If Henry Slade’s time isn’t now, when is it exactly?

slade

slade

Well, to be honest I can probably answer my own titular question – it will be after this World Cup. Slade is a player of such quality that his time will come – that is inevitable.

The question is, why has he been included in this World Cup squad only to be kept on ice? When Jonathan Joseph was ruled out with an injury, Slade was the most obvious replacement because he is the only other centre in the England squad with an ounce of creativity in his bones.

Slade has been familiar to fans in Devon for some time now. And even to the sporadic Aviva Premiership viewer, he has been on the radar for at least a season and a half. Why has it taken this long for him to get into the squad? And now he is here, why the hell is he not being picked?

Sam Roberts wrote a brilliant piece yesterday about how Stuart Lancaster and his coaches rely too much on science when they pick their teams and devise their game-plans, and their fear of picking Slade for the Wales game certainly confirmed that.

Indeed, the fact that it has taken him so long to win his first England cap is indicative of a wider selection trend in this England coaching group: ‘selection by numbers’. The likes of Twelvetrees, Burrell and even Joel Tomkins (remember him?) will all hit their lines, make their tackles and produce some excellent data to be analysed afterwards. But will they produce that moment of difference that only players of true vision and skill can?

Those mentioned above are all fine athletes and you certainly need physical robustness in your backline these days. But when New Zealand see a talent like Malakai Fekitoa or Nehe Milner-Skudder, they fast-track them straight into the team. They know the best way for a player to convert his potential is to play on the biggest stage. Learn by doing. Sure, there will be mistakes, but they will be outweighed by the benefit to the team in the long-run.

England seem so crippled by this fear of mistakes that they refuse to bet the house on a player of genuine talent like Slade. They have wasted caps on safer options and painted themselves into a corner where they have several hard-working players with handfuls of caps each, but were forced to field a back-line against Wales without a single midfield player that could unlock a defence.

Fekitoa and Milner-Skudder have far fewer caps for the Highlanders and Hurricanes respectively than Slade does for Exeter. Even South Africa, a nation hardly known for their progressive selections, spotted Jesse Kriel and saw fit to throw him into their team after just a single season of top level rugby.

The back three is currently the best part of this England team – Watson, May and Brown are all in insatiable form. How often did they get the ball from a pass against Wales? I’m struggling to remember many opportunities they had that weren’t kick returns, other than May’s try that was a result of some sneaky rucking and good vision from Ben Youngs.

To be clear, I have a lot of respect for Lancaster, Farrell and Rowntree and what they have done for the England side since the shambles that was 2011. No-one wants a return to those days. But you can bang on about culture all you want – if you can’t get selection right, you are going to come in for criticism as an international coach. I do not think it is unjust to question whether they have reached their limit as a coaching group.

A final thought – what influence, if any, does Mike Catt have at these selection meetings? Catt was a player of rare vision, who had little trouble unlocking a defence with the right kick or pass. A player not unlike Henry Slade. Surely he cannot be happy to see England continually pick such one-dimensional back-lines?

If Jonathan Joseph is not fit to play Australia, then Henry Slade simply has to come into the team. England were not awful against Wales, and wholesale changes are not necessary (and almost certainly won’t be made). They just lacked a player that could provide something a bit different. Slade is that man; his time is now.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

64 thoughts on “If Henry Slade’s time isn’t now, when is it exactly?

    1. This would be my back line too, with Ben Youngs again at 9 if fit. Otherwise bring Care in. I like Wiggys game management but that’s not what we need at the weekend.

    2. I would start Ford – more chance of getting the ball to Ford with attacking dynamism.

      Definitely agree with 12&13. They played great together in the first warm-up. And that’s one of the key points in the article isn’t it? Players clearly demonstrate ability and potential but management strangely revert to selections that have *not* worked so well.

  1. Last paragraph in particular is spot in. England were not completely awful in all facets of the game. Scrum and line was good. Breakdown and defense were really strong for an hour. However, we massively lacked something in attack. Barritt simply has to go; but I’m pretty convinced we’ll see the same center partnership walk out on Saturday.

