exist in most international sides?

Paul Willemse is the only one I can think of and he fits into the French pack as they have an unusual back row full of very tall players who are lineout options. Willemse is the only lock in international rugby I can think of that's genuinely dire as a lineout option (think Billy V) but offers bulk in the scrum and contact.

Guys like Etzebeth and Lavanini are phenomenal athletes who are very quick on kick chase and good in the air.

Kote Mikautadze of Georgia is the closest to Willemse in that he's not used in the lineout much due to Georgia often picking a lock at 6 and Beka Gordgadze, a very good lineout jumper, at 8. Mikautadze is very mobile for such a big guy when fully fit though, sadly injury means that hasn't been seen for a wee while.

I would have said Skelton was in this mould, but he has developed his speed of getting in the air and lineout mobility quite impressively for someone of his size and stature.

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Post by king_carlos Tue 10 Aug 2021, 12:31 pm

Fluxy wrote:
king_carlos wrote:Do 'tighthead locks' still exist in most international sides?

Paul Willemse is the only one I can think of and he fits into the French pack as they have an unusual back row full of very tall players who are lineout options. Willemse is the only lock in international rugby I can think of that's genuinely dire as a lineout option (think Billy V) but offers bulk in the scrum and contact.

Guys like Etzebeth and Lavanini are phenomenal athletes who are very quick on kick chase and good in the air.

Kote Mikautadze of Georgia is the closest to Willemse in that he's not used in the lineout much due to Georgia often picking a lock at 6 and Beka Gordgadze, a very good lineout jumper, at 8. Mikautadze is very mobile for such a big guy when fully fit though, sadly injury means that hasn't been seen for a wee while.

I would have said Skelton was in this mould, but he has developed his speed of getting in the air and lineout mobility quite impressively for someone of his size and stature.

I thought of Skelton but as I was looking at international rugby I left him out given he had very little impact in his test career. He improved enormously whilst with Sarries but realistically was still second choice there behind Itoje and Kruis when they were at full strength. That's with Isiekwe being used mainly at blindside in their last season there.

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Post by king_carlos Tue 10 Aug 2021, 12:36 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:But what you have described there is balance in the french team KC. Do we have that balance?
Maybe that is why Jones has persisted with Billy V and continually tinkered with Lawes at 6.

Theres no right or wrong answer...and to be honest its a mute point really when we dont have any bruisers available at the moment. (Launchbury is injured alot and Kruis is away)

There could be one or two in the kids coming through though.

For me the issue at lock isn't balance but rather quality with Kruis and Launchbury away. I think Hill's strengths at Exeter are very similar to what Kruis brought to England. I just don't think Hill is nearly as good a player.

I thin Billy has been persisted with as at his best he's got a higher ceiling than the challengers. There are very few players that consistently make yards through contact against international defences. Billy at his best does that which is priceless. He can also do it whilst making 20+ tackles a game. It's a rare combination.

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Post by GeordieFalcon Tue 10 Aug 2021, 12:45 pm

is Billy still able to make the hard yards though...he hasnt over the last few seasons. Whilst his defence has still been superb.

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Post by lostinwales Tue 10 Aug 2021, 1:03 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:is Billy still able to make the hard yards though...he hasnt over the last few seasons. Whilst his defence has still been superb.

Agreed, good and bad. He's also getting injury prone.

As always its about getting the balance right. Most of the tackles Billy makes will be against heavy duty carriers, so the issue is to make sure there are enough lumps in the front 5 who will make 15+ tackles a game.

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Post by king_carlos Tue 10 Aug 2021, 1:19 pm

Didn't Billy still make more yards after contact than anyone else in the Six Nations?

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Post by GeordieFalcon Tue 10 Aug 2021, 1:28 pm

I havent seen those stats KC...

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Post by king_carlos Tue 10 Aug 2021, 1:46 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:I havent seen those stats KC...

Pretty sure they went up on screen during one of the later matches in the tournament and someone posted them on the Six Nations thread.

Teams double up on Billy these days but he still makes yards to get over the gain line whilst sucking in defenders. We've just not been playing any rugby to see if it's still provide front foot ball. Manu being injured and Daly losing form at the same time has taken away two of the key attacking weapons going into the last RWC.

