Positives and negatives from the Australia game

Kyle Sinckler

England capped off the Autumn Internationals with a resounding 37-18 victory over Australia. It took them to six straight wins over the Wallabies and meant they ended the series with three victories alongside a loss to the world champions New Zealand by a solitary point – certainly an outcome most England fans would have taken had you offered it at the start.

Of course, this is far from a vintage Australian team, but as the cliché goes, you can only play the side in front of you and there was much in England’s performance to be encouraged by.

The first positive was the set piece. Jones was keen to highlight this in the press conference after the match – applauding Sky for getting the man-of-the-match ‘right for a change’ in choosing Kyle Sinckler. Although in Jones eyes it was purely for his scrummaging, his bulldozing runs barely worthy of discussion. ‘Australia expect to get scrummed hard’, he said, ‘If they don’t they think they are in it’.

Right from the start of his tenure, Jones talked about building a team built on ‘English’ foundations of a strong set piece and the team finally seems to be getting there. Although sterner tests than this Australian front row await, and the number of scrums per game is much lower than in recent years, it certainly feels like a while since England have put in a dominant scrummaging display. In fact, it has been pretty good throughout the series – a couple against South Africa aside.

While teams are unlikely to milk penalty after penalty from a scrum anymore, with referees putting the onus on getting the ball out and restarting play, what is often forgotten is just what a fantastic attacking platform the scrum is. When you are on top, you tie in the opposition back row creating space around the fringes to attack – something England used to excellent effect on Saturday. Just look at their first score: England take advantage of the retreating Australian pack to attack the blind side, Mark Wilson feeding Ben Youngs who easily puts Jonny May into the corner.

Sinckler has spent much of Jones’ reign playing second fiddle to Dan Cole, often viewed as an impact substitute (and again for the Lions), but he is firmly in charge of the shirt now – and fast becoming a complete modern prop.

As well as Sinckler stepping up, what pleased me most in this game – and generally throughout the series – has been the performances of players who, had everyone been fit, might not have had any game time.

Wilson was superb again. Nominally a flanker for club, and a compete novice as an international number eight, he has now gone toe-to-toe with the three much feted Southern Hemisphere’s backrows. Against Australia he made a huge 17 carries, making 68 metres – as well as doing a lot of hard graft on the floor. As Jones said, ‘he’s not afraid to put his head in dark places’. Not a bad afternoon’s work at all.

Considering he was arguably fourth choice number eight going into the series, and maybe third choice six, he has now made himself pretty indispensable to the side.

A mention as well to Joe Cokanasiga. The 21-year-old is another who has come from outside the established squad and is demanding attention. He has the physicality Jones has been craving to introduce in his backline for a while – although, like buses, they all come at once, a 12,13,14 combo of Ben Te’o, Manu Tuilagi and Cokanasiga seen briefly together on the field.

How Michael Hooper managed to deny him a second try, I am still not quite sure, but my moment of the match is his complete ignorance of the fact Dane Haylett-Petty was apparently trying to tackle him.

Jones joked after the game that ‘he still has his training pants on. Wait until he gets his proper trousers’. But given England’s strength in depth in the back three, and a looming World Cup, it will be interesting to see if Jones thinks he can step Cokanasiga up to the required level, or whether he should invest the game time into already established players. With Chris Ashton back in favour, May scoring tries for fun and the indispensable Elliot Daly (wherever he plays), and not forgetting two Lions in Jack Nowell and a returning Anthony Watson, given a usual 31-man squad only has five back-three options, someone is going to miss out in Japan. What does Jones think is his best combination of options? I have a sneaking suspicion that Cokanasiga may make the cut.

Also a quick mention of some of England’s running lines. They were excellent on Saturday – considering some of the stodgy attack play we have seen from England in 2018, there was a real endeavour to cut the line and change the angle of attack. I think having some attention-grabbing size in the backline has really helped with this – Te’o drew Matt Toomua out of the line for Daly’s try, while Tuilagi held Samu Kerevi to allow Farrell to cruise through. In contrast, the midfield combo of Ford/Cipriani, Farrell and Slade from earlier in the year lacked that direct threat to fix the opposition defence and open space out wide.