    I was in Auckland in 2011 to see us play miserably against France, and I also have tickets to the Australia game on Saturday. If we lose and go out of the WC, I wonder which one will be considered worse in the long run?

  2. Andrew, only change for me is to swap Farrell and Ford though with Slade in it is a difficult call for no 10. Would prefer someone else on the bench with 2 fly halves in the side but there is no one who could come in and add anything, perhaps Goode instead of Ford but Farrell and Nowell ok. This assumes JJ is not fit, if he is then Slade on the bench with Nowell.
    We could do with a more versatile no 9 like Austin Healy who could play in more than 1 position from the bench

  3. The back line was picked to combat Wales’ playing style – which was to simply smash into the back line. Twice they did something different, in the first half they exposed Burgess’s woeful Union inexperience and only a desperate scramble defence saved England’s blushes, in the second half a dogleg left a gap so big it wasn’t even possible to run at anything other than space which resulted in the try.
    With such confidence in his comments I can only assume that the writer has been at every England training session, sat in on all the coaching discussions and has analysed how each combination of centres work together – as I’m sure he knows, rugby teams are selected in units, not individuals.

    1. Steve, obviously I have not been doing what you said, but I’m not sure it was necessary to write it – it’s an opinion piece, I’ve given mine, you’re entitled to yours. Have you been at all the training sessions yourself then? As I would assume not, your opinion is only as valid as mine.

      To respond to your actual points, I didn’t think at the time – and I still don’t – that picking a team merely to combat an opposition’s strength is the right thing to do. What about playing to your own strengths? Why try and run over the top of Wales when it has been proved in past games that the way to be successful against them is to run around them?

      As for units, the most successful English centre unit that I’ve seen since the Six Nations has been Burgess and Slade. Personally I would actually keep Barritt in the team and have Burgess as an impact sub, with Slade at 13 and Farrell at 12.

      1. Now that is an interesting concept. Assuming you would go for Youngs at scrum half (although if you were after quick ball and high tempo Care may be a better option). As much as I relish the idea of having 3 10,s on the field I am a fan of Burgess and feel he should start at 10.

        Jamie if the centres are Burgess and Slade who would you pick at 10? I think Farrell deserves the starting birth but it will only be answered by calls of daddy’s boy and boring.

        Is Ford really that much better? In attack sure (though let’s remember the opening warm up game against France with Farrell at 10) but defence no. Watching Wales I would have panicked over every kick. Farrell offers that security. Also it can only be beneficial that, as they have played together for so long, they have an understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Thoughts?

        1. Ford on form is better than Farrell at unlocking defences however he has been struggling for form lately and has kicked badly out of hand so currently Farrell is the better option. Also he is not as poor in attack as many would have you believe

          And please don’t start talking about playing three 10’s as much as I didn’t want to see 3 defensive centres last weekend I don’t want to see 3 flair 10’s this weekend. It sounds like trying to out Australia, Australia, a bit like last weekend was trying to out Wales the Welsh

        2. I didn’t agree with dropping Ford for Farrell last week, but after the way he played against Wales I wouldn’t drop Farrell now either.

          More crucially though, don’t bring Ford on if all you want him to do is kick high balls. They did that against Wales, and it does not play to his strengths. If you want the game to be played more quickly, bring him on. If you need to keep things tight, leave Farrell at 10.

          1. Jamie, much as I agree that Barritt has done eff all so far,the comparison between this game and the Slade/Burgess warm up V France is slightly spurious. Right now the Aussie back line is far more slippery and dextrous than the French one was in that game. Therefore it would make more sense to me to pick Barritt to partner Slade,purely because he has more experience and is slightly more mobile than Slammin.

            As you rightly say it all comes down to opinions in the end.

  4. A slightly devil’s advocate question, but if he was put onto the bench how would it be felt if it was Ford to miss out? There’s a logic there when it comes to the best injury cover from the bench.

