There’s less than a week to go until the 2008 Six Nations, and Brian Ashton must be facing a few dilemmas over selection today – the weekend saw a number of probable England starters trying to impress for their clubs, with fairly mixed results.
A headline on BBC Sport this morning reads, ‘Regan concerns ease for England’ – not in my book. That story is about a shoulder niggle, but I’m more worried about his lienout throwing.
The veteran hooker was almost single-handedly responsible for giving Worcester their first Guinness Premiership win, since he could hardly find his lineout targets all afternoon.
The lineout will be one of the key battlegrounds for England in this year’s campaign, and hooker appears to be a problem position, given that the only alternatives are George Chuter and Lee Mears.
Whoever is selected will need some top-quality lineout jumpers, but this again appears to be an issue. Steve Borthwick and Ben Kay are the pick of the bunch in this area, but neither is really a number 2 jumper. With Simon Shaw injured, Ashton may have to turn to Louis Deacon – where is Danny Grewcock when you need him?!
With these concerns in mind, I’d turn to Tom Croft at blindside as an extra lineout option, with Lewis Moody at openside and James Haskell at eight. Sadly, I think Ashton will want to stick with Nick Easter, but I’ve never been a massive fan of the Quins Number 8.
Here’s my suggested pack: Sheridan, Mears, Vickery, Kay, Deacon, Croft, Moody, Haskell.
What do you think will start against Wales on Saturday?