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[2019 Six Nations] England Squad

ratsapprentice

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On the less-good side of the coin is Eddie's tactical intransigence, and his selection based on that.
For example, Farrell (sorry) was great against Ireland, and good against France; but he's still too rugby-by-numbers for me (and those 2 teams played straight into our hands from the off). He's great at following the play book, but as Wales, Italy and Scotland showed - he's still poor at adapting to what's going on around him. He's very good at "follow me into the breach" leadership, but equally poor at tactical leadership. He's also improved out of sight in talking to the ref - mostly by avoiding doing so.

Agree with all of that - but a solution to that would seem to be, hoik Farrell the minute that our set-play blitz has lost momentum (even if it's the 20th).

We really need a scrum half. Barring the odd 1-2 matches a year, Youngs is not up to being a first choice starter. Like Faz though, he's untouchable, and no-one else is allowed a chance to show what they could do. Equally, we've got Te'o Hughes and Shields as Eddie's favourites, though thankfully he seems to have given up on starting them, they're just further examples that Eddie has decided England can't play heads up rugby, and therefore aren't allowed to try.

Although I wouldn't exactly pick Te'o and Hughes, I'm not entirely sure what you mean by this?

I think when Underhill comes back in, he would have to be mental not to have Wilson, Curry and Sam in the first choice 23.
What I'm excited about is bringing in Ben Curry.

I think Sinckler's importance cannot be overstated - his skill level and workrate are obscene for a TH. And despite the media hackjob after the Wales game, he's fairly well in control of his temper now.
Genge will come good - I think he just needs to tighten his carrying up a little bit, there's always going to be a learning curve. He won't get away with his tendency to step/run backwards away from and around the defensive line when carrying so much at international level, and he'll need to secure the ball better in contact. But he'll come good.
Oh how I wish Paul Hill had developed into the player he should have by now. Sinckler, Hill, Genge and Vunipola all playing to their potential as a set of 4 props would be genuinely incredible.
 

Every Time Ref

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Biggest positives for me is the arrival of Slade as an international player - we already knew that Curry and Wilson could do it at this level, but their partnership with Billy has also been a joy to watch.
Genge and Sinkler showing that they're up to starting internationals is also a very good thing.


On the less-good side of the coin is Eddie's tactical intransigence, and his selection based on that.
For example, Farrell (sorry) was great against Ireland, and good against France; but he's still too rugby-by-numbers for me (and those 2 teams played straight into our hands from the off). He's great at following the play book, but as Wales, Italy and Scotland showed - he's still poor at adapting to what's going on around him. He's very good at "follow me into the breach" leadership, but equally poor at tactical leadership. He's also improved out of sight in talking to the ref - mostly by avoiding doing so.

We really need a scrum half. Barring the odd 1-2 matches a year, Youngs is not up to being a first choice starter. Like Faz though, he's untouchable, and no-one else is allowed a chance to show what they could do. Equally, we've got Te'o Hughes and Shields as Eddie's favourites, though thankfully he seems to have given up on starting them, they're just further examples that Eddie has decided England can't play heads up rugby, and therefore aren't allowed to try.

In summary
Front row: Largely positive, but boy do we miss Hartley's leadership (now there's a sentence I never thought I'd type 4 years ago)
Second row: 4 brilliant options, some promise behind them, but as yet unfulfilled.
Back row: Has become a real strength this year (including bench when all fit), but the depth just hasn't shown anything at international level, whilst those better club form don't get a chance.

Halfbacks: Our decision makers, tempo-setters, tactical generals and skipper - comfortably the weakest aspect of our team, but completely untouchable. Are they tactically inept? Or are those the orders from on high?
Centres: You can't pick a bad pairing from Manu, JJ and Slade unfortunately all are better at OC than IC, and unfortunately, Eddie will always find a way to fit Te'o in.
Back 3: Several brilliant options on the wing, but Daly still not a FB. If Brown is never coming back in then we need to pray that Watson comes back confident and firing. Surprised Woodward hasn't been given a shot, good form, and a SH accent!

Coaching: As ever, there are some good signs; but real problems with selection, favouritism and stubbornness.
WT my grammatical revolutionary friend, this is insightful and intelligent enough that I’m going to do you the great honour of reciting it verbatim to my IRL friends and passing it off as my own opinions.
Ford / Faz is always an option.
Join us.
Join us.
Join us.
 