  5. On current form and based on previous games I think Farrell should start. He was sound last Match. Only issue was when they took Burgess off. He was brilliant. Maybe not everything in attack but exactly what was needed in defence.

  6. God it’s going to be like Sven Goran Eriksson and Theo Walcott in the Soccer WC 2006 isn’t it? Manager blinkeredly refusing to make the obvious selection despite the whole country screaming for it. I’ll tell you what if Bomber doesn’t pick Andrew’s team for Aus I may well have to turn on him like all the fairweather clowns 🙁

    Re. Farrell/Ford – I think to drop OF after being one of England’s stand-outs in the Wales Tragedy would be maybe as baffling as the decision to drop GF in the first place. Hindsight etc…

  7. Great article. Spot on in my opinion. I think someone mentioned it above that the team was picked to combat Wales game plan and I think that’s true but I don’t know why? In the 6N we proved that a different game plan can beat Wales. We have some really potent finishers in the team and they just didn’t get many chances at all to show what they’re capable of.

    The point about Catt is bang on the money. I’m just finishing re-reading his book and I just can’t imagine how he’s just sitting there not saying anything. I really hope he’s in the Slade camp and backing him to get into the team if JJ is not fit. If anything it’ll make Australia think a bit more about what the team will bring to the park on Saturday.

    1. That closeup of Catt in the dying minutes on Sat was harrowing. He couldn’t tolerate even looking at the pitch. I read it as total despair and anger – probably the latter because it wasn’t the side he would have put out. Wonder how long he will stick around if something doesn’t change.

      1. Brighty I admire your inside knowledge of our coaches and coaching structure. However your comment is complete pie in the sky unless you are actually on first name terms with them. It is possible that he was aghast that we let it slip away, or the camera panned to him when someone had just done something stupid on the pitch, or etc etc. Were I to make such sweeping comments about the Welsh coaching team without a shred of evidence, I can imagine what your reaction would be!

        1. What a weird response. Sure. Nobody else ever attributes a motive to Lancaster unless they know it as a fact. Nobody has said he is scared in selection or doesn’t have the gumption to run an open game. Nobody could say that because of course they do not know for sure.

          I grow tired of your sniping when I post things. I was clear with “my reading” ie “I think”. Are we going to get all tedious now and insist all posts are prefaced with “in my opinion”?

          As for your last comment – I seem to recall you making plenty of comments about why Gats selects who he does and why he plays the way he does. Guess you must work closely with him.

          1. Wrote a long reply which disappeared in the ether somewhere. To cut a long story short. Didn’t mean to snipe, but my opinion and your opinion are fair but trying to ascertain the mindset of others is just guess work. That was my point, just not made well.

            1. Cheers. I agree it’s guesswork but nearly everything on here is. We guess the motivations behind selection decisions, tactics, decisions on whether to go for the posts for a draw…..

              I take your point about Catt, it just struck me when I saw that cutaway to him, and it was quite a long one where he just stared at the floor, that he seemed pained by something more than just the immediate play. Guesswork mind.

        2. What’s up Staggy – is it your time of the month or something?

          A blind man can see that Catt is being ignored by the head coach and selector – Andy Farrell. It was a reasonable hypothesis that he was too despairing to look at the pitch. don’t blame him.

  8. “If Henry Slade’s time isn’t now, when is it exactly?”

    I suggest a spell in Rugby League, a transfer to Saracens and ability to tackle with his face would make him undropable

    “England side since the shambles that was 2011”

    That would be the last time we won the 6n?

  9. 2011 yep that was the RWC year too wasn’t it. Didn’t England conduct themselves so well on and off the field in that tournament

    1. Lancaster’s greatest achievement has been convincing everyone just how bad 2011 was …

      Some novice coaches went to a world cup, MJ was too close to the players and there was a bit of a “amateur rugby lads on tour” culture about it. It was ill advised, poorly managed and shouldn’t have happened. Even so still probably only scores a 6 on the Gavin Henson scale of poor off field behaviour. I was fuming we went there less fit and less prepared that our rivals, selected poorly, played badly and conducted ourselves in a less than acceptable manner. That does not make Lancaster the saviour of English rugby, the mechanic put the car on the road, the engineer needed to design a better car he is not.