However, alongside all these positives, again I have to raise the issue of England’s composure and, particularly, switching off at key moments – most of all when they had just scored. It is one of my biggest frustrations: when you have just scored and you immediately let the opposition back in with a simple error.

It happened twice in the first half, England conceding points straight after scoring themselves.

And thinking back to how England conceded 10 points to New Zealand in the final minute of the first half, there does seem to be a tendency for England to zone out when they are on top.

We also have to discuss Owen Farrell. Reinstated to his preferred position, I thought he has been fantastic this series – conducting the backline well, dead-eyed with his kicking, heroic in defence and sharp in attack. He has now scored more points against Australia than any other Englishman.

What does concern me, however, is just how reliant England are on him right now. He seems to bring an energy to the side which raises the game of everyone around him; case in point, when England were struggling against Japan, it was Farrell that Jones introduced at the start of the second half to give a shot in the arm to his fumbling team.

England have maybe five world class players in their squad, but Farrell is the only irreplaceable one in my view. We have seen how England can function this series without the Vunipolas, while there is a queue of quality locks behind Maro Itoje. But George Ford, or Danny Cipriani for that matter, for all their skills, do not bring that same commanding presence or vitality to the side. Farrell is the one player England have to hope is there come Japan 2019.

My other concern is around those tackles. For the second time this series, Farrell is a very, very lucky guy to escape without sanction. Numerous commentators and pundits have called his tackle on Izack Rodda as a card and penalty try – while Australia coach Michael Cheika called it ‘ludicrous’, saying ‘if [Farrell’s tackle at the end of the South Africa game] was worth a penalty, this one should have been three.’

Whatever your personal view on this, you have to admit Farrell is walking a very fine line – not least as he is beginning to earn himself a reputation. I wouldn’t want to bet on him escaping sanction for a third challenge of that ilk. He needs to sort out his technique and fast.

What were your thoughts on the game?

By Henry Ker

60 thoughts on “Positives and negatives from the Australia game

  1. Accepting that Farrell should have been pinged for his challenge on Rodda, it was quite an achievement to stop him irrespective of its legality. Rodda is a big bloke and was moving pretty quickly.

    I was surprised that Haylett-Petty didn’t go for an HIA after Cokanasiga’s try. He looked really groggy.

    1. I think I read somewhere that Rodda weighs 4 stone more than Farrell. He’s got to be at least somewhat embarrassed that he went over so easily!

      1. Pablito, so you condone illegal tackles then ?! For that’s what it was & which I note, that you avoid addressing. Impressive.

        1. Dear God Don. What are you wittering about now? Please point to anything in my statement that condones Farrell’s tackle.
          And I don’t avoid addressing anything, my post is clearly in response to Blub’s
          For what it’s worth and I don’t know why I am humouring you, in my opinion it was a clear penalty, and if it was a penalty then it was a penalty try and therefore a yellow card as well.
          Stick to the rugby Don rather than the attacks on people, it’s much more fun to talk about that

          1. Self explanatory really Pab. Rodda, Farrell = incident. You bang on about weight difference! What’s that got to do with the price of fish? OF’s prev ‘tackle’, replicated on Sat, you justified. This latter one, you belatedly admit was illegal. How’s this not about rugby? I ?ed yr ‘justification’ last time & corrected yr omission this time. How’s that attacking you? Paranoia? When you look in a mirror, do you see a police car?

          2. In retro Pablito, take yr point. Puts a different slant on yr post as it related to Blub’s comment. It may be useful to include the blogger’s moniker who you refer to in future though. @ face value, it wasn’t necessarily obvious that you were reffing to another. Regards.

