International Scout Notes: 15th January

samson lee

Luther Burrell
Burrell’s ascent to the senior England squad for the Six Nations has been on the cards for a while, and another strong performance for the Saints at the weekend will have heartened Stuart Lancaster and his coaches that Burrell is ready to make the step up to international rugby. He offloaded more than any other player on pitch against the Ospreys, and with plenty of young, exciting talent available to England on the wings this is a trait that could bring them into the game more often – especially if Burrell is employed as a 13, as many are expecting.

Miles Benjamin
The EPS and Six Nations announcements came just too soon for Benjamin, who was unlucky to miss out even on the Saxons. Since returning to action in October last year there has been some rustiness to shake-off, but there’s no doubt his try-scoring form has been prolific. He bagged another two against Treviso at the weekend, in an assignment that turned out to be much more difficult than expected (for 60 minutes at least) for the Tigers after coming up against some spirited Treviso defence. Nevertheless, Benjamin had the wherewithal to bag a brace, and while there are plenty of new faces on the wing already in the England set-up, if he continues this sort of form he won’t be far off next in line.

Samson Lee
The young Welsh prop has developed something of a cult status already, despite still being very much in the infancy of his propping career. He may only be the tender age of 21 (a baby in propping terms), but that did not stop him from giving veteran Frenchman Julien Brugnaut a torrid time at the scrums on Friday night, enough trouble to see his withdrawal at half time. With Adam Jones coming to the end of the career, Lee’s call-up to the Six Nations squad is perfectly timed, and his impressive performances in the Heineken Cup this season have proved that the future of the Welsh tighthead jersey should be in safe hands.

Rhys Webb
The Ospreys scrum-half has been around the Wales squad for a couple of years or so, but has never really made his mark. As one of three scrum-halves called up for the Six Nations, along with the similarly inexperienced Rhodri Williams, he will be fighting it out for the role of understudy to obvious first choice Mike Phillips. Still, despite the fact his Ospreys team spent much of Sunday’s game against the Saints on the back foot, Webb still managed to put in a commendable performance which included several sniping runs and a smartly taken try. More of the same and he will add to his current tally of three caps this spring.

Ruaridh Jackson
Jackson has been in the Scotland squad for four years now, but has never really nailed down the number 10 shirt. On Saturday, however, he gave a performance that showed he might be ready to make it his own. Sandy Park is a tough place to win, especially when you find yourself 10-0 down early on, but Jackson inspired an impressive Glasgow comeback, looking particularly dangerous with ball in hand to make four clean breaks and beat six defenders in the process. He and Weir battle it out for both the Glasgow and Scotland starting shirts, but on this evidence Jackson is the right man to take both of them.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

19 thoughts on “International Scout Notes: 15th January

  1. Great to see Lee and Webb in this list. Webb looked a real prospect a few years ago but after those caps seemed to become a little too enamoured with himself and fell out of favour. Lloyd Williams has really dropped off the pace while at the same time Webb got an opportunity again at the Os when Tebaldi had some real shockers. When Webb plays well he can be great – he’s got the spikiness and physicality of Phillips but with more of the fluid passing game of Peel.

    As you say about Lee it’s already hard to separate the legend from the facts. Right now he’s the default replacement from Adam (there is nobody else) but hopefully he gets the chance to show that he really can do it. Being part of the U20s team that was the first, from any country, to ever beat the U20s ABs in a WC tournament was a good start.

    1. And as for Burrel, everyone I know, mostly Welsh, sees him as England’s best player for 13. Which clearly means that SL will use Barret the clunker instead.

      1. I agree – Bomber seems very good at bringing new players into the squad, then very conservative when it comes to actual selection. I wouldn’t mind 36/Barritt in the centres (it worked well against Scotland when Manu was out), but 36/Burrell would be my preferred choice. (In fact, Eastmond/Burrell would be mouthwatering, but perhaps to much of a leap!)

