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Premiership weekend of 1-3 April

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Post by doctor_grey Sun 27 Mar 2022, 12:56 pm

First topic message reminder :

Twas an interesting weekend starting with the Gloucester Worcester match being cancelled due to Covid (let's not forget it's still here) and injuries.  Didn't expect a draw between Sale and Bath.  I did think Wasps and Falcons would be close and it was.  Sarries just edged a win over Bristol, who seem to be improving.  But Farrell in the news in his first game back with a pen which could have been yellow, for a no-arms and then the leaving for an HIA.

But the biggie for me was Saints putting on a close to complete performance against a good LI team.  From about the 15 minute mark onward they dominated play in a way I haven't seen for quite a while, perhaps ever under the Boyd regime.  LI dominated early and was ahead 8-0 when Saints started to play.  The key was avoiding that frantic, hyper up-tempo constant offload style, but instead playing a quick, strong, fundamentally sound game, playing to their strengths.  Winning most of the collisions, moving the ball around, and actually taking their chances.  And then not until garbaage time did LI score again.  And as I said, this wasn't against Worcester.  

Was great to see Rib-eye abd Api looking powerful in the second row, and Api had a couple of great breaks which I never would have predicted, the back row elite, Lawes, Ludlum, and Augustus, the halfbacks in sync, Dingwall powerful and skillful at 12 (Eddie you reading this?), Collins and Skosan on the wings and the imperious Furby at the back.  

So excited, and for the first time in years Saints looked like a real team and, at least for one day and against a good team, were thoroughly enjoyable to watch.


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Post by Sgt_Pooly Mon 04 Apr 2022, 6:11 am

formerly known as Sam wrote:
Sgt_Pooly wrote:8. Dombrandt
9. Care
10. Smith

How is this not the England spine?

In the game where Care equalled the most number of yellow cards in a season? I think his best days and England chances are well behind him. I'd like to see Mitchell get a go as well or the return of Quirke.

Tizard looks increasingly handy, really a coming of age season for him. Saracens have done well to get him onboard for next season, he could combine well with Itoje.

The yellow doesn't take away from his performance and Quins impressive win. Care is so far ahead of Youngs currently, it's sad that Eddie is so stubborn.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Mon 04 Apr 2022, 7:55 am

I can understand Care being moved on but it should have been Youngs as well.

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Post by formerly known as Sam Mon 04 Apr 2022, 9:12 am

Sgt_Pooly wrote:
formerly known as Sam wrote:
Sgt_Pooly wrote:8. Dombrandt
9. Care
10. Smith

How is this not the England spine?

In the game where Care equalled the most number of yellow cards in a season? I think his best days and England chances are well behind him. I'd like to see Mitchell get a go as well or the return of Quirke.

Tizard looks increasingly handy, really a coming of age season for him. Saracens have done well to get him onboard for next season, he could combine well with Itoje.

The yellow doesn't take away from his performance and Quins impressive win. Care is so far ahead of Youngs currently, it's sad that Eddie is so stubborn.

Didn't work like that when the played internationally did it. Care only looked good off the bench.

Youngs won't tour this summer. Very likely to stay home with his young family and help out his brother. Gives a great chance from some of the other young scrum halfs to put down a marker and mean by the time of the AIs Youngs name isn't in the picture. Can't see Randall accomplishing that but Quirke might and maybe Mitchell if he can just be a little more consistent.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Mon 04 Apr 2022, 9:39 am

Youngs doesn't look any better from the bench or starting though! I was hoping he may take the opportunity to retire when he broke the England mens caps record but he'll be aiming at the WC now. And Jones likes his attitude around the camp so would suggest he'll be there next year no matter. The only way I can see him being dropped is if van Poortvliet just embarrasses him consistently but then Youngs has already played the least out if all England members in the 6Ns so don't think Jones cares whether he falls further down the pecking order.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Mon 04 Apr 2022, 9:45 am

Good to see Raynal officiating yesterday. Can only be a good thing for England and the English teams playing in Europe to get to see the demands from them from refs in the different leagues. Certainly a very different approach to the breakdown that he had from many English refs and LI seemed on top of what he was looking at very quickly.