      2011 will be nothing in comparison with being the worst performing host nation in the history of the comp, the title that awaits us if we lose, what I see is a 40:60 game, on Sat

    2. My point being Enoch that lazy one sided comments about Johno ignore the home and away test series wins vs Australia and a 6n. Yes the World cup was an absolute shower, but we shouldn’t ignore his successes too. He achieved more than Lancaster has.

  10. Hmmm when referring to the other English centres who play it by the numbers and make their tackles, 12T wasn’t the first name I was thinking of! And I’m a fan of his. Personally think England wrecked 12Ts confidence for a while. He can see space and make passes, but is prone to the odd mistake I admit.

    Anyway agree with Andrew’s backline. If SL doesn’t have faith in Slade and Burgess to start a game why have them in the squad? Always been a supporter of Barritt, but please SL not at 13. In fact we have Barritt, Burgess and Farrell who can all play at 12 but only Slade left (subject to JJ injury) who can play 13. He may be inexperienced but that didn’t stop the Welsh backline against us in the last 20!

    Everything crossed for Saturday, and sorry to wish it but come on Fiji, we need all the help we can get!

  11. Why the constant admiration of Lancaster’s turning around, if someone wants to call it that, of England’s culture? Rugby is full of men who’ve come into dysfunctional teams and turned them around – all without commissioning films on Englishness, getting ex soldiers in to deliver talks and having culture and awareness guidelines and classes.

    Gats came in after the Welsh team had a meltdown in 07. There was a player led coup that led to the Fiji debacle – the team refused to play a structured game that would have beaten Fiji. The captain practically got into a fight with Eddie Butler on live TV. The 07 coaching team were racking up expenses bills that would have seriously worried the AA. The same group of players had driven our first grand slam winning coach for 3 decades to actually leave the sport. Dwarf tossing and bungee jumping doesn’t even come close to this. Gats solution? Sack all the self important knobheads, get new players in, quick five mins of what he will and will not accept – Grand Slam.

    Australia – all over the place. Players in trouble with the law. Sexual harrasment claims, people sleeping with staff, etc. Beaten by all comers (except Wales :-)). Chieka comes in, lays down the law – Rugby Championship title.

    These are the coaches that deserve plaudits for turning things around by concentrating on the rugby results, not a man who came into the best resourced Union in the world and just threw its money around on having movies made about what it means to be English while creating a spreadsheet driven culture that the greatest HR bores in the world would be proud of.

    That’s a long rant but it’s been boiling due to everytime I see “Kudos to what Lancaster did with the culture after 11 but …” comments. He’s not turned the rugby around and that’s what he’s there to do.

    1. Once the media have a narrative, it is almost impossible to divert from it, even when it has long since stopped being true. Tait never shook off the Henson tackle, even after he made it to a world cup final, Cipriani is still regarded by a shirker in defence, Easter is a thinker, Farrell is a test match animal and so on.

      SLs greatest trick was getting the media onside early and keeping them onside with strategic leaks and inside info. It is why I don’t buy into his nice guy Eddie shtick. I think he I calculating, self serving and out of his depth. He learned from a master, one Rob Andrew.

      1. Whilst I’m not a fan I don’t think he is lacking in integrity.

        I was pi**ed off to see this quote attributed to him on Monday though (ESPN)

        “I didn’t sleep much — I was lying awake thinking about it,” he told the press on Sunday morning at our 10am meeting with him. “It takes a while — I was up early, getting ready for you guys!”

