International Scout Notes: 17th December

jamie george

Jamie George
The calls for George to receive an England call-up are increasing, and if he continues to perform like this you can understand why. He has clearly been soaking up the experience of playing with John Smit and Schalk Brits down the years, and that is reflected in the variety of his game – he can do the work in the tight as well as anyone, but there is also an element of flair to his ball-carrying game, along with some brilliant hands. At the weekend, admittedly against Zebre, he bagged a try and an assist, while also getting through a mountain of work in defence to make 11 tackles.

Jamie Gibson
Sometimes in sport the cruelty of injury allows you an opportunity, and with Tom Croft and Steve Mafi currently out of the Tigers’ team Gibson has grabbed his by the scruff of the neck. He can at times be an uncomfortable player to watch – while he is similar in stature to Croft, there is none of the grace with which he gallops around. There is, in fact, more of the dog of someone like Lewis Moody – a combination of those two can be no bad thing. While England are pretty well stocked in the back-row positions, you are never more than a couple of injuries away from getting your shot – as Gibson has learnt this season. He has been on an England tour before, and has extensive experience in the Saxons, so would be a reasonably safe choice for Lancaster.

JJ Hanrahan
That sidestep was a thing of beauty. Hanrahan only entered the fray in Perpignan in the 78th minute, but that step in the final minute is enough to earn him a mention here. He has been sharing the fly-half duties with Ian Keatley this season at Munster, but of the two Hanrahan certainly has the most potential. He led Ireland to their best ever finish (5th) at the 2012 Junior World Championship, which included wins over South Africa and England, and was nominated for the IRB Junior Player of the Year award that year, losing out narrowly to Jan Serfontein. While Johnny Sexton is the number one choice at fly-half for the forseeable future for Ireland, no-one has stamped their authority on the back-up berth and at the tender age of 21, Hanrahan has time on his side to do just that.

Robin Copeland
The Irishman in Wales has had a breakthrough season and continued his fine form in Cardiff’s plucky win over Glasgow on Friday night. He may have a lot of work to do to usurp the incumbents in the Ireland set-up, but with a move to Munster next season on the cards he certainly has the motivation to keep these performances coming and try to break into the squad, at least. On Friday he beat three defenders – more than anyone else in a ghastly pink shirt – in several strong carries, while also putting in a big shift in defence. International recognition may still be some way off, but slowly Copeland is working his way onto the radar.

Calum Clark
Northampton’s astonishing victory over Leinster at the weekend was built on a relentless physicality, and while the likes of Samu Manoa and Courtney Lawes often make the headline for this, Clark is brutish in a different way. There may not be the attention-grabbing hits that the others make, but his intensity (that now almost clichéd buzzword in rugby) around the breakdown and sheer work-rate are more impressive than most. On Saturday evening he was Northampton’s top tackler with fourteen, while he also snaffled two turnovers to disrupt any rhythm Leinster were hoping to build. As was mentioned with Gibson, England are not lacking for options in this area, but with Clark already in the Saxons squad if he can keep his head down in a disciplinary sense further England recognition could beckon.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

15 thoughts on “International Scout Notes: 17th December

  1. Elephant in the room – I hope Calum Clark is as far away from an international cap as it is possible to be.

    I know you can’t mention him every week, so I’ll do it – Rhys Patchell again. That huge kick, the move to centre – took it all in his stride. Right up on Preistland’s/Biggar’s shoulders.

    1. What’s your beef with Clark, Brighty? Admittedly I wasn’t a fan of his after the Hawkins arm-break (thought it was deliberate and thuggish) but he seems to have reigned it in a bit, and is playing well.

      1. It’s the arm break. The cold, callous and deliberate post-play assault. He should be nowhere near pro rugby. I find it hard to stomach that he’s even allowed to play the sport again.

      2. Have to agree with Jamie. Clark has “done his time”, and is back playing well.

        Whether he is truly a reformed player is hard to say, but I feel we have to move on.

        I have to say, that I do feel there have been far more malicious acts on a rugby field than this. Whilst I do not condone what he did I do feel strongly that acts such as punching from behind, and stamping on heads, that we have seen recently, or indeed stamping on other parts of the body are just as insidious, but appear not to have the same level of criticism levels at these perpetrators as Clark seems to get. Continually.