Reiser99

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I'll add my two cents.

1: Mako, Genge and Moon are all very consistent and if Mako gets some decent game time for Sarries and stays in form then I'd consider Moon and Genge for the warm ups to get a bit more experience.
2: George is playing better though not always reliable. Issue is who after with Hartley out? Jones clearly doesn't trust LCD to put him on for long. A real worry if George and Hartley both get injured.
3: Sinckler has cemented his place as first choice and deservedly so. However even as a Leicester supporter I still worry about Cole and I'd like to see Williams given more opportunities to get some experience. I can see Cole costing England a game at the WC with some of his ridiculous decisions, even if he also does some good stuff.
4&5: England's main area of depth, but I think England definitely need Itoje or Lawes who put in those massive hits. Launchbury and Kruis would probably be my least favourite combination out of the 4.
6: Wilson has shown he deserves his place, however it's another area where depth is a worry. Shields is Jones' go to man, but hasn't shown the promise we were told he would.
7: Everyone likes a Curry, so why not get two? If Underhill is fit great, but if not then England don't have another real 7 outside of the Curry twins. Tom Curry has shown though what England have been missing for years.
8: Vunipola didn't have the greatest 6N's, but he's back playing and not injured so that's a bonus. The issue is that Jones still sees Hughes as his back up...
9: Youngs had some great moments, but then also some very average as well as absolute dire moments too. He is too inconsistent especially under pressure. Another position where Jones clearly doesn't trust the back up. Both Robson and Spencer added to the tempo when they came on, but were brought on too late to really have an impact. Probably the biggest worry heading into the WC.
10: Farrell is similar to Youngs, though he made more mistakes than Youngs over the tournament. He definitely seems to revert to type and playing his safe game when under pressure which is to kick. Definitely a big concern that if you get to him, he will make mistakes and in the Scotland one, two costly ones that led to tries.
11&14: Another of England's stronger areas, though some concerns with tackling. May has become one of the best wingers in the world and Nowell and Big Joe have shown that they can step up.
12: Manu had a fantastic 6N's and shows what a powerful dangerous runner can do, even without the ball. Need to keep him fit though as there is no one else with the ability or experience to replace him...unfortunately Te'o will go to the WC by process of elimination. Te'o has shown his form is not even good enough for Worcester to why Jones persists with him I don't know.
13: Slade has finally started to show the ability he has for Exeter and just in time. Joseph is in the wings and is always reliable, but Slade for me is a better attacking threat with his kicks and passes. His pass to May against Scotland was beautiful.
15: Daly has improved, but is still a concern against the best sides. Attacking he is great, defensively he is a real worry, especially making last ditch tackles. His bump into Price that led to Bradbury's try was just appalling.

Tactics: I think England got their tactics right against Ireland and in most of the first halves. However it was when they were put under pressure that mistakes happened and I think more down to Farrell than Youngs, though Youngs wasn't great under pressure. Farrell became far to quick to kick from hand if the running game wasn't working and it became far too predictable. For all of Jones' talk about heads up rugby, I don't think Farrell can do it unless things are going well. As soon as he has less time to think he falls into predictable patterns. Ford has some issues as well, but he does play what's in front of him.

Coaching: I don't get why EJ is so afraid to bring his subs on. During the 18 match run England won games at the end with powerful finishers who could turn a game with fresh legs. Against Wales he just refused even though England were rattled and Wales were dominating. Farrell's face said it all against Scotland when he was subbed, he couldn't believe it, but he had been so poor in the second half that he should have gone earlier. Jones seems to have players he thinks are essential and even though he knows they make mistakes, for some reason thinks they are so integral that a sub would disrupt the team more than their bad performance. It's utterly bewildering. So too is his persistence with players who are clearly out of form. I honestly think Te'o would struggle to get into the Worcester 23 at the moment, let alone England.

Summary:
Lack of depth in some areas with only 1 or 2 players with enough game time.
England and especially Farrell panic under pressure and stop playing the way that has won them games.
Jones has gone from relying on finishers to not trusting them at all, even when the starters are costing England games.
Jones needs to pick players he is willing to play.
 

Which Tyler

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Agree with all of that - but a solution to that would seem to be, hoik Farrell the minute that our set-play blitz has lost momentum (even if it's the 20th).


