The second round of the Heineken Cup is now behind us, and thoughts are quickly turning to the Autumn Internationals that begin in a few weeks. It won’t be long before the teams are being announced, so here are a few notes that might help those in power – and it struck me that all of these players could be stars of the Rugby World Cup next year.
I’ve had lingering doubts about Croft as an international, with concerns about his work rate and a tendency to hang around on the wing, but his performance at the weekend went a long way to dispel that concern. Croft worked tirelessly all afternoon, and he has the pace and handling skills to catalyse the offloading game for which England ought to strive.
Another Tiger that was prominent, and despite Joe Simpson’s top performance for Wasps, Youngs has to be Johnno’s number one scrum-half. Outstanding distribution, giving Toby Flood the platform from which to control the game – perhaps they should be England’s half-backs after all.
Scored all of Leinster’s points in a tense and dramatic fixture at Wembley. Calm under pressure to slot the important kicks, and his decision-making under pressure was flawless, keeping Sarries in their own half when they were chasing the game. Ronan O’Gara was handy for Munster as well, but we’ll be recommending that Declan Kidney opt for the youngster.
There were rumours that Williams was a fading force, particularly after a disappointing Lions Tour in 2009, but he showed at the weekend that he can turn a game with a moment of brilliance, and that warrants his inclusion for as long as he is fit. The clip from RugbyDump is below if you haven’t seen it already.
Photo: Patrick Khachfe/Onside Images