        2. Toughen up Don! Pablito’s just highlighting, with relish I suspect, how a slightly built English back smashed an Aussie forward backwards! It was all ‘good’ rugby – surely! A bit illegal yes……twas a bit ‘naughty’!
          I am sure that EJ gave him a good spanking in the English changing room afterwards!
          Happy now Don?

          1. AD, are you Pablito’s mother? Happy as you when the ref disallowed England’s ‘try’ v NZ. Still decision made, move on, huh? Bet you were gutted fella. Cried into yr pint pot did you? ‘Talk’ about toughening up. Still, it’s good to condone illegality. Farrell to kees doing it? Train crash waiting to happen. Will he go for action replays in the 6N’s, WC? Will it be yellow, or red? Even someone as dumb as you must know that he’s made himself a ref’s marked man? Look fwd to the day, eh? Get that pint pot, or is it mug, ready again?

            1. Nope….I was just betting you cr*pped your pants and thought your world was over as it seems from your atavistic monopolisation of this site that the rugby blog is your whole life. Pint any time Don….the 12 month offer still stands and then you can talk rugby with me face to face for as long or as little as you want.

              1. AD, I just remember the scoreboard! This horse has bolted. Too late to shut the stable door. Better luck nxt time, in Dublin or Cardiff, maybe?

                1. Nope….just the next time England go up against NZ – not so interested in the rest!
                  Anyway why so coy about a pint of wallop?

                1. Nope……here as usual unfortunately for you. Bet you wished I had left the blog though.
                  No doubt you’re a lovely guy in the flesh and all this yaada/banter is your male way of making up for something thats absent!
                  A pint Don. Come on….don’t be scared.

                2. AD, not surprised I’d interested in Dublin or Cardiff either. Might lose as per NZ, although that was @ home wasn’t it?

              2. Dear AlexD, In response & to another of yr rants, TRB is not only my whole life, it’s my ONLY life & is also known as ‘The Good Life’! Surprised you haven’t heard of it.

                Besides, how else could I, er, ‘atavistically monopolise’ the top of the blogs list? You seem envious. But, seriously, I only do this to ensure that I don’t have to endure your drivel. There’s no room left for it! A kind of community service really. I’m also on commission.

                Mind you, as you’ve been absent for so long, fortunately it’s not been too difficult to out post you. Did you undergo an HIA, then were you detained @ HM’s pleasure, but accidentally released?

                As for drinking with you (you cannot be serious!? OTOH, I can see that a pint of Wallop around yr head has it’s attractions) to talk about as much, or as little, rugby as I like, um, is there an option for 100% less than ‘little’ please? I’d rather stay home & chew tin foil, if that’s alright with you.


                Merry Crimbo & Best wishes.

                A well wisher.

    2. Blub, spoke to a regional ref from Hampshire recently who opined that Farrell was off balance when he came into contact with Rodda & therefore it WAS only a pen. I said the the rule asked stated that the tackler had to attempt to grasp the opponent. He reckoned I was viewing this incident from a soectator’s stand point & that ref’s HAVE to interpret actions, otherwise we’d never get a game done due to continual interruptions. I insisted that refs should not fudge rules & simply do their job properly & apply them, otherwise, what was the point in having them. As a ref, what’s yr take?

      1. Well firstly, I should say that I am not a ref with considerable experience. I have considerable playing experience, and a lot of coaching experience. Refereeing is very much my third ‘skill’, and my reference to it was really in regards to try to portray how difficult it is to make every decision the absolutely correct one by the letter of the laws (as I always expected others to do when I played and coached!).

        I take his point on Farrell being off-balance, however if it was a penalty then surely it stopped the try scoring opportunity, so…

        In terms of interpreting actions, I absolutely agree with him. I was at a junior game this weekend where the ref generally ignored all offsides, apart from the VERY obvious, as none of the offsides were cynical (more clumsy) it did not spoil the game in any way. In fact it was a cracking game.

        I wouldn’t suggest this was the approach that International refs should take, but it was interpretive and it worked.

