International Scout Notes – 24th Oct

Conor MurrayBen Youngs
Leicester got their Heineken Cup campaign back on track this weekend with a vital win over Ospreys. This result was largely down to the excellent work of Youngs and Flood. However the former gets my vote this week following his reaction to his performance against Toulouse. Eddie Butler stated in the Guardian, “Youngs is far more likely to want to be left alone” as he doesn’t enjoy the spotlight, and with the added pressure on him from Coach Richard Cockerill, the young scrum half really needed a performance. The 23 year old certainly provided, with excellent decision making and a try, showing his critics that there is a reason is he in the England set-up. Whether he will start at number 9 in the autumn internationals remains to be seen.

Steffon Armitage
Toulon’s Armitage contingent continued to impress this week with Steffon taking the headlines as he proved to be the difference in his teams encounter with Cardiff Blues. The call for Armitage’s England spot is gathering momentum with Jonny Wilkinson the latest to emphasise the flankers ability, stating, “guys like that are gold dust”. There is no denying Armitage’s presence around the breakdown. However, his stature is backed up with a brain and there are currently very few ball -winning flankers playing as well as the number 7. Hopefully Lancaster can be swayed to venture as far as southern France to add to Steffon’s 5 test appearances.

Conor Murray
The young Irish scrum half was the stand-out performer as Munster cruised to victory over Edinburgh this weekend. The youngster showed great character to remain unfazed by his role in last week’s loss to Racing Metro 92 and came away from the game as man of the match and with a well taken try. Asides from getting on the score sheet, his partnership with Keatley worked extremely well as they orchestrated and dictated Munster’s game plan. Whether it was home advantage or a strong presence of mind from Murray that earned the Irish team their bonus point, the number 9 will be hoping to add to his 12 international caps as displays such as this will surely retain Declan Kidney’s interest.

Paddy Jackson
20 year old Fly-half Paddy Jackson’s impressive 14 point haul proved the difference as Ulster defeated Glasgow Warriors in a hard fought encounter. Although Jackson is going to have a lot of work to do for a call up this autumn there must be something going right, as this was Ulster seventh consecutive victory. A calm head certainly rests upon this youngsters shoulders and this is emphasised through Ulster’s table topping form in the RABO Pro 12.

Ben Botica
With Nick Evans set for a spell on the sidelines, Harlequins summer acquisition is proving to be an adequate replacement. Ben Botica racked up 20 points as he kicked his side to victory in Ireland. The number 10’s decision making and passing was also of a high standard and he played the conditions very well, keeping the ball in hand in the windy conditions. The New-Zealand born fly-half qualifies for England and is beginning to cause a murmur within the media. Son of Frano Botica, famous throughout Rugby League, he is continuing to impress. He has big boots to fill in stepping in for Nick Evans but if continues to perform as he has been there will certainly be no reason to suggest why he can’t push for international recognition.

10 thoughts on “International Scout Notes – 24th Oct

  1. Is it just me or did Youngs’ return have anything to do with Floods best performance of the season so far. Oh yes!!!!! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Flood is a totally different player with Youngs at 9. He’s still great, but with Youngs there, it just gives him much more confidence. The question is is Youngs ready for the AI’s? If England play Flood and Care, it could be a very different game for England than if we have Youngs at 9.
    Should Lancaster start with Youngs and Flood?

    1. I do agree that the Youngs and Flood partnership is very appealing, and may well work better than any other option England have. I would feel for Danny Care if he was not selected though, he has been playing out of his skin all season for quins!

      For me it is literally a toss up between the two: Youngs makes Flood play better; but Care has performed very well over the past few months and deserves a chance…

      In other words, I don’t know who I’d start so good luck to SL!

      1. I think Youngs needs to put in a string of decent performance before he should be given a look in at starting for England again. The odd bright spot amongst a lot of mediocrity and poor decision-making shouldn’t sway Lancaster too much, i hope

        I’d have Simpson and Dickson ahead of Youngs in the current pecking order, with Care starting.

        Am also hoping that Lancaster throws Burns in for the game against Fiji. Flood and Farrell really aren’t cutting the mustard at fly-half and Burns deserves a chance

  2. As you’d expect, I’ll throw a Welsh guy in there – Tipuric. He was at the centre of the Ospreys excellent 70 minute performance, almost dragging the Os to an unlikely win at Welford Road. I suspect Warburton will still start for Wales (partly because I think Howley is more conservative in selection than Gatland) but would hope and pray that Warburton and Tipuric will get one game each in the AIs before the NZ game so we can try and pick the most on form player for that big one.

    1. Would really like to see Tipuric tested properly at international level.

      Its a shame that Wales aren’t playing South Africa as it would be interesting to see if he can cope with the physicality.

      In the absence of Lydiate, can Warburton play blind-side? Or would that just be shoe-horning him in for the sake of it?

  3. Sam’s a bit small for a six? I’d start tipuric, the guy has been a talisman for the ospreys this season and puts in a heavy shift at the breakdown every game he plays. He’s disrupting and stealing a lot more ball than Warburton, who I think needs time to settle down and get a string of good games under his belt after his injury.

  4. Oh, I’d probably say that Stefan armitage is one of, if not the best back row forward with the ball on hand in the world. He pops up everywhere during a game, he passes, carries, scores tries. Plus he’s mustard over the ball at a breakdown. I know SL has done so much good for England, but he’s really going to get the dick of the day award if he overlooks Stefan.

    1. I think the problem for SL is the same one that Howley is now facing. They just don’t know if they’ll be available for training etc. If Armitage gets selected, but Toulon won’t release him to train with the squad, it makes no difference how good he is. If he can’t train with the England squad, he can’t play. If we could negotiate a deal with the French clubs as with the Premiership teams…………..?

  5. Spot on Dazza! but imagine a back row of Morgan, Robshaw and Armitage….problem is if SL thinks Robshaw is in the team to be a 7 and not a 6, does he get rid of him, and his his captain ang go with a guy who hasnt been around the england set up since 09?

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