Although I wouldn't exactly pick Te'o and Hughes, I'm not entirely sure what you mean by this?
That, or start a more flexible FH to start with. Perfectly happy with Faz at 12 (on condition that he hands the reins to the actual FH), or benching, or starting some matches (trouble is, you don't know which ones beforehand. It's not that he's a flat-track bully, it's that sometimes the tactics work, and sometimes they're a busted flush).
I'd rather Cips or Ford though. Neither are as good at geeing up their own team, but both are more likely to win a match, and I'm not sure either are more likely to lose one.
On Te'o, Hughes & Shields... Of the 3, o my Te'o has ever shown anything much at international level, all offer limited, play-by-numbers rugby, and all 3 are selected ahead of more rounded options.
Te'o benches whilst we have 4 competent centres on the pitch, and no back3 backup, selected ahead of Coka, Ashton, Brown etc.
Shields hasn't shown anything worthy of selection being eligible for England, is chosen ahead of Ewels, Isiekwe, Stools etc (none of whom are quite ready yet, but all of whom are actual locks) or even Attwood / Slater who would offer real impact off the bench. As a backrow, Shields is selected ahead of the same names Hughes is.
Hughes hasn't shown international class in 3 years, and is selected ahead of Morgan, Clifford, Mercer, BCurry, Willis etc.

All 3 will put their heads down, and do what Eddie wants them to do (head down, follow the script, whether it's working or not). Shields may offer more, and based on reports from NZ he does. Its just that the only thing he's shown beyond that is a suicidal offload - which matches nicely with suicidal passes and suicidal kicks I suppose.

For me, all 3 of them are indicative of Eddie's favouritism, and decision that England players can't play heads up rugby - as opposed to the names they're selected ahead of.




WT my grammatical revolutionary friend, this is insightful and intelligent enough that I’m going to do you the great honour of reciting it verbatim to my IRL friends and passing it off as my own opinions.
I prefer the term "linguistically unique,"
 

ragerancher

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My main concern through this tournament is how Jones' pig-headedness has got so great he will actually handicap the team to prevent playing players. Against Wales he didn't empty the bench, against Scotland he made all his subs well after the game had slipped away. There is talk about the half backs not adapting (rightly so) but Jones seems determined to ignore what is happening on the field and doesn't make substitutions when the team are clearly tiring and being torn apart by fresh players. 5 minute subs are usually pointless and were all that saved us from a loss against Scotland.

It's so weird as when he started the subs were an integral part of the team and we played as a 23 player unit, now Jones doesn't seem to care about anyone outside the starting 15 and is trying to flog them like crazy through training and then keeping them on as long as possible. It's idiotic.

For the players, I've argued over and over that Farrell is not Mr Iceman and the claims they he could handle a game on the back foot better than Ford were nonsense, I think this has shown it again. Every embarrassment England have faced has been with Farrell at 10. How many more embarrassments do we need before people will accept that he cannot handle pressure? If the pack is on top then he is fine, same as most 10's. If the pack is struggling, he does aimless kicking, throws intercepts, gets charged down, does no arms tackles, flies out the line, throws hospital passes and actively makes things even worse. Not to worry though, Ford will concede maybe 8m in the entire game in tackles he still completes so Farrell it is.

Youngs is too slow, lacks game management and blows way too hot and cold. Like Farrell he relies almost entirely on the pack dominating and doesn't function well at all when they aren't. Both of them don't adapt under pressure and just do exactly the same things but worse. Once momentum is gone, neither of them are able to steady the game and get it back under control and more often than not, will cause more of a momentum shift with idiotic mistakes and aimlessly giving the ball away. Jones really has hampered England by not developing any alternatives in 4 years.

Our defence against Scotland was laughable... It's not even like we were being beaten by some well worked moves, it's people just falling off front on tackles. Where was the effective blitz against Ireland? We reverted to the passive defence that cost us in 2018 yet retained the falling off tackles aspect, the worst of both worlds. It is absolutely unacceptable for a side to be that **** poor at basic tackling technique. The Welsh very rarely fall off tackles or leave gaping holes right in the middle of the defence.