  2. I don’t think that Owen Farrell played that well if I am honest. Some of his kicking from hand was quite poor both in execution and in choice.

    Also, why doesn’t he let Slade or Daly kick penalties to touch on the right hand side as he plays it really safe when he takes them.

    1. Very interesting point on kicking to touch. I do agree with that – quite a few times in the aus game I was disappointed with how conservative the kicking was, easily another 10 metres available out there. Wouldn’t mind seeing Daly or Slade take over as you suggest.

  3. You touched on difficult decision in the back three, what about in the back row. assuming all are fit and locks are considered as locks. We probably have to choose 5 of:
    Simmonds (if fit)

          1. Ewers is immense… but I can only think he’s not getting a pick mainly cos of unproven fitness level over a longer spell. Even for Chiefs he seems to play in spurts of only a handful of games before picking up another knee injury.

  4. I can’t believe the passivity about Farrell and his “tackling”. Call me a po faced whinger if you want but we all know he’s going to come unstuck at some future point and that could cost us a game. Let’s hope it happens in the 6N and not in Japan.

    1. Was it the no arms tackle which Farrell got a yellow for against Australia in the world cup? I remember Lynagh after the match saying Burgess should have been shown yellow as well and that both tackles were dangerous.
      Farrell is going to get carded soon and there is a danger he will shoulder a smaller player and hit them higher thereby getting a red.

      1. Can you imagine how it could cost us if this happened early in a world cup march?! We could be out because of it.

        1. The reason he is so good is that he plays on the edge, plays with grit, and if he were to tone it down then he might lose his spark. A number of the game’s best are classed as such because they walk the fine line between legal and illegal – the ABs for instance.
          The last WC campaign was a mess for a number of reasons, England were being torn apart by Australia and this no doubt contributed to Farrell’s yellow.
          I agree there needs to be some tapering but there is also a huge amont of speculation going on with Farrell and his tackling. He MAY give away a penalty, he MAY get carded, he MAY save a try, he MAY turn the tide and lead England to a win.

          1. By trying to defend him, you’ve inadvertently highlighted exactly why we should be concerned.To whit; He’s got form, he’s prone to a rush of blood,and he’s also co captain. Seems bloody silly to me that fast Eddie and co are turning a blind eye to all these factors.
            Contrary to what this series of games suggests, refs are aware of the personalities of players. My big fear is that they may be saving the cards for when it really could damage us!Not that I’m suggesting the officials have bias. Don’t forget, there is huge pressure on them to be seen to be strong and decisive in the pre eminent tournament in world rugby.

          2. Oh dear Jake, you’re another condoning the illegal by excusing thuggery then? Playing on the edge etc. Like the AB’s? Baloney! What EVIDENCE do you produce for the latter? Zip! Perlease. You have as much cred as Jake Rees-Mogg with his lack of votes to oust May. Both somewhat pathetic.

  5. I totally agree with Acee with respect to Farrell. If a referee at the WC finds his whistle then Farrell may end up costing the Team dearly. I am of the view that performances have been inconsistent in the past including during the winning streak but with the depth being developed (finally) the squad is moving in the right direction.

  6. I agree with Blub on the kicking. But remember when Cips put May through for a try against SA in June? Faz turned away in disgust, he did not like it. Does he have a problem with others taking the limelight?

    1. Farrell didn’t like that kick because be thought initially it was a poor decision. Turned out not to be, but I don’t think he’s the sort of character to worry about limelight.

  7. An Encouraging set of AI”s.The main question is how we proceed into the 6N and onto the WC.As always injuries will be a major factor,but these matches have given EJ a better building base.
    As regards to the Front row Moon has proved to be a real find and should start as Mako is much more effective from the bench.Back up tight head is still open as is the choice of hooker to start-Much will depend on what game plan EJ wishes to choose.Second Row is fine as are the choices available in the back row,the question is how do you use Billy when he is fit.He is such a unique player and as such determines not only selection but game tactics as well-my preference would be start him on the bench where he could create mayhem with his brother.

