We spoke to Joe Worsley ahead of the England’s final Six Nations match this weekend, discussing the potential Grand Slam and whether there would be another diplomatic incident before the game.
I asked first about the injury that had kept out of the England squad for the second-half of the Six Nations, and he said he’s fit and ready to go. “My neck is ok now. It was a problem for a couple of weeks, and then I picked up a knee injury, but I’ll be back next week.”
The injury came at a frustrating time, after Worsley had been a part of England’s squad for the tournament opener in Cardiff. We spoke about the competition for places in the back row currently, with Tom Wood taking his chance over the last few weeks, and Tom Croft, James Haskell, Lewis Moody and Hendre Fourie all competing for a spot on the flank.
“I’ve got a lot of catching up to do now which makes it more difficult, but I’ve been in this position loads of times before, and I’m still around. There’s a full pre-season and the World Cup warm-up games to prove myself.”
“My defensive ability is my main strength. It used to be ball-carrying, but it hasn’t been quite as good recently for one reason or another, but hopefully with a full pre-season this summer, that will improve again.”
Before any thoughts turn to the summer though, there’s a game on in Dublin this weekend, if you hadn’t heard. Worsley was on the bench in 2003 when Martin Johnson’s side last won in Ireland, but he didn’t think there were any worthwhile comparisons to make.
“It’s good that there are one or two guys like Mike Tindall and Steve Thompson that can bring that experience of playing in that environment, but I don’t think they’ll be making comparisons. The guys will have it drummed into them what to expect.”
I asked if we should expect another diplomatic incident before the match, but apparently “since then, it has been made very clear where we need to stand before the match.”
So we discussed the respective teams for Saturday looking for the key battle areas. “Ireland look a bit more cohesive than they did in the autumn. They’ve tried to develop some of the younger players, and along with the old faces there are a few guys that are relatively new.”
“If you look at the two packs, they are relatively even. There are pretty good players on both sides, but I think the forwards on our bench give England the edge. Thommo, Shawsy and Croft will make a real impact.”
And could he be drawn on a prediction for the match? “If England play like they did against Scotland, it could be a long afternoon.” For the players and spectators alike, I was thinking. “But if England produce their top game, they should beat Ireland.”
Ireland are available at odds of 2.53, whilst England are preferred at 1.53 with 188BET.
Joe Worsley was speaking on behalf of an initiative between 188BET and Top Up TV, who are offering British fans three months of top class sporting action on ESPN for free. For more information please go to www.188promo.com/espn