        I would prefer the all consuming thought right now was “how am I going to beat Australia” not “how am I going to present this to the media”

    2. Brighty, I sort of get you not understanding what SL did as you’re not English. I still reckon that what he did for the culture, and bringing some pride back was necessary. Not convinced that the coaching has been a complete success since, but I backed him to this world cup. I would be happy if we got as far as the semis, (however unlikely that looks at the moment!) which with the team we have will be a good result. Do I want him to stay after? As time goes on I find myself thinking no. He did a job that needed doing at the time, however you may scoff about Englishness videos, but I think he has probably now taken us as far as he can. You can feel lucky that you have such a strong sense of Welsh identity without all of your neighbours forever chipping away at you branding you arrogant if you do well and a joke if you don’t. Being English is not necessarily easy!

      1. SL did a very good of resolving the cultural issues. There were problems to solve and he did such a good job at it they were all resolved by the first game of the 2012 6N.

        But since we needed to do more than park the bus further away.

        But Brighty makes an excellent point on Cheika, Aus were in a far far worse state off the field and not great on it as the only team the could consistently beat over and over and over again were Wales. He too should get credit for sorting out the off field stuff, but a rugby championship win is a spectacular achievement from where they were plus a small player pool.

        …. now we may just need him to keep the other winning streak going as well ….

      2. I can understand you not agreeing with me but it’s nothing to do with me not being English. Plenty of English people agree with my POV on this matter.

        English rugby wasn’t as broken as it is now painted to be and he hasn’t done anything amazing. Pride in the shirt? Do you really think you could teach Farrel or Mike Brown to have pride in the shirt with a video and a workshop? You can tell them the importance of not dicking about and that’s enough. It’s all a smokescreen to hide the fact that he hasn’t won anything. I gave two examples of coaches who sorted out the culture issues with much less fanfare and then went on to win things so SL deserves nothing more than an acknowledgement that he helped out with it but not as effectively as better coaches in other nations.

        As for the rest of what you say … I’m going to assume you had your tongue in cheek when you said it because nobody could actually really try and say that being English is tough because people have a go at you … If you did mean it then I’m afraid I might come over all Enoch and start going on about the Welsh Not, land ownership and the flooding of villages for drinking water …

        1. Staggy, please for the love of God stop making it worse for yourself. Brighty is right. You cannot contest that a better coach would have sorted out the culture with less fanfare, and hypothetically would have achieved better results.

          1. Jay, I’m not arguing that. I said that SL sorted out a culture which was a necessary job. And this was as much for the fans to have faith that professional rugby hadn’t turned the England team into a bunch big overpaid footballers, as it was for the players. Unfortunately he hasn’t sorted out matters on the pitch as well as I had hoped. However it isn’t over until the fat lady sings and SL has a chance to do us proud yet in this RWC. At the end of the day a loss to Wales, however much it hurt was a loss to a team ranked higher than us, and when you look at a composite 15, there would have been more Welsh in there than English. So let’s hope we can upset the Aussies, who whatever Chielka wil say are definite favourites.

    3. Agree with both Staggy and Benjitt on this. Bomber is one slippery SOB. “We won’t hang players out to dry”, thereby doing exactly that! Paul Ackford claims he has told Lancaster that he is too nice to be an int’l coach,that he lacks the hard nosed mentality to tell it as it is.

      I think he lacks a backbone.

  12. I’m surprised by how many people would want Burgess running our defence. Impact sub maybe, but he is patently not fully there positionally in a union backline.

    1. I didn’t see him caught out of defensive position much against Wales. Barritt created a huge gap for the Welsh try (while Burgess was off the pitch).

  13. So JJ is back in training, so it’s looking encouraging he could be fit to play.

    If fit:
    10 Farrell
    12 Burgess
    13 JJ

    23 Slade (but not upset if Nowell got the shirt)

    Please no bull that now JJ has played a game with Barritt that this is somehow a well oiled combination and gives Barritt a free pass, he’s going to be more familiar with a clubmate anyway.

    Please, please, please do not give Alex Goode the 23 shirt. If we go down we must go down swinging and 18 caps and no tries for a back 3 player is not the kind of impact I want off the bench.