    The problem areas remain with the backs.The situation at Scrum Half is not satisfactory-To have Wigglesworth as a replacement when you are looking to up the pace and tempo later in the match seems to be an oxymoron.The choice of 10 depends on what game you wish to use -the important thing is to be flexible and to adapt to changing circumstances during the match.
    As for the Centres Teo looks useful and it is good to have Manu back Though I would play Manu from the bench as Teo and Manu together lacks pace,not pace of foot but pace of hands and minds.To get the best out of Manu you need bring to bring Ford on and move Farrell to 12.Slade at 13 doesnt convince me -I would much prefer a fit JJ or Eliot but in the case of the latter a lot will depend on when Watson is back up to speed-these matches have shown up Eliots fallibility under the high ball ,but such is his ability room must be found for him.The rest of the back 3 is fine,Big Joe certainly has promise,a wild card wrecking ball!.

    Also sole captaincy should revert to Hartley and then to Launchbury.Farrell has shown he is incapable of mending his ways unlike Jonno and from now on will not only attract more attention from referees but will get much more provocation from the opposition.Once you get the reputation of a cheap shot head high merchant life becomes a lot more difficult for your team mates.

    1. Well JS10, Eddie is reported as being unwilling to change Farrell’s ‘style’. When refs start doing their jobs, due to media exposure pressure, Farrell may become England’s problem rather than their perceived solution!

    2. Can’t agree with your views on the Vunipolas JS. Both are too influential to be bench options and Genge will be a menacing finisher when he comes back and more than likely leapfrogs Moon.

      Regarding scrum halves, it’s a double edged sword. If you need to chase a lead, Care can pick up the pace. If you’re protecting a lead, Wiggo offers control. Ideally we’d have an alternative to Youngs that can do both well, but EJ’s been slack on this front.

  8. Nicely put JS. i admire your guts in having Billy as a finisher but I can see the logic. The big fear is that he gets injured again just before or during the tournament. The next cab on the rank would be Hughes, say no more!
    Do yu think, as I do ,that we need a third tight head? Williams hasn’t been the juggernaut we hoped he would be and although Sinckler has really come on, we can’t go to Japan with just two 3’s.

      1. He’s been looking better for the Tigers recently. Wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him back in the mix by the WC.

        Also think Marler may be convinced to come back, although Moon’s emergence makes that less of a need.

  9. Something entirely different and unrelated to the current conversation – does anyone know when the 2020 Six Nations Fixtures List will be released or available ?

  10. My thoughts on the game? Well the positives showed that England have a team whom can play when on the front foot. Negative; not so good on to the back foot though, but most teams aren’t. As mentioned elsewhere, they belatedly, thanks to injury, not Eddie, have positively found 1/2 a new pack, including a dark horse thruster @ prop in Sinckler. Also a new Jonah @ wing, a new fullback & apparently, a w class fly1/2 & maybe a 13. Enabled 3 out of 4 in the 6N, ensuring that England are ‘back on track’. Other negatives include England apparently switching off during games. Why? Maybe it’s something to do with the opposition? Also to talk up England, Farrell & their try scoring ability v Oz when the latter had a makeshift midfield is tenuous. Additionally, as Farrell apparently missed only 11 tackles in a prior match, this surely undermines the author’s claim about OF’s defensive prowess. Besides Farrell plays in a dominant club side & all look good when going forward. Didn’t look so good away in SA going the opposite way though. And as for Farrell’s changing the game v Japan in the 2nd 1/2. This is myth. England, changed their play to R1. Driving through the middle, grinding the smaller Japanese, sucking in defenders & thereby creating wide opportunities. This was due to a tactical change & not to do with Farrell. He benefitted from same & reaped much glory. Also, by denigrating Cipriani in comparison to Farrell & based on 1 game for England in 100 years is simply spurious. The author needs to watch a few Glous games methinks. DC’s the most skilled, naturally gifted player of a generation & so to omit him from the English set up is a dereliction of duty & negligent. Good for opponents though! The negative concerning all this is that people believe the misreading of events & individuals’ abilities. Even more so if Eddie himself does! Still, positively, England are in better shape than they were were a month ago. However, England will be tested AWAY in Dublin 1st up & also in Cardiff during the 6N. These games are pivotal in my view to gauge If England are really back on track & therefore potential contenders, or not, come WC time.