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Post by Sgt_Pooly Mon 04 Apr 2022, 10:14 am

formerly known as Sam wrote:
Sgt_Pooly wrote:
formerly known as Sam wrote:
Sgt_Pooly wrote:8. Dombrandt
9. Care
10. Smith

How is this not the England spine?

In the game where Care equalled the most number of yellow cards in a season? I think his best days and England chances are well behind him. I'd like to see Mitchell get a go as well or the return of Quirke.

Tizard looks increasingly handy, really a coming of age season for him. Saracens have done well to get him onboard for next season, he could combine well with Itoje.

The yellow doesn't take away from his performance and Quins impressive win. Care is so far ahead of Youngs currently, it's sad that Eddie is so stubborn.

Didn't work like that when the played internationally did it. Care only looked good off the bench.

Youngs won't tour this summer. Very likely to stay home with his young family and help out his brother. Gives a great chance from some of the other young scrum halfs to put down a marker and mean by the time of the AIs Youngs name isn't in the picture. Can't see Randall accomplishing that but Quirke might and maybe Mitchell if he can just be a little more consistent.

Care was an excellent impact player but also a great starter, you seem to have a very selective memory Sam. I would perhaps that add that 4 or 5 years ago Youngs was the better player for sure, but he certainly regressed to a worrying standard were Care has ironed out a lot of his flaws (box kicking and game management for example) and has arguably improved.

Care is certainly the better player now though.

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Post by Poorfour Mon 04 Apr 2022, 10:26 am

In the Lancaster era, i was firmly of the view that the best combinations were Care/Farrell and Youngs/Ford. Under Eddie, Care certainly worked better later in the game when he could exploit the additional space, but I think he'd have been the best partner for Smith at least in the short term.

Tizard is a real talent and reminds me of a young Kruis; you can see why Saracens wanted him. From a Quins perspective, the CEO has said that he was one of 18 players they wanted to re-sign this year, and the only one who got away. I suspect they were resigned to losing him but not too upset, because they have Hammond and Jurevicius in the pipeline who look to have similar potential.

Judging by what we've seen of Hammond in the last couple of weeks, he's a year or so behind Tiz in his development but his ceiling may be even higher - he looks similarly solid in the setpiece and carrying, but is more creative (he pulled off an outrageous kick ahead from the wing in the Prem Cup game against LI for Jurevicius to score).
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Post by formerly known as Sam Mon 04 Apr 2022, 11:49 am

Sgt_Pooly wrote:
formerly known as Sam wrote:
Sgt_Pooly wrote:
formerly known as Sam wrote:
Sgt_Pooly wrote:8. Dombrandt
9. Care
10. Smith

How is this not the England spine?

In the game where Care equalled the most number of yellow cards in a season? I think his best days and England chances are well behind him. I'd like to see Mitchell get a go as well or the return of Quirke.

Tizard looks increasingly handy, really a coming of age season for him. Saracens have done well to get him onboard for next season, he could combine well with Itoje.

The yellow doesn't take away from his performance and Quins impressive win. Care is so far ahead of Youngs currently, it's sad that Eddie is so stubborn.

Didn't work like that when the played internationally did it. Care only looked good off the bench.

Youngs won't tour this summer. Very likely to stay home with his young family and help out his brother. Gives a great chance from some of the other young scrum halfs to put down a marker and mean by the time of the AIs Youngs name isn't in the picture. Can't see Randall accomplishing that but Quirke might and maybe Mitchell if he can just be a little more consistent.

Care was an excellent impact player but also a great starter, you seem to have a very selective memory Sam. I would perhaps that add that 4 or 5 years ago Youngs was the better player for sure, but he certainly regressed to a worrying standard were Care has ironed out a lot of his flaws (box kicking and game management for example) and has arguably improved.

Care is certainly the better player now though.

Actually I think Care has managed to stay at the same level for a period of time whilst Youngs has fluctuated up and down, often week to week. Care's weaknesses now are the same as they were a decade ago. Game management is still sub par. Could probably still do a job off the bench but he and Eddie's aren't pals are seen by the sniping Care does periodically from his podcast and by Eddie who refuses to consider a recall.