        1. I understand your point Blub. Part of it for me is an emotional reaction when I see the clip of him doing it. Play has stopped. People are peeling away from the mass of bodies in the ruck, moving off to the restart. He looks down, sees an arm, coldly hyper extends it until the elbow shatters. Then gets up and walks off. That’s psychotic.

          I can’t justify people getting away with stamping or punching. On an emotional level I can imagine red mist in the heat of a play, the lack of certain injury. I can’t work out how to put this – but what I mean is a punch/stamp is usually done with the intent to hurt/bruise, not to shatter/maim – pulling ones arm the wrong way can only maim.

          1. I also do not feel like he has been punished. Banned on fully pay, free to train himself into readiness the moment his ban stops. I know it’s said far too often about rugby but for this one the assualt was so pre-meditated that to me it is relevant to point out that he’d be on a GBH charge if he did it anywhere else.

            1. Its a good point on the punishment and I have to say that – generally – I feel that some acts are not punished severely enough – and I agree this is one of those.

              Or, I should say, that acts are not punished severely enough at the highest level. At lower levels, bans are often far more lengthy.

            2. Whilst I also agree that Clark’s punishment wasn’t enough, you make it sound even worse than it was Brighty.

              Play had stopped a mili-second before, all players involved in the ruck were still on the floor and Hawkins was laying on top of the ball


              The act was done in a moment of madness and thuggery and was bad enough without any need to exaggerate it.

              There is definitely a question in my mind over punishments in rugby at the moment. Horwill and Mike Phillips are two stamps that spring to mind immediately and going back a bit, Hore’s assault on Bradley Davies, which if I remember rightly, he only got 5 weeks for

              More and more these acts are caught by the cameras, but it feels that the authorities view being caught as punishment enough without handing down the appropriate ban

              Clark by the standards of these bans, was dealt with harshly.

              1. Just watched it again. I can’t see anything different in to what I’ve said. Calllous. I hadn’t seen that particular clip before, would love to know what Cockerill was saying to him.

                It doesn’t matter to me what relative punishment he got – there are loads of heinous examples like the ones you quote, Healy on Cole, etc. Get tough on more of em.

                I dislike the “here is half the sentence for pleading guilty” nonsense as well.

                1. I’m on your side brighty, he should never have been allowed to play rugby again for me. It ws a despicable cowardly act

          2. I enjoy the rough stuff just as much as anyone, but brighty is right. It’s one of the few clips of a rugby game that shocks me. It’s not like Hawkins puts on a brave face, he was clearly in distress, panic and a lot of pain. Never a nice thing to see done to any man, anywhere. Certainly not in our good game we love.

  2. Not sure any of those English players have done anything that warrants international recognition… nothing beyond Saxons anyway.

  3. Ewers & Burrell.

    I know Burrell get’s a frequent mention but his physicality, destructive tackling, decent pace and sleight of hand make him essential for the 6N.

    Dickinson got a lot of rave reviews at the start of the season, but think he’s been found a bit wanting for physicality when the competition has stepped up for European level. Ewers however is a monster of a man, a big Picamoles, impresses me every time I watch him. With Morgan’s form being questionable I think there’s a good case for Ewers to come in as back up to Vunipola for 6N.

    The English guys mentioned above need a lot of people to fall over to be in contention for 6N in my opinion.

  4. It’s near the end of 2013, but that’s easily one of the best tries of the year. It’s my favourite really. Nothing Perpignan can really be falter for except being bettered, in this case.

    From deep, late in the game, under pressure, sublime offload, even better finish.
    I’m becoming a big fan of JJ Hanrahan. I think he’s got everything Sexton does and more. A very bright prospect!. A legitimate 1st. choice for 10? I certainly think he deserves his chance.

  5. As it has already been pointed out, England are balls deep in back row forwards so it would take something extra special for either of those 2 to get in the side (although I am a fan of Gibson, being a London Irish fan and everything).

    Jamie George might get to train with the first team for a bit. Bomber is a fan of picking one of the younger players with potential and giving them a bit of experience of being in and around the squad in the week leading up to a test.

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