International Scout Notes: 8th January

alex goode
Anthony Watson

With injuries aplenty in the back three, Watson looks set to make an almighty leap into the senior England squad when it is announced tomorrow. Not even in the Saxons at the beginning of the season, he is likely to leapfrog the likes of Jonny May, Dave Strettle and Jack Nowell – and why not? There is not an attribute of an international winger that he does not possess to a high standard – he is quick, strong, solid in defence, a clinical finisher and not afraid to get stuck in at the breakdown, either. Add to that the fact that he is arguably more comfortable at fullback, and you have a very enticing package. England fans should be salivating at the prospect of him being involved this Six Nations.

Joe Simpson

Simpson proved on Saturday that there is no replacement for raw pace. One scything break through the Exeter fringe defence brought Wasps back into a game that was threatening to slip away from them, while his chase down of Henry Slade – whether he actually stopped him scoring or not – was proof that there is no such thing as a lost cause. Andy Goode made the headlines for his last minute drop goal, but had it not been for Simpson, Wasps would have been out of the game long ago. Sadly for him, England are well stocked in the scrum-half department. Despite frustrating inconsistencies in the past, if he can continue this kind of form he could come into international contention soon.

Alex Goode

Goode’s jinking, almost stuttering style is not for everyone, and has been found out on the international stage at times in the past, but there is no doubt that he offers something a bit different at the back. His vision is second to none, thanks his being a fly-half at heart, which also aids his positional and kicking games. On Saturday, he showcased his ability to join the line in the wider spaces and use his playmaking nous to put others in space, while also crossing the line himself. Mike Brown is the undisputed first choice at fullback, but with Ben Foden out injured do not be surprised to see Goode feature at some point during the Six Nations, probably from the bench.

Paddy Jackson

Jackson is no stranger to the international scene, having led the Irish backline for most of last year’s Six Nations. While that was a less than excellent campaign for them, Jackson has matured as a player since then. He was instrumental in Ulster’s win over Munster at the weekend, bringing his province’s dangerous backline into the game with aplomb. With Johnny Sexton struggling for form over in France, and looking increasingly burnt out, and Ian Madigan sharing the starting duties with Jimmy Gopperth at Leinster, Jackson could seize his opportunity to make his mark on the Irish number 10 jersey if he continues to play like this.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

23 thoughts on “International Scout Notes: 8th January

  1. For the love of Jebus, not Goode…

    Surprised Ford doesn’t get a mention. To go to Welford Road, where fans are disgruntled he left, set up 3 tries (2 assists) and score 5/5 shows he has the composure. Add to that the fact in his last 3 games (Tigers, Saints, Quins) he’s made 22 tackles and missed 0, his defence is ready as well…

    1. I’m sure Goode will be there (sadly) remember “he has a lot of credit in the bank” oh and plays for Sarries. although every article about England suggests SL want to bring in “x-factor” players. Goode certainly does not fit that.

  2. That’s the first time Watson’s played on the wing for us this season…he’s put in all of his other stellar performances in at 15.

    Of course, I’m biased but Bendy has been constantly overlooked for England, would be nice to see him get the nod. Plus Kyle Eastmond offers something no other centre (bar Manu) offers.

    1. He was on the wing for us against Exeter in the LV=, and I’m pretty sure he’s come on as a replacement there in at least one other game.

  3. I would be disappointed to see Goode on the bench in the 6N. For me, I’d like to see either Nowell or Watson given the 23 shirt for the whole of the 6N, or maybe rotate the two. Both can cover the whole of the back three (which Goode can not do), and offer fan more exciting prospects.

    If the 6N started tomorrow, I’d go:
    1. Vunipola
    2. Hartley
    3. Cole
    4. Launchbury
    5. Lawes
    6. Wood
    7. Robshaw
    8. Vunipola
    9. Youngs
    10. Farrell
    11. May
    12. Twelvetrees
    13. Barritt
    14. Ashton
    15. Brown

    16. Youngs
    17. Marler
    18. Wilson
    19. Parling
    20. Morgan
    21. Dickson
    22. Ford
    23. Watson

    I know there will be some Ashton stick. But he is performing for Saracens and to be honest, I couldn’t think of many else to pick! Could throw Nowell in there, or Watson with the other on the bench, but I can’t see that happening.

    This could of course be blown out the water by tomorrows EPS squad!

    1. Not a bad call Jacob, but there is something about that 10/12/13 combination that disappoints. Even though I think you will probably see that exact combination start.

      Not sure what the sensible alternative is mind you.

      Just fitting in one of Burrell, Trinder, Joseph or Eastmond, would be my preference. Glad I’m not the coach.

      1. I agree with you there, I looked at that and was not particularly inspired. But it is exactly that, who else would you play?

        I definitely want to see that 10/12 axis moving forward as I believe it is the best for England moving forward, and Tuilagi will be in as soon as he is fit.

        Barritt is very reliable, so I can SL going with him and wouldn’t be annoyed.