Youngs game management is about the only reliable part of his game. This season has been one of his better ones in a Tigers shirt and he was good in the Autumn for England. 6N was mediocre at best like pretty much the rest of the side bar Itoje. The Australia tour is the ideal time to start moving away from him. Would work better for Tigers as Wigglesworth can go to coaching full time with Youngs around to rotate all season with JVP and Edwards (Wigglesworth mrk 2).

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Post by formerly known as Sam Mon 04 Apr 2022, 11:51 am

Poorfour wrote:In the Lancaster era, i was firmly of the view that the best combinations were Care/Farrell and Youngs/Ford.

That's true, Care/Farrell worked in that regime because Farrell did the game management and Care ran the attacking game. Played to their strengths.

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Post by Sgt_Pooly Mon 04 Apr 2022, 11:59 am

Nah, Care has matured like a fine wine.....Youngs game has steadily declined.

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Post by Poorfour Mon 04 Apr 2022, 1:44 pm

formerly known as Sam wrote:
Actually I think Care has managed to stay at the same level for a period of time whilst Youngs has fluctuated up and down, often week to week. Care's weaknesses now are the same as they were a decade ago. Game management is still sub par. Could probably still do a job off the bench but he and Eddie's aren't pals are seen by the sniping Care does periodically from his podcast and by Eddie who refuses to consider a recall.

I don't think that's a fair characterisation. Care today is a subtly different player to the one he was a decade ago. He still has an eye for a gap and likes to take quick taps when they're available, but he's a much more measured player. I think that's partly a function of having Smith outside him. The Quins coaches said last season that Care now manages the game, while Smith manages the space, so I don't think it's fair to say that his game management is weak. He's also improved his tactical kicking dramatically from where it was.

However, Care is playing within a system where there's much less of a premium placed on territorial play. Quins can and will play from anywhere, and Care's game management is filtered through that.
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Post by king_carlos Mon 04 Apr 2022, 2:07 pm

I think the most tests in a row Care started was 8 spanning the 2014 Six Nations and tour to NZ. 84 caps in 10 years, across 3 coaches and a max of 8 starts on the bounce tells a story. He always has been a player with obvious strengths and weaknesses. Those strengths at international level were blunted somewhat by far stronger defensive organisation around rucks and defences resetting faster after half breaks. The weaknesses in kicking, game management and defence were magnified. It's what international rugby tends to do. Obviously a good 9 and very entertaining player against Prem defences but I didn't think he was the answer then or now.

Before this dives into a tedious discussion of Tigers bias as often happens when I express a view on players in the same position as Tigers counterparts I'd add that I want England to move onto Quirke at 9 in the summer if possible. He looks the most complete young 9 about to me.

I also said against France that I thought Young's should've been hooked at the break for instance. It just got lost in the thread as I also said I'd sub Smith because he was having a shocker too.

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Post by Sgt_Pooly Mon 04 Apr 2022, 4:30 pm

Poorfour wrote:
formerly known as Sam wrote:
Actually I think Care has managed to stay at the same level for a period of time whilst Youngs has fluctuated up and down, often week to week. Care's weaknesses now are the same as they were a decade ago. Game management is still sub par. Could probably still do a job off the bench but he and Eddie's aren't pals are seen by the sniping Care does periodically from his podcast and by Eddie who refuses to consider a recall.

I don't think that's a fair characterisation. Care today is a subtly different player to the one he was a decade ago. He still has an eye for a gap and likes to take quick taps when they're available, but he's a much more measured player. I think that's partly a function of having Smith outside him. The Quins coaches said last season that Care now manages the game, while Smith manages the space, so I don't think it's fair to say that his game management is weak. He's also improved his tactical kicking dramatically from where it was.

However, Care is playing within a system where there's much less of a premium placed on territorial play. Quins can and will play from anywhere, and Care's game management is filtered through that.

Well put Poorfour, I'd agree with that. Care has certainly fine tuned his game and is a much more complete scrum half than 4 or 5 years ago.