Mentally we need to get a proper sports psychologist in. It's been shown over and over in all sports that mentality is just as important as physicality. We had the right attitude against Ireland but in all the rest it looks like everyone just switches off and ignores whatever they have been coached. Unless this mental frailty and tendency to go absolutely to pieces is addressed, we could be looking at crashing out in the group stages again.

Positives: Mako was phenomenal and our back row is the best it's been in years. May looking like the real deal, Big Joe a good prospect for the future and it looks like we have a working centre partnership with Slade and Manu. Also staggering to think that we just set the 2nd highest number of tries score in 6 nations history...
 

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Wisemantel has done an excellent job as attack coach since he has come in.
 

Reiser99

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Shields hasn't shown anything worthy of selection being eligible for England, is chosen ahead of Ewels, Isiekwe, Stools etc (none of whom are quite ready yet, but all of whom are actual locks) or even Attwood / Slater who would offer real impact off the bench. As a backrow, Shields is selected ahead of the same names Hughes is.
Hughes hasn't shown international class in 3 years, and is selected ahead of Morgan, Clifford, Mercer, BCurry, Willis etc.

I slightly disagree about Shields, I think he is there as a 6 who has the bonus of covering lock. Doesn't mean I want him at lock, but I don't think you can say he's being picked over second row players. My issue is that like with most players who perform better in the Premiership, they haven't been given any international game time and so it's a choice between someone who has played or risk someone who hasn't even if they may be better. Underhill potentially could be a 6, but I don't think Jones sees that. Simply in terms of 6 there only options are Wilson and Shields. 8 on the other hand there are clearly other players with experience, hell, Wilson has played 8 for England, Morgan too and Mercer coming through. Hughes is the biggest waste of space at the moment. Te'o is too, but like 6, there isn't anyone else really unless you move Faz back and it seems like Jones has moved away from that, so you're left with Tuilagi and Te'o.
 

Which Tyler

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I slightly disagree about Shields, I think he is there as a 6 who has the bonus of covering lock. Doesn't mean I want him at lock, but I don't think you can say he's being picked over second row players. My issue is that like with most players who perform better in the Premiership, they haven't been given any international game time and so it's a choice between someone who has played or risk someone who hasn't even if they may be better. Underhill potentially could be a 6, but I don't think Jones sees that. Simply in terms of 6 there only options are Wilson and Shields. 8 on the other hand there are clearly other players with experience, hell, Wilson has played 8 for England, Morgan too and Mercer coming through. Hughes is the biggest waste of space at the moment. Te'o is too, but like 6, there isn't anyone else really unless you move Faz back and it seems like Jones has moved away from that, so you're left with Tuilagi and Te'o.
When he's being picked on the bench alongside Hughes, ahead of any locks, I can say he's being picked ahead of he locks. Besides, I do mention that he's also a backrower, and is being picked ahead of better options.

Oh and at 6, the options aren't just Wilson or Shields IMO, there's also Mercer, Hill, Curry and Willis (Robshaw and Haskell).

I'd rather Faz at 12 than Te'o. I really don't see the point of starting Farrell, Manu, Slade and Daly, and saying "you know what? We need a centre on the bench" I can see even less point t in doing that, and picking Te'o rather than JJ (who could at least cover wing in event of an injury)
 

TW27BA

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^ Best defensive coach in the NH (Including Farrell Snr) and he's available. Be silly not to try and get him.
 

TRF_Olyy

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I'd take him as defence coach as long as we have a good attack coach.

Seen people saying England should chase him as head coach but I wouldn't
 

ragerancher

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As Olly said, I'd take Edwards. Wales have built their success on solid defence for years and our defence has looked leaky as hell at times. Only condition to having him is that we have an equally strong willed attack coach and a good head coach. The last world cup shows what happens when the defence coach has too much say, we put out a team based entirely around trying to keep the opposition out to the extent it blunted our attack.

I suspect though the problem in the England squad is still largely a psychological one and I'd put a top name sports psychologist at the top of the shopping list above any other coaching staff right now. One can dream but any of the people involved in British cycling would be interesting.

Seems Jones agrees: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/47603228
 
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Old Hooker

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I suspect though the problem in the England squad is still largely a psychological one and I'd put a top name sports psychologist at the top of the shopping list above any other coaching staff right now. One can dream but any of the people involved in British cycling would be interesting.

Seems Jones agrees: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/47603228
Jones saying it’s a 2015 hangover. Don’t recall him mentioning it toooo much during the winning run.