Hopefully we see the attack develop again as we did after the 2017 Lions tour when Jones seemed to settle on the personnel he wanted for 2019 and built the game plan around them.

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Post by Poorfour Tue 10 Aug 2021, 1:47 pm

Billy's decline is why I am hoping Dombrandt gets a run. He doesn't have as much outright power, but he's got the footwork to make yards post contact, and perhaps more importantly the stature and skill to be able to offload out of contact. He also picks lines that cut through defences, especially when playing off Smith. If Eddie can get that understanding working at international level, and Smith can use the likes of Sinckler and Mako in a similar way, England will be able to make yards in heavy traffic through a combination of guile and power rather than just relying on outright power.
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Post by king_carlos Tue 10 Aug 2021, 2:01 pm

I really rate Dombrandt but do wonder if international defences being much quicker to organise would stop his effectiveness. He's brilliant for Quins at picking when there's a crack in a defence and running great lines to break through. If those cracks aren't there then I worry he might just be banging his head against a brick wall.

Hitting a sharp angle off the scrum-half will be a lot less effective if he's running into a set defensive line of Navidi and Faletau as opposed to running past Mike Williams who's decided to have a burger and chips whilst working around the corner.

Dombrandt's fitness and defence have improved out of sight since breaking through at Quins so he's definitely a player with the capacity to evolve his game.

If the side are going to completely change the attacking structure then Ben Earl is still the forward that interests me most. His pace and footwork are absolutely outstanding both running support lines and just making yards in the wider channels. He's a player that could offer something none of our forwards have for a while in attack.

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Post by lostinwales Tue 10 Aug 2021, 2:18 pm

king_carlos wrote:I really rate Dombrandt but do wonder if international defences being much quicker to organise would stop his effectiveness. He's brilliant for Quins at picking when there's a crack in a defence and running great lines to break through. If those cracks aren't there then I worry he might just be banging his head against a brick wall.

Hitting a sharp angle off the scrum-half will be a lot less effective if he's running into a set defensive line of Navidi and Faletau as opposed to running past Mike Williams who's decided to have a burger and chips whilst working around the corner.

Dombrandt's fitness and defence have improved out of sight since breaking through at Quins so he's definitely a player with the capacity to evolve his game.

If the side are going to completely change the attacking structure then Ben Earl is still the forward that interests me most. His pace and footwork are absolutely outstanding both running support lines and just making yards in the wider channels. He's a player that could offer something none of our forwards have for a while in attack.

Then we are back to the Earl vs Simmonds debate. Whatever we do it does feel like time for a change.

Worth adding that Dombrandt can really shift for a fatty.

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Post by Sgt_Pooly Tue 10 Aug 2021, 2:27 pm

lostinwales wrote:
king_carlos wrote:I really rate Dombrandt but do wonder if international defences being much quicker to organise would stop his effectiveness. He's brilliant for Quins at picking when there's a crack in a defence and running great lines to break through. If those cracks aren't there then I worry he might just be banging his head against a brick wall.

Hitting a sharp angle off the scrum-half will be a lot less effective if he's running into a set defensive line of Navidi and Faletau as opposed to running past Mike Williams who's decided to have a burger and chips whilst working around the corner.

Dombrandt's fitness and defence have improved out of sight since breaking through at Quins so he's definitely a player with the capacity to evolve his game.

If the side are going to completely change the attacking structure then Ben Earl is still the forward that interests me most. His pace and footwork are absolutely outstanding both running support lines and just making yards in the wider channels. He's a player that could offer something none of our forwards have for a while in attack.

Then we are back to the Earl vs Simmonds debate. Whatever we do it does feel like time for a change.

Worth adding that Dombrandt can really shift for a fatty.

I must admit, I see no case for Simmonds to be in the discussion tbh. I'd like to see Dombrandt get a good run alongside Curry/Underhill with Earl possibly being the bench option, maybe Billy.

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Post by GeordieFalcon Tue 10 Aug 2021, 2:39 pm

4 Ribbans
5 Itoje
6 Curry
7 Earl
8 Dombrant

Now that would certainly change things about a bit. And Ribbans brings a real bit of physicality and grunt in there to compliment Maro.