KC, for what it's worth, I think you're relatively unbiased in Tigers terms.

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Post by formerly known as Sam Mon 04 Apr 2022, 5:15 pm

Poorfour wrote:
formerly known as Sam wrote:
Actually I think Care has managed to stay at the same level for a period of time whilst Youngs has fluctuated up and down, often week to week. Care's weaknesses now are the same as they were a decade ago. Game management is still sub par. Could probably still do a job off the bench but he and Eddie's aren't pals are seen by the sniping Care does periodically from his podcast and by Eddie who refuses to consider a recall.

I don't think that's a fair characterisation. Care today is a subtly different player to the one he was a decade ago. He still has an eye for a gap and likes to take quick taps when they're available, but he's a much more measured player. I think that's partly a function of having Smith outside him. The Quins coaches said last season that Care now manages the game, while Smith manages the space, so I don't think it's fair to say that his game management is weak. He's also improved his tactical kicking dramatically from where it was.

However, Care is playing within a system where there's much less of a premium placed on territorial play. Quins can and will play from anywhere, and Care's game management is filtered through that.

Maybe I don't watch Quins enough but certain games I watch tend to stick in the mind. The Sale game earlier this season where Care just couldn't clear his lines and Quins spent the opening 15 minutes under the cosh with the Quins pack doing really well to force errors and keep Sale at bay. It cost Quins in the end because their pack ran out of steam in the last 10 minutes, that's one that tends to come to my mind. Maybe because it was Care Vs Quirke. If like at the weekend Care isn't dragged into a tight physical game then it doesn't matter, he's fantastic once the ball is in his hand.

It's worth noting that Quins didn't have to play in the rain on the run into their title win last season. Care had the conditions and the team to shine. As KC says how often does that happen internationally, whether we like it or not international rugby has an attritional element to it. Defences are well drilled, teams are more physical than you'll find at club level and so halfbacks in particular end up under the microscope and flaws that rarely seen in club games come to light.

I've already said it and I'll say it again before I'm (again) accused of bias but Quirke looks like the answer, he's the most complete 9 we've got coming through. I'd like to see us take a look at Mitchell as well as he's got something about him and a good all round skill set. The pair of them should be able to work with Smith at 10 and hopefully at least one of the younger batch of centres emerging in a refreshed backline.

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Post by doctor_grey Mon 04 Apr 2022, 6:05 pm

I do think Care has upped his game over the years and is one of the better 9s in the Premiership.  Whether he should suit up for England again is another question, and in the spring of 2021 that might depend whether a coach thinks he can maintain it through the RWC.

Not sure whether it is fair to ding Care for not excelling in the first half of the season.  Quins as a team rather underperformed in my opinion.  Just like last season, the blame for which which was laid at Gustard's feet.  But now with a good run of games, it seems to me Care is hitting on all cylinders again (from the admittedly limited samples size of Quins games I have watched).  

I always thought of him as a better bench option because though he can close a game, he can really light up an attack.  I also thought if he was going to be called up it should have been with Smith.  Last season, I thought he was the best 9 in the Premiership, though Faf might have something to say about that. Ultimately, this is probably a moot point and the questions revolve around Quirke, Randall, Mitchell, and of course, Youngs.

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Post by Poorfour Mon 04 Apr 2022, 6:51 pm

I think Quins' strategy this season - knowing they were likely to lose players to the AIs and 6Ns - has been to make top 4 and go into the run in with the best squad they can. That seems to have worked. They don't have a q against their name yet, and the run-in is tough, but maintaining their current form should be enough to pick up the points they need. They also have a number of players returning from injury (Wilco Louw, Will Evans), finding form (Huw Jones, who has slotted in for Tyrone Green at fullback) or coming through (the junior locks are all looking very promising). Once we're in knock out games, well, it's Quins. Anything can happen.

Quins tend to struggle when they can't play their game plan. That tends to be when they face teams based on a power game and a very structured defence, coupled with a ref who's relaxed about the offside lines and slowing things down at the breakdown. However, they are likely to go into the run-in with a back row of Lawday, Evans and Dombrandt which gives them three high work rate players who all get turnovers.