Don’t know about psychologists, but Jones may need to re-evaluate the skill / attitude / leadership balance in the team.

+1 for Edwards.
 

living sacrifice

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I blame Jones completely for our failings. You can argue about Ford vs Farrell all day long, neither are a complete 10 but neither are so limited that you couldn’t win a World Cup with either at 10.

The problem for me has been game plans and selections. Jones seems to coach one game plan and that’s it. No plan B and no ‘get out of jail’ plan when things arnt going well.
You see clubs have those plans, saracens definitely do. No idea why we don’t, we should have started kicking for touch, slowing the game down for a bit and build some phases for a bit.

Selection has always been an issue for me since Jones has been in charge. He’s not blooded suitable players in multiple positions and his constant idea of playing players out of position has never worked. I’ve no idea what overall affect it has had but Daly’s defensive issues at FB could have been negated by playing a proper FB there.

Change is needed in some way though or we will crash out in the quarter finals.
 

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There is part of me sitting here thinking did we spend too long debating Ford/Farrell and other positions that we kind of neglected scrum-half. Youngs became our most capped scrum half ever at the weekend and whilst he has flashes of brilliance he's had way too many games where he's done just okay. I dunno feels like he's been here a lifetime and never really had to earn the shirt except against and equally misfiring Care and we never looked outside that.
 

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Im happy with our pack, mako/genge, sinks/cole(cole is the weakest link at prop for me but isnt solved by williams) strong powerful players with good hands.

Lock 4 great options, in order itoje lawes kruise/launch(equal). Then ewels and shield as emergancy holy **** cover.

Back row. Balanced physical and all round very good with underhill to slot in somewhere.

This pack going into the WC can challenge any other nation IMO.

Now the backs

Halfbacks...ill come back to that. PSB :)

Center. Didnt use JJ this tournement and still looked very strong with manu slade. JJs defence, pace and running game will really push slade for the 13 spot. If we had a decent 12 manu would be in the 13 spot fight too. Teo....no. happy though with our centres

Wing. May nowell. Strong. Watson. Was strong needs game time on return. Big joe could be epic but needs to sort defence.

Fb daly vs brown. Winning vs not losing. Daly great attacking runner, great step and passing game going forward but lacks some of the basics, isnt bad just not at the defencive level. He can win you a game.

Brown polar opposite to daly, he wont win you the game but he can stop you from losing it. Good hard running but lacks the step or passing game to be a great attacking FB. But great in defence at them last ditch tackles and solid under the high balls.

Now this isnt me saying i want this but could brown be a good 23 player? Yes lacks impact but can close out a game. We generally have a fast start, hit hard and hit early. Having some control come on in the second half. Although thats just masking an issue and taking a place from a real attacking option.

Now half backs. Scrum half has been bsdly managed, youngs care for so long. No third. Robson gets a chance barley gets used and gets injured, spencer bearly any gametime.

Unexperience isnt trusted and experience is past it.

Faz v ford. Ones attacks better one defends better both have pros and cons but theres no real alternatives. Cips prob best attack by far but the worst defence as he does outright miss quite a few tackles.


Id rather a fordward be the captain. Bring back hartly with George to the bench even though i rate george as a player over hartly.

We have the players in every position, some stronger than others yes but still we just need to learn how to calm down and regroup when things dont go our way. Scotland could have been a cricket score and a real statement of intent for the WC. We failed in defence in the second half. Its not the first 2 of the second half in quick succession that bothers me, caught out caught napping by good play. Its the fact we got scared and took a step back allowing them to find wholes. Just a disapointing, game is not won until the final whistle and regardless of first half score your aim should be to start from 0 - 0 and win the second.

If we can learn from this i think we can compete for the wc deffinatly just needs work.
 

ragerancher

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I don't think Farrell defends better than Ford. He will occasionally put in a decent hit but is far more likely to give away a penalty, is on the verge of being carded for his repeated no arms and frequently falls of a tackle completely. What you gain with the odd highlight reel hit you easily lose with the other issues. Ford may concede ground but he doesn't completely **** up in the way Farrell does. I'd argue Farrells defensive lapses have cost us far more territory than Ford being driven backwards. People seem to forget just how much ground a penalty or missed tackle cost the team.
 
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