    If JJ is not fit, then Slade into 13 and Nowell 23

    Are there any reports on Youngs?

      1. Not sure who would be best placed to have the role as defensive captain tbh

        Farrell, Burgess and Slade have been our best combination thus far and I doubt either Burgess or Slade were given the responsibility on debut. Farrell is not lacking a pair of lungs so I wouldn’t be surprised if he was calling the shots. I would not be against that combination being selected, but I do think JJ’s excellence in the 6N and some club familiarity with Burgess makes him a better partner for Burgess than Slade.

        We’ve been defensively robust with and without Barritt, so I don’t see no Barritt = no defence.

        If the post match assessment of Barritt is “made his tackles and willingly took the ball into contact 5/10” I doubt it’s the sort of performance that will help see us through. We must see it as “must win” not “must not lose” and select accordingly.

        1. Apparently Slade is a good communicator and having played accross the backline knows all the roles well so would assume he would be given the role of defensive captain

  14. It would be nice if SL had some semblance of a strategy. He’s expressed a desire to have a ball player on midfield (Slade or Joseph) or power runner (Burgess and Many before him). I just don’t get where Barritt fits. I’ve said it before, but if tackling is so vital why not play Robshaw at 12.

    1. Don’t think robshaw would be any slower.
      Personally think Lancaster puts too much emphasis on training. So and so trained really well so he has to play…
      It’s true to an extent but there are factors you can’t train-temperament, composure, vision etc
      I take nowell as an example (pre note I like May as a winger) but May struggles in the six nations, gets dropped for nowell who comes in and is one of our best players against Scotland and France. We hear May trains well and he gets three starts in the warm ups, nowell gets one in a bad team performance away to France, still plays well but then doesn’t get a look in.
      The rationale of it confuses me. As I say, I like May a lot, think his pace is potent. But just don’t think their is a consistency to selection.
      Selecting by stats just got an England cricket couch sacked – it doesn’t work.
      Think too the selections are hurting the team, not giving players the foundation to perform. The centres, second and back row all lack balance.

  15. The most effective backline would be youngs, farrell ,slade and barrittt (back in his usual role marshalling the defence at 12.) use Burgess as an impact sub. Burgess does not yet know enough to organise the defence

  16. Well said Brighty! I groaned on first seeing the newly decorated England changing rooms a while back,Lancaster driven ‘marketing messaging’ all over the walls.What crap.As you pointed out with Gatland and Chieka it is ultimately reminding people it is about the shirt..and that is final.Too many fans elevate Lancaster to Englands great saviour,when under him coming second is the norm.
    It is my opinion that he isn’t up to the job.Ok everyone?

    1. Alanska
      I fully share your view about SL being out of his depth.I am at Twickenham this Saturday and will do everything I can to support my country but if we fail I want his resignation and all the other coaches + Robshaw on my desk on Monday morning.

  17. I’ve read Lancaster’s book and he seems a likeable character. I cannot believe he would gamble so much on a player with so little Union experience, though, seems reckless. If Scott Williams had not been injured the story might have been very different and the Lancaster selection less defensible. As a Welsh fan I was extremely worried by the English backs and what they would do if they got the ball. I won’t wish you good luck because that seems disingenuous, but may the best teams win.

  18. Sadly i think slade is a victim of favouritism, Joseph is a example of this how long did it take for Joseph to get the 13 shirt while other players like burrell or barritt seemingly leap frogged him. Then there is Kvesic who will never get past Clark come post rwc i expect clark to eventually take over either woods or robshaw one day, with kvesic still in saxons. Going back to slade his time may come during summer tour next year because of lions tour which hopefully allow Slade to prove himself assuming barritt is not in his way at either 12 or 13 shirt.

    Concering most of our team i would start ford and B.young together why because they are one of our best 9 & 10 partnership we have when they are at their best. For the 12 shirt it has to be slade, or maybe Burgess? but never Barritt, because Matt Giteau will enjoy exploiting barritts weakness if anyone remember toulon vs sacarens final. Though i rather go with slade with burgess on the bench i’ve have to pick the one who i think will be less exploitied by Giteau.

