Autumn Internationals 2017: England Player Ratings versus Samoa

England Rugby

Ellis Genge – His rampaging form for Leicester merited a call-up. Unfortunately, he was unable to make many telling contributions with ball in hand. He did hold his own at the set piece. 5/10

Jamie George – Finally got his chance from the start. Accurate with his darts and present around the pitch. Was it a coincidence that the game opened up after Hartley came on though? 6/10

Dan Cole – It was a surprise that he yet again played all three tests from the start. He is a more than solid presence, but needs a deputy and he looks like he needs someone to really challenge for his shirt as well. 5/10

Joe Launchbury – Went off injured, but up to that point had played in the manner we now take for granted from the Wasps man. Form permitting, he should be a starter come the Six Nations. 6/10

Charlie Ewels – A bit underwhelming, but came away with a try. Perhaps didn’t show enough around the park to displace the current top locks, but an able deputy. 5/10

Maro Itoje – Controlled the skies and carried well, but not as dynamic as we have seen him. May have benefitted from a week off to keep fit and ready for the rest of the season. 6/10

Chris Robshaw – After a cracking display against the Wallabies, we were reminded that he is definitely a 6. England struggled at the rucks and a lot of the responsibility must be taken by your openside for that.  4/10

Sam Simmonds – Showed his remarkable capabilities in flashes, but perhaps needs some more help on the ball carrying front to really come into his own. Perhaps there will be a place for him in the side, but will it be at 8? 7/10

Danny Care – I still prefer him as an impact substitute running at tired legs, but he deserved his shot. He did everything he needed to, but he did far more in his cameo last week. 6/10

George Ford – Guided a new look back-line well behind a pack that were giving him messy ball at times. Still, he really does need to back himself to produce the magic he is capable of more often. 6/10

Elliot Daly – A clear MOTM for me. He finished his tries superbly and was a constant threat with ball in hand. He just needs to get the ball in his hands more often and probably deserves a crack in the 13 jersey. 8/10

Alex Lozowski – Got himself a try, but was relatively well shackled. Solid and physical in defence, but may become a victim of the number of playmakers already in the side. 6/10

Henry Slade – A decent outing, which improved the longer it went on. It was probably nice for him to be in his best position from the start. Like Lozowski, though, will there be room for him in a backline already full of ball-players? 7/10

Johnny May – Some typically wacky and elusive lines at times, but wasn’t as involved as he would like to have been and as a result tried a bit too hard when he did get the ball. The headline will read that he didn’t get on the scoresheet. 6/10

Mike Brown – An early try got him into the game quickly. He was solid and reliable as ever and doesn’t seem too worried about the threat of Anthony Watson. 7/10

Bench – Courtney Lawes was probably the pick of the bunch. Again, most of the points were scored with the fresh impetus that they bring, which other teams just can’t handle. 7/10

Rating system

10 – World-class performance
9 – Great
8 – Very good
7 – Quite good
6 – Solid
5 – Average
4 – Off the boil
3 – Poor
2 – Bad
1 – Horror show

by Joe Large

15 thoughts on “Autumn Internationals 2017: England Player Ratings versus Samoa

  1. Overall across the three games the pack has underwhelmed in my view. Admittedly the backs have also but some different combos were tried, and often their ‘service’ from the pack was not great.

    The most annoying thing is I look at our pack on paper before a game and am always happy, but across these three games (and certainly thinking back to Ireland in the 6N) for all their ‘quality’ they seem to have been missing a bit of good old fashioned knarly, in your face attitude. Maybe this is something still left over from the Lancaster ‘we are nice guys’ era, but I’d certainly like to see the guys more vocal and spirited as at times (more so v Arg and Samoa) the pack just seemed a little subdued. I appreciate that this is not to do with individuals actual ability, but I do feel psychological edge still plays a part & I’d just like to see them more pumped as a unit.

    The breakdown also is an area that defo needs some improvement & I feel this down to still not having an out and out No 7 – but hopefully we can fix this with development of Underhill.

    1. The break down has been shoddy all year, we struggle to retain possession. Although not having a genuine open side atm would be a factor I don’t think it can excuse a pack of 8 for getting turned over so often. I personally have found this very frustrating.

  2. Not sure why Cole is so persistently under rated. He is a seriously good anchor in the tight, makes his share of tackles and is a thorough nuisance slowing the ball down at rucks and mauls. I´d much rather have that than a tight head galloping around the park ball in hand neglecting his main job. Re Rugger 80´s comment about Underhill, he has an awful long way to go before he wins enough turnover ball to justify being a first choice. As the stats showed in every game, we are seriously short of people who get over the ball quickly and effect turnovers. Launchbury is about the only one who does it consistently, and we definitely need a couple of other forwards to prioritise it more. Lozowski was more impressive than Slade, their marks should be reversed, and I wonder whether we were watching the same Chris Robshaw at all? Danny Care was extremely sharp and was unlucky that he was on the end of two unsympathetic passes that butchered two likely tries. Yes, it was entirely a coincidence that the game opened up when Hartley came on. Samoa were tired by then and vulnerable to fresh legs.