    1. I’d like to chime in on the Cipriani debate. I very much like the term that was coined by the Kiwis which is simply ‘no d!ck heads’ when it comes to squad selection. Simple but eloquent.

      Cipriani is clearly a talented player, perhaps the most naturally gifted ever produced by this country – in my lifetime I’d tip my hat at this point to Andrew Harriman, Guscott and Jason Robinson. However, throughout his career Cipriani (in much the same way as Harriman) has fallen foul of not one or two but several international coaches. With Johnson I thought that it may have something to do with the old school vs the new school but now I believe that they aren’t ALL wrong and he clearly doesn’t fit into the squad environment. He has had high profile spats with team mates (Lewsey and Catt) as well as his off field issues – admittedly the spotlight is certainly on him more than most but his profile is nothing like Jonny Wilkinson’s and the ‘why always me thing’ wears a bit thin after a while.

      At this stage I’d mention that his commitment to defence has always been unreliable at best.

      Eddie Jones made a interesting observation that you have him in a squad as a number 1 choice but he can’t function as a number 2. This says as much about his character as it does his playing ability. I also have taken a particular disliking to how any interview he has done where he talks about his burning desire to play for England – it may not be his intention but it comes across as though no one else has the same desire. I think certain things should simply go unsaid…

      Justin Harrison was an eloquent (quite sweary at times) guest on ‘Flats and Shanks’ this week. His observations on Cipriani and Beale as doing things for themselves and not the team are very interesting.

      I say all the above as someone who hoped that Cipriani would fulfill his potential, he is a wonderful talent but I think it would be in everyone’s best interest to place trust in those who have to interact with these individuals on a daily basis.

    2. Don, would you accept that Farrell’s presence in the second half against Japan contributed to a collective pulling up of the socks? A galvanising (some might say b*ll*cking) effect that Ford and others couldn’t muster?

      To my mind he absolutely should be England’s starting 10 but not having Cipriani as a game changing bench option is a massive miss.

      1. JK. I’ve already stated my views on Farrell v Japan. The collective sock pulling was done by the fwds driving it up the guts in the 2nd 1/2 change of tactics (from going wide in the 1st). Farrell benefited from this. IMO he is over rated above his station of being a stolid fly1/2, who receives praise merely for doing his job of running, passing or kicking & er, ‘tackling’. He has no natural ability such as side stepping as per Barry John, Phil Bennett, or holding & or straightening a running line & timing, delaying of his pass like Cip. However, he fits the ‘English’ mold (apart from changing the line out calls as co-captain i.e). DC doesn’t. I’ve heard this thing about his record time & again. It’s off field stuff. OTOH, Hartley’s was on field, but he’s been forgiven.. & ‘clean’ for England. DC’s not been afforded the same chance. Wasps had little issue with him, the Abbott incident you highlight apart. But then OTOH again, Danny Care’s been done for being pissed twice, but he’s back (or he was ’til, funnily enough, the Japan game). It’s a case of what’s called man management. You mention Martin Johnson in this regard & although I respected him as a person, player, he was unsuccessful as a manager (having never done the job before & being out of rugger for 5 before hand). Therefore he, e.g., is not a valid reference point in respect of Cip. Jones is similar in this regard. Irrational in picking Cip for only ONE game?! In any event this topic is all academic isn’t it? I think that you can pretty much rest assured that DC will never play for England again. Job done.

