So, looking back over