Why Sheridan’s injury gives England options

The loss of “Ted” really shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who have monitored the Sale and England prop’s fitness over recent years. Another injury to his left shoulder comes after two previous operations on that area in the past, whilst Sheridan has only just returned from a lengthy injury layoff after surgery on his right shoulder. This latest setback at the age of 31 brings into harsh light the reality of whether he can continue to play rugby not just at Test level with this injury, but at any level at all consistently in the future.

Regardless, England have lost their best scrummager from the tournament, leaving Matt Stevens and Alex Corbisiero to battle it out for the loosehead prop jersey. Stevens holds the greatest experience even with his recent two year drugs ban, whilst Corbisiero showed great promise against Martin Castrogiovanni and Nicolas Mas during the Six Nations, two of the best in the business. The gut reaction is to pick Stevens for his experience, particularly given the ferocious nature of the Georgian and Romanian front rows. That being said, both players flexibility on either side of the scrum means they may be called into action on the tighthead side as well as the loose.

With Sheridan departing and not returning, England are able to call out a replacement player for the squad. Taking 5 props originally has proven to be a smart move by Johnson, though it seems highly credible that an extra prop was taken in the first place on the basis of Sheridan’s lack of match fitness and recent return from the sick bay. Whether England now need more than four props is up for debate, with Paul Doran-Jones or Tim Payne likely to have been waiting by the phone over the last 24 hours as the immediate replacements in that position.

Other options though lie away from the front row. With captain Lewis Moody’s fitness still in doubt, calling up Hendre Fourie would save time and help correct an area where England struggled against Argentina, the breakdown. Bringing in an out-and-out 7 such as Fourie might help England compete better on the floor in defence, and if the seemingly inevitable does come to pass and Moody is ruled out, then the sooner Fourie is in New Zealand and in training the better.

Further afield, England remain short of ideas and options in the backs, meaning that Riki Flutey or Charlie Sharples could be called out to add competition to the centre and wing positions. Flutey’s midfield creativity still feels like a key ingredient that England forgot to add to the pan, whilst Sharples has started the season well for Gloucester and should be waiting to replace Cueto, rather than Armitage playing out of position. All in all, Sheridan’s loss should be seen by the England management more as an opportunity to correct the imbalance of the squad, rather than a time to lament.

BC

9 thoughts on “Why Sheridan’s injury gives England options

  1. Please, please, please choose Fourie. We are in desperate need of a decent open-side flanker

    At a pinch i will accept Sharples or Flutey

    But if Tim Payne is called up, I will cry

    BTW – I’m not sure Sheridan is actually England’s best scrummager. I think he always had the potential to be the best. But injuries have always held him back and smaller props with good technique tend to give him issues as well

    He’s also never had the consistent impact round the field that a man of his size should and if I’m honest i think I would prefer Stevens and Cole. Stevens is a great scrummager, is full of energy and really gets around the park. Cole is becoming a very good prop and puts in bags of tackles every game

    Stick Corbisiero on the bench and we’re sorted

    1. See I prefer Exeter’s Tom Johnson as an openside option ahead of Fourie. Okay so he’s lacking in test match experience but he shone for the Saxons and I’m still yet to be convinced by Fourie.

      1. I like Johnson as well Rachel, but as he wasn’t even in the original squad (stupidly so in my opinion) I think Fourie is more likely

  2. Well on the prop front, I think we should start with Stevens nd have Corbisiero on the bench. For me that’s an easy decision. The difficult decision is who do you bring in to replace Sheridan as far as numbers in the squad. We don’t need another prop, we’ve still got four. Personally I think we’ve still got enough cover in the back row, with Lawes an option, once his ban ends. It is the creative area w need the extra number. Personally I don’t think Flutey is the answer. For me Sharples is the man. Cueto is still a doubt (even if fit) as he’s not produced any form yet. Armitage, although a good player, is NOT a winger and he proved it against the Argies. Bring in Sharples now, and if Moody doesn’t get fit, send him home, and get Fourie in.

  3. Fourie, any day of the week, after the first game one thing we can all agree on is the backrow is a problem area, specifically the breakdown, fourie would give us somehting there. Watch Wales control the breakdown against the boks and you see how crucial it can be, more than the lineout or the scrum, I think, but anyway England are quite good in those areas at the moment.

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