        1. Don, it was widely regarded that Jonny had no ‘natural’ ability and he was merely the product of hard work and dedication – I personally always found this a little disingenuous and rather sour. However, his career worked out pretty well, not only for him but England too. I appreciate that at times this had a lot to do with the eyes and ears around him but on that note I’d say that any player (even of more natural ability) also needs this. Even the great DC and currently BB have required steady, experienced heads and quality players around them to succeed. I think the point that EJ is currently making is that DC cannot sit in the squad as 2nd choice because it isn’t in his character to help bring out the best in others. Only when he is master conductor does he actually engage. While this may bring about a few good performances and results, I imagine that in the long run it produces tensions within the squad.

          The examples of Barry John and Phil Bennett are also a little extreme, you are talking about two true giants of the game. Perhaps a more relevant comparison would be to compare him to current players. I’d say that BB and Finn Russell aside OF plays very like most other tier 1 fly halves – think Sexton, Bigger, Pollard etc…

          As a final note, I will certainly agree that he is not worthy of the exulted status he enjoys. He is a good but fundamentally limited player. I worry that his personality is too over bearing for the team (I wrote about his reaction to Cipriani’s kick back in the summer), but players currently seem to be responding.

          I always thought England missed a trick by not trying Alex Goode at fly half.

          1. JK, you seem to prove my point about Cipriani’s not ‘fitting’ when you state that you ‘imagine’ Eddie basically doesn’t trust him. I take it you don’t either by making EJ’s case for him. As we’re not going to change our or each other’s minds, little point in rehashing old ground. Nevertheless, it would be telling as to what Jones would do, or you would suggest, if Farrell got crocked; possibly with a shoulder led ‘tackle’? Interesting quandary?

            1. Don, if Farrell gets crocked my personal suggestion would be Ford as first choice and EJ would just have to manage Cipriani within the squad as 2nd choice. Whether he would do that or not though and obviously it would beg the question as to why DC hadn’t been exposed to training at least… So in that vain I wouldn’t be surprised if EJ saw Slade or Lozowski as his current 3rd choice fly half.

              1. SJ, I doubt Cipriani will feature @ all. He’s been excluded since his 1 shot in SA. Good luck if makeshifts Slade & Lozowski have to play @ fly1/2. Although Loz already seems out of favour. Injury may well not occur to Farrell, but then again, that’s similar thinking to NZ’s during the ‘Donald’ WC. Foresight recommended.

                1. Sorry one person I forgot is Peirs Francis – I think EJ is the only man in England who sees something in him!!! Maybe if we get to our ‘Donald’ moment it will have to be him or Marcus Smith… Cipriani will then be left to rue not taking the French pay cheque

        2. I think you’ve conflated some others’ comments with mine there Don.

          I disagree that Farrell has no natural ability, although certainly he has less than some, and I don’t think it was purely the tactical switch that got England going against Japan. They needed a kick up the backside and I’m sure he had as much to do with delivering it as anyone.

          His goal kicking is also second to none.

          There’s something in your comparison of Cipriani and Hartley – one’s ok to be captain, the other is shunned. The difference there is that I’ve only ever heard team mates and coaches heap praise on Hartley (other than Gatland maybe).

          1. JK, each to his own. I’ve already communicated my views on Farrell & ok, he has ‘less natural ability than some’.. like Cipriani for instance? Agree about his goal kicking, as acknowledged elsewhere. However, he must have benefitted from the tactical change @ 1/2 time v Oz. And he, like some/many (?) in SA, did lose composure, certainly when yelling @ the ref! Regards praise being heaped on Hartley, a few hear have opined to the contrary.. & EJ has seemingly just dropped him!? Hope these comments of mine aren’t too conflated this time as I’ve an aversion to heights! I therefore sincerely hope t hat I don’t go up like a hot air balloon!

  11. It seems to me that Ford is overshadowed by Farrell when the latter is at 12. Ford shines brightly when Farrell is missing – see 2017 matches in Argentina. Just as well as if OF gets a red card and a suspension in the WC we will not necessarily be stuffed.


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