    1. I’m not so sure on the turnover stuff. Is Pocock or Hooper still managing that anymore? The change in laws this year around the ruck has completely negated a 7s ability to turn the ball over as they are being far stricter (rightly so) about a player supporting their own bodyweight. Basically, I think the need for this skill is diminishing slightly and we won’t see anyone knock out 3 or 4 of these in a game.

      I’ve still seen him make a handful over the course of the season for Bath so I don’t think there is an issue here. My biggest issue is that he doesn’t get his hands on the ball enough, either as a link man or a carrier.

      1. Agreed Jacob
        The law changes have opened the game up to more 6.5’s who clear rucks and tackle like demons all day long. There is still room for poachers but it is my feeling that it is more about identifying when it is on than hunting for them all game and therefore is a skill required from 1-15

  3. Genge deserved a 6.
    Daly at 13 would definitely be worth seeing. Other than that EJ now knows alot more about his player options. Still no perfect back row but i guess EJ has two years to develop them and find that perfect balance.

  4. I think from this point onwards, EJ has to work out what he’ll do if certain players were to get injured in the run up to the WC. For example, if the likes of Hartley, Cole, Youngs, Care, Ford couldn’t feature in a run of games, I’m not sure they could call on anyone with any experience (particularly in the EJ set-up).

    I guess they attempted this by resting most of the lions players this autumn, and they’ve gone without Billy and Robshaw in the past, I just think it’s something they need to continue to do, in order to cover the worst case scenario. (ie: Ford is injured just before WC, Farrell fails HIA early into a game)

    1. I think EJ missed a trick not giving Harry Williams more game time. Two 60-65 minute workouts v Argentina and Samoa would have either confirmed his capability at int’l level or found him out. Fifteen minute cameos do neither. What’s more i can’t see Eddie relegating Cole to the bench for the 6n thus compounding the t/head conundrum. Even if Eddie has already decided that Williams is third choice behind Cole then Sinckler,it would have been advantageous to back him as a confidence booster. You dropped the ball imo EJ.

  5. No way was Robshaw Englands poorest player on Saturday. He’s no tearaway 7 as we all know, but he is consistently effective and hardworking. The breakdown is not his sole responsibility.

  6. So mostly 5s or 6s, with a couple of 7s & an 8 thrown in. Well, this is the author’s opinion, but nevertheless, do these scores tot up for a team aspiring to win the WC? Individuals feature here (as per the heading I know), but it’s how these individuals perform as a TEAM & whether they are EFFECTIVE or not which is surely of more importance. Maybe this is the real issue facing England. Instead of just individuals’ abilities (or lack of) , as indicated by the post’s title, emphasis ought to be on such key areas as a better understanding of tactics, decision making & TEAM skills.. alongside individual skills.

    1. Of course team effort and team game-plan come into it Don P, but I also think that to win a WC you really need at least 8 of your starting 15 being ‘world class’ players in their position – this way even if the team game-plan is not firing you have enough individual quality to win a game. Now the term ‘world class’ can be interpreted differently but I see it as if you had to pull together a full match squad (including the bench) who would be in that team right now….for me England maybe would have two of Lawes/Itoje/Launch then Farrell, BV…maybe Daly for versatility. So looking at 4 – 5 players. Beyond that I would struggle to put anyone else in. Not saying the rest are bad players but I’d not call them World Class.

      Anyway this is just my view and I am sure others have theirs.

      1. Rugger80
        I think over much emphasis is placed on individuals. Rugby is a team sport, after all. A * team rather than a team of *s? Anyway what is WC? How is it measured? In terms of meters gained, carries made, tackle numbers, breakdowns, line outs won, breaks made, defenders beaten, kicks for ground/pts, points scored, tries? List goes on. Of course a team is made up of individuals whom comprise a team, but unless they click together, you can have King Kong & various super heroes in a side for all the use they’ll be if they don’t play together & understand what their & the team’s aim/s is/are. Also, I expect, as the cultures are different between the NH & SH, even the criteria are likely to be different. Don’t nec disputing yr choices regarding locks you mention, however Lawes & Launch weren’t even starters for England until recently. Food for thought maybe? Also I see Farrell as solid, fitting a certain mold, but wouldn’t compare him to B. Barrett. In terms of what the two are capable of producing, e.g., tries scored, vision, influence, it’s a different view of WC I believe.

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