Internationally, I think it would have been very sensible to recall Care alongside Smith, so that he gets a scrum half who knows him while he settles into the international game. In practice that ship has sailed and Randall (who's played a lot of age grade rugby with Smith) seems to have taken that role. Quirke has the more exciting skill set, but we've not had much chance to see whether his delivery works for the attack England are trying to build. I could imagine Quirke being another long term bench option because of his ability to turn a game.

The one thing that is clear to me is that Youngs does not work well with the attack England are trying to build. He's fine if you're playing a territorial, kick chase based game, but his delivery has been too slow and too inaccurate to let the attack flow.
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Post by Recwatcher16 Tue 05 Apr 2022, 8:55 am

The best all round scrum half in the Premiership is Spencer who is playing behind a beaten pack and inside a very young FH. He can do it all to test standard.

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Post by Poorfour Tue 05 Apr 2022, 10:17 am

Recwatcher16 wrote:The best all round scrum half in the Premiership is Spencer who is playing behind a beaten pack and inside a very young FH. He can do it all to test standard.

I've long been a fan of Spencer but there's clearly something that international coaches think is missing. He's certainly got a very good all round game but it may be that he doesn't have the point of differentiation that coaches look for at the top level.
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Post by No 7&1/2 Tue 05 Apr 2022, 10:31 am

I don't get the point of difference thing, I really don't. Thought I did once upon a time, and thought it linked to Jones comments on something you just can't coach. But how does that apply to someone like Spencer? Which aspect are we looking for a difference to, and to whom is the standard applied to work from? Are simply saying a top class aspect in one particular area and then just below average for others aspects?

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Post by Recwatcher16 Tue 05 Apr 2022, 10:33 am

Poorfour wrote:
Recwatcher16 wrote:The best all round scrum half in the Premiership is Spencer who is playing behind a beaten pack and inside a very young FH. He can do it all to test standard.

I've long been a fan of Spencer but there's clearly something that international coaches think is missing. He's certainly got a very good all round game but it may be that he doesn't have the point of differentiation that coaches look for at the top level.

It was slightly tongue in cheek, but IF Spencer was in one of the top four premiership sides, the conversation would be about what he had done to upset EJ - he wouldn't be the only one to not fit EJ's required player profile over the last six years.
It wouldn't surprise me if he could be the perfect foil for either Smith or Ford - operating either at pace or as game management, as required. Spencer turns thirty later this year, so his time has probably gone for another WC cycle, post EJ.

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Post by Sgt_Pooly Tue 05 Apr 2022, 10:37 am

Recwatcher16 wrote:
Poorfour wrote:
Recwatcher16 wrote:The best all round scrum half in the Premiership is Spencer who is playing behind a beaten pack and inside a very young FH. He can do it all to test standard.

I've long been a fan of Spencer but there's clearly something that international coaches think is missing. He's certainly got a very good all round game but it may be that he doesn't have the point of differentiation that coaches look for at the top level.

It was slightly tongue in cheek, but IF Spencer was in one of the top four premiership sides, the conversation would be about what he had done to upset EJ - he wouldn't be the only one to not fit EJ's required player profile over the last six years.
It wouldn't surprise me if he could be the perfect foil for either Smith or Ford - operating either at pace or as game management, as required. Spencer turns thirty later this year, so his time has probably gone for another WC cycle, post EJ.

If I recall correctly, Spencer was on the bench for the WC final??? He's obviously been looked at by Eddie but just doesn't seem to be fancied....I think something was perhaps mentioned about his vocal qualities? In contrast, you have Youngs who is well up the rear end of EJ by all accounts and seemingly knows how to play the game much better.

There's a very fine between making it and not, just look at the Curry brothers.

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Post by Recwatcher16 Tue 05 Apr 2022, 11:36 am

Sgt_Pooly wrote:
Recwatcher16 wrote:
Poorfour wrote:
Recwatcher16 wrote:The best all round scrum half in the Premiership is Spencer who is playing behind a beaten pack and inside a very young FH. He can do it all to test standard.