    One last thing is Barritt i feel doesn’t pair well with Ford who prefers an attacking based centre e.g Eastmond, Barritt fit in with Farrell on the 12 shirt only. Who skills sets compliments him on the game managment farrell gives us.

  19. This may come across random and is more a response to comments than the article.

    Issue 1 – Lancaster played to counter Wales strength being a huge issue, by definition your playing someone and letting them dictate the terms which suit them play to your strengths then put the opposition in an uncomfortable situation will always yield better results.

    Issue 2 – Englishness movie is hilarious whilst culture may rally supporters England isn’t short on them don’t try to change the culture to evolve a few backward player mentalities pick the players with the right mentality and shape the team around them. Spend the money on training sessions.

    Issue 3 – sack Lancaster with the players at his disposal and he hasn’t won anything of merit yet. No point looking at just 1 game, where is ur grand slam?? You need to chop of the lions head and try again with a new mentality

    Issue 4 – the anti English stuff gets old we have rivalries and 6n bring them out and being in same World Cup group was bound too, we all think or want our team to win problem is England did it once now they expect two 2nd favourites with no basis Ireland have performed better in recent years and have an easier group. I’m happy if Wales match the semi’s from last time or given our group a win over Aus would be like Christmas – manage expectations and the ego tag will disappear in time

  20. Telegraph is reporting it will be Farrell, Barritt and Joseph with Burgess on the beach in place of Goode. Morgan at 8, Launchbury in for injured Lawes, Kruis and Haskell on the bench

    No decision on whether Youngs is fit yet

    Forgetting the lack of Slade for a second I find it difficult to believe that Easter is not involved. He covers 8, blindside and lock. He adds something different from the bench but he is also an experienced player who plays week in, week out with Robshaw. I can’t imagine a better player to have on the bench for a do or die game. Instead we have the inexperience of Kruis and Haskell, who is not an 8 and had little to no impact when introduced last week

    1. Times has that as well for starting although not as much about the bench, but also that Youngs is recovering well and has been pencilled in…

    2. Agree with you on Easter, especially has Morgan has been sub par thus far and we will need some impact from the bench, not just cover.

      Today I’m feeling quite optimistic. We will get a huge reaction from the team (ideal selection or not). This isn’t the last chance saloon for Aus and I think we can do this on pure desperation and will. Then potentially, in effect, 2 weeks to prepare for a QF, when anything can happen!

      Fail and Lancaster will be asking for the bus to be moved a little closer for the pick up …

      1. Thinking about it last night, my biggest concern about Barritt is that he frees up both Pocock and Hooper in defence. They know he’s not an attacking concern when England have the ball and can therefore concentrate on those who are carrying threats – I think we’ll see Hooper using his speed to help shut down Joseph and the outside backs and allowing Pocock to arrive and attack the ball.

        Burgess may well be a novice, but Aus know that if he is playing they have to shut him down and stop him off-loading. The threat of Burgess would be enough to keep Hooper and Pocock closer in, giving the outside backs room to work in

        We need players like Wood and Launchbury to carry much more than they have been and Youngs to keep up his sniping around the edges. Otherwise the Aussies will find it far to easy to shut us down in attack

    3. Hope the telegraph is wrong they are not the ones I would choose to beat the aussies, skill required hence, Young’s, Ford, Slade and JJ for me. Burgess and Care on bench.
      Now watched the first half & yes Farrell kicked very well for goal but every restart lost possession and missed touch with a penalty at a crucial time = not a starter for me. Cannot quite bring myself to watch the second half yet, still suffering the blues !

      1. What!? You want to go with that midfield against Australia? We’ve just watched England fail in their attempts to out Wales Wales, and now you think the answer is to out Aussie the Aussies!?

        Ford has been poor, Farrell was very good in a losing side – any you want him dropped?

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