        It is such a shame that Wade, Yarde and Tuilagi are all missing, as they’d all start in my book.

      2. Think it has to be Burrell in at 13 to give us some go-forward in the centre. Barritt arguably offers less in attack than Tomkins.

        Ashton is playing well for Sarries …. but will England start creating chances he can finish? I fear not and we will be left with a winger with questionable defence, good (but not express) pace and limited ability to beat people one on one. We will continue to see all of his weaknesses and none of his strengths. I would take a risk on Nowell over Ashton (though do fear he could suffer a similar fate in attack for the same reasons, but do better defensively). Benjamin looks a better fit for England’s limitations (i.e. express pace, tackle breaker and finisher) but not sure his error count is low enough yet.

        1. Not sure on Burrell, I honestly haven’t seen him play at 13 (has he!?), whereas Twelvetrees and Barritt went very well together against Scotland last year.

          Wing is a difficult one. I am convinced that Wade and Yarde would both start if fit. Nowell and Watson are both exciting but so raw. Ashton I think will end up starting by default. It’ll be difficult to pick even someone like May over Ashton. Has May outperformed him domestically? Not really.

          I feel for Lancaster in this area.

  4. Wasn’t his biggest game this weekend but Jamie Elliott at Saints has been immense for the last couple of seasons – I’d like to see him get a mention at some point. Jack Nowell seems to be the flavour of the moment but Elliott has been putting in consistently excellent performances for at least 18 months since breaking in to the squad. A proper scrappy little winger but he’s got pace and step, and is only getting better working with George North.

    Must be ahead of Strettle and May at least – I’d like to see him get in to the Saxons this time around.

  5. Got this nasty feeling we are going to see Goode in the squad tomorrow with Foden out.

    Worse still I fear we will see Eastmond demoted to Saxons. Although Burrell is intended to fill the Manu sized hole, with 36 & Barritt back I don’t think they will keep Eastmond as well. Appreciate he’s becoming increasingly specialised at Bath, but if he was good enough for the 23 shirt against the Baa Baas (coming on for Brown) I don’t see what’s changed since. Footwork, pace and running angles are what causes tired defences problems, Eastmond just looks the perfect impact sub and I’ll be gutted if he misses out.

    1. Last week, the Telegraph reported that Eastmond is being dropped to the Saxons to make way for Burrell.

  6. Interesting that Watson was played at wing at England’s behest and in the 14 shirt – same spot as Ashton. Hmm…More lives than a cat that one, have they run out? Not sure any glos players will be promoted tbh, Burns, Morgan and 12t to saty due to incumbancy.

  7. Is it likely that Watson will get a call up into the senior EPS tomorrow? I expect him to be in the Saxons squad as I don’t think Lancaster will name any replacements for the injured back three trio of Foden, Yarde or Wade but will name injury replacements later this month for the Six Nations – that is when Watson will surely be called up, along with May and another – maybe Nowell or Strettle etc. My prediction is that the squad tomorrow won’t be much different than it already is (apart from Ford in for Flood and maybe/hopefully Burrell in for Tompkins?) and I can see lots of people will be ranting about the lack of new exciting players.

    1. Watson may be nominally in the Saxons, but will effectivly be in the main EPS as injury cover for Wade & Yarde, who SL will want to retain in the full squad for the summer. Unless SL wants to send a message and demote Ashton (doubtful). Either way barring injury himself, I think it’s a near certainty that Watson will get some game time in the 6n.

      1. I completely agree and I have no doubt Watson will feature in the Six Nations. I guess my point is really about the oddities of the EPS/Saxons squad set up. What happens if Watson and/or May etc have a storming Six Nations but all the actual EPS back three are fit (and available from the start of the tour) in the summer – who is Lancaster actually allowed to take? Maybe he will take a larger squad anyway so some Saxons will go as well as the EPS players.

        1. The blessing in disguise may be the prem final. I imagine the same rules as per injured players apply. Any one of Sarries, Saints, Tigers, Quins or Bath in the final and there will slots to cover for the opeing test. Plus, and a lot of people don’t get this, SL can basicially pick who he wants for any IRB international, the EPS is there to give better access and player managment between tests, which wont really apply in this case.

    2. England press office have confirmed 35-man squad for Six Nations will be announced tomorrow, as well as changes to the 33-man EPS. Keep an eye out this afternoon for our predicted changes!

      1. Ok that makes more sense than what I read elsewhere about the EPS being announced tomorrow and the Six Nations squad (with EPS injury replacements) being announced on the 17th. I look forward to the predictions!

      2. Very interesting Jamie.

        Assuming that Corbisiero, Croft, Yarde, Wade, Tuilagi and Foden, all remain in the EPS (as they should), but are not in the 6N, that means that there will be at least 8 players in the 6N squad that will not be in the EPS.

        I guess that it at least shows the outliers that there is no “closed shop”.

Comments are closed.