I've long been a fan of Spencer but there's clearly something that international coaches think is missing. He's certainly got a very good all round game but it may be that he doesn't have the point of differentiation that coaches look for at the top level.

It was slightly tongue in cheek, but IF Spencer was in one of the top four premiership sides, the conversation would be about what he had done to upset EJ - he wouldn't be the only one to not fit EJ's required player profile over the last six years.
It wouldn't surprise me if he could be the perfect foil for either Smith or Ford - operating either at pace or as game management, as required. Spencer turns thirty later this year, so his time has probably gone for another WC cycle, post EJ.

If I recall correctly, Spencer was on the bench for the WC final??? He's obviously been looked at by Eddie but just doesn't seem to be fancied....I think something was perhaps mentioned about his vocal qualities? In contrast, you have Youngs who is well up the rear end of EJ by all accounts and seemingly knows how to play the game much better.

There's a very fine between making it and not, just look at the Curry brothers.

Yes Spencer was flown into Tokyo at the last minute at great expense, as Heinz the only other SH in the squad, was injured in the semi. All test players need an element of luck and timing at key points in their careers and Spencer didn't get any, in my humble opinion.

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Post by Poorfour Tue 05 Apr 2022, 1:58 pm

Certainly not as much luck as Stephen Donald!
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Post by No 7&1/2 Tue 05 Apr 2022, 2:53 pm

Sgt_Pooly wrote:
Recwatcher16 wrote:
Poorfour wrote:
Recwatcher16 wrote:The best all round scrum half in the Premiership is Spencer who is playing behind a beaten pack and inside a very young FH. He can do it all to test standard.

I've long been a fan of Spencer but there's clearly something that international coaches think is missing. He's certainly got a very good all round game but it may be that he doesn't have the point of differentiation that coaches look for at the top level.

It was slightly tongue in cheek, but IF Spencer was in one of the top four premiership sides, the conversation would be about what he had done to upset EJ - he wouldn't be the only one to not fit EJ's required player profile over the last six years.
It wouldn't surprise me if he could be the perfect foil for either Smith or Ford - operating either at pace or as game management, as required. Spencer turns thirty later this year, so his time has probably gone for another WC cycle, post EJ.

If I recall correctly, Spencer was on the bench for the WC final??? He's obviously been looked at by Eddie but just doesn't seem to be fancied....I think something was perhaps mentioned about his vocal qualities? In contrast, you have Youngs who is well up the rear end of EJ by all accounts and seemingly knows how to play the game much better.

There's a very fine between making it and not, just look at the Curry brothers.


Can't help but feel this means politics rather than rugby.

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Post by king_carlos Tue 05 Apr 2022, 3:37 pm

The Curry's are a fascinating example of how an injury at the wrong age can set someone back years.

Ben was picked for that Argentina tour ahead of Tom originally and they both looked like similarly huge talents. Ben got a nasty injury and Tom got called up as replacement, made his debut and just kept improving.

From a physical development perspective that's just such a terrible time to get an injury. When Ben was injured the twins looked very similar physically. Two years later and Tom was increasingly looking like David Pocock whilst Ben looked much the same as he did at 18 due to the injuries preventing him training in the same way.

Aaron Hinckley is another thus far sad example of this. At age grade he looked a similar sort of talent to the Curry's. For players with that much raw ability just staying available can often be the difference. If a young kid has that much talent, the right attitude and keep playing then they will naturally improve and improve. From a Tigers perspective I look at Emeka Ilione and think that if this lad just stays on the pitch then he could be incredible. Fingers crossed he has the right luck!

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Post by king_carlos Tue 05 Apr 2022, 3:52 pm

Spencer is an odd one. I see games where he is genuinely fantastic and others where he's fairly anonymous. I've always rated him but also can't help but look at him leaving Sarries at 28 without ever fully nailing down a starting shirt and wonder if there's just something lacking.

Due to him rotating behind first Wigglesworth and de Kock then just Wigglesworth I think Spencer was always younger in my mind than he actually is. I kept thinking he's just a young 9 breaking through and learning his trade sort of thing. When he was really in his mid to late twenties with a lot of club experience and playing behind one of the best club packs ever but still a bit inconsistent.

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