        1. 36T has been awful for Gloucs in the HC matches I’ve watched this season. Bad decision making, losing the ball in contact, poor pass selection. It’s a big hope that nearly all of that is down to playing in a poor Gloucs team?

      2. I’m wondering if he’ll play Barritt at 12 with Burrel at 13? 12T is struggling for good form in a Glos team who are mostly just struggling. Barritt has been injured, but we all know Lancaster prefers him defensively, and if he wants to play Burrell (let’s face it who wouldn’t) I think Barritt might be the safer (more conservative and less exciting) option.

  2. I’m interested in seeing a Burrell/Manu pairing (when he’s fit). I like the idea of Manu getting on the end of Burrell offloads with the gainline already breached. Think the 2 of them could create the sort of go-forward that then makes it a lot easier to get it out to the wide men (hopefully players with express pace to exploit the space Wade/Yarde/May/Watson).

    Hopefully Barritt’s showing against Toulouse will be a reminder that we don’t need to bring the human wall back to solve our midfield creativity/penetration issues.

  3. Eastmond at 12 burrell at 13 with Watson brown and Ashton out wide…mouthwatering! If this was the midfield combo ( although it won’t be!) And Young’s at 9 holding the guard in could be really creative.

    1. I’m not anti-Ashton, but he doesn’t fit in the current England team, so the prospect of him getting more caps is more eye watering than mouth watering.

  4. Don’t know if Ashton would be mouth watering, though with better combos, and Ford at 10, Ashtons tracking ability could start being useful again, would still rather the unfortunately injured Wade.

    Don’t really understand Benjamins inclusion, OK he’s fit again, but neither of the 2 tries he scored were exactly impressive, and had it not been for very poor tackling technique, he’d not have scored the first. It’s not even that he tried to beat the man, he ran forward and the guys fell off him.

    1. Dan – re Benjamin, I am completely with you. I see a lot of press saying how good he is etc, etc, and I do wonder how much of this is driven by sympathy/admiration for his previous injury struggles and hard work to come back.

      I don’t dislike him, but I do think that there are plenty of wing prospects ahead of him.

      He reminds me a little of players that I used to play with and against – plenty of pace, and strength, but often seem to be short of “game-sense”.

      1. I am up and down on the Benjamin issue- the first few games back he was woeful and I was wondering why on earth Leicester had signed him, especially given he was effectively a replacement for A. Tuilagi. I think the important thing is the rate at which he is improving, he was outstanding in the Montpellier matches, and has been good since. He certainly looks dangerous when he gets the ball, and compare him to the other Leicester wings (Thompstone, Morris, Hepetema, Hamilton) he is the only one who I think ‘something might happen’- similar to Goneva. He certainly has the strength and power to be the illusive ‘creater’ rather than just a finisher (Strettle) England are missing on the wing, but right now I think it’s just wanting to see more of the same- a bit like in Cipriani’s case.

        But totally agree with you Blub on the ‘short of game-sense’ thing, he does sometimes look like he’s wandered onto the pitch and isn’t sure what to do! Bit like Varndell was at the start.

        1. A bit like me as well, actually – in reverse.

          Plenty of game sense. Lacking in strength, pace, ability etc, etc……..

  5. Maybe I got slightly carried away with mouthwatering but my thoughts were as Dan stated – that Ashton’s support lines from an offloading centre like burrell may prove an effective weapon. Without being able to select others through Injury I think Ashton’s strengths may provide a nice contrast to another wingers speed and footwork giving more options in attack.

    On another note if indeed Goode and barritt are in I might just watch songs of praise instead!

  6. I can easily imagine Benjamin becoming a decent AP winger, but didn’t really see any sense of a step to get round players, and he’s not as big as Yarde/Nowell for smashing, and I doubt he has Varndells pace (Varndell is probably the master for using changes in pace to get past cover defence, magnificent).

    1. Benjamin is a very big unit. He’s got a couple of stone on Nowell and 1.5 on Yarde. Definitely a tackle breaker, not just a quick man.

Comments are closed.