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Post by lostinwales Tue 10 Aug 2021, 2:44 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:4 Ribbans
5 Itoje
6 Curry
7 Earl
8 Dombrant

Now that would certainly change things about a bit. And Ribbans brings a real bit of physicality and grunt in there to compliment Maro.

Fun and good to see what Earl can bring starting, although every time we write Underhill off he comes back and plays out of his skin.

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Post by GeordieFalcon Tue 10 Aug 2021, 2:46 pm

Underhill is the problem LIW....hes not fancy but hes brutally effective. Wait till Willis is back in contention again aswell!

We just have the problem of too many back rowers at the moment....oh for Sam Simmonds to have been a 12!!

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Post by Mr Bounce Tue 10 Aug 2021, 3:21 pm

I reckon that Eddie has a plan to incorporate specific back rowers for specific games.

Need relentless tackling and offloads?

6. T Curry 7. Underhill 8. Dombrant

Some grunt to combat a big pack?

6. Lawes 7. J Willis 8. Vunipola

Speed, speed and some more speed?

6. Ludlam 7. Earl 8. Simmonds (Granted this one's a bit lightweight, and Eddie doesn't see Sam in his plans but it's an option)

Combining someone like T Hill or Lawes at 6 with Dombrandt at 8 gives 2 line-out options as well. Ben Curry would almost be a sure-fire starter were it not for for the embarrassment of riches we have here. There are back-ups in all of the back row positions. I expect to see regular rotation, although now Tom Curry seems to be inked in somewhere on the flanks (please not at 8 again). He's an Eddie favourite and almost never gets subbed.


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Post by GeordieFalcon Tue 10 Aug 2021, 3:36 pm

Id love to see this run out some time...but i cant see it as i have the feeling Jones is still not sold on Ted Hill.

6 Ted Hill
7 Curry
8 Dombrandt

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Post by Soul Requiem Tue 10 Aug 2021, 3:42 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:Id love to see this run out some time...but i cant see it as i have the feeling Jones is still not sold on Ted Hill.

6 Ted Hill
7 Curry
8 Dombrandt

Looks a bit slow and lacking at the breakdown for an international back row, plenty of bulk and physicality but Wales and Scotland would love to come up against that. It could do for Ireland and might be an option against South Africa. It puts a lot of pressure on Tom Curry at the breakdown and for line speed.

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Post by GeordieFalcon Tue 10 Aug 2021, 3:45 pm

Yeah possibly a tad slow...and thats why i dont think Jones is sold on Ted HIll....and why they are looking at him at lock

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Post by king_carlos Tue 10 Aug 2021, 3:48 pm

6.Curry, Willis
7.Underhill, Earl
8.Vunipola

With all fit and at their best those would be the 5 back rows I'd have inked into a RWC squad. I think those 5 offer a wide range of skills depending on the tactics needed game to game. Add in Lawes, Itoje and potentially Martin as locks who can cover blindside when required. It's an area I feel really optimistic about.

I really rate Dombrandt and think he's earnt the chance to play at 8 if Billy doesn't find form early this season with Sarries. I think Billy is far from done though. Missing the Lions tour, a full preseason and being available for Sarries from round 1 will hopefully work in Billy's favour. Manu was written off about 2 dozen times but was absolutely key to the 2019 RWC run.

Ludlam and Ben Curry for me fall into the category of being very good blindsides but simply worse players than Curry, Underhill, Willis and Earl. I feel bad in Ludlam's case in particular as he was brilliant for Saints towards the end of last season and has never put in a bad performance for England.

I really like Simmonds but as I've said before I just think Earl is a similar but even better player. Earl has the same speed, footwork and eye for the tryline but I think he's stronger in the tackle and even better over the ball. If Earl were injured then I'd probably bring Simmonds straight into the squad as a replacement given I do feel that England's attack would benefit from a back row that offers that pace as a support runner.

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Post by GeordieFalcon Tue 10 Aug 2021, 3:54 pm

Sam Simmonds should be a 12. Wink

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Post by No 7&1/2 Tue 10 Aug 2021, 4:07 pm

I'm pretty interested to see how Kenningham starts the season. The difficult second album but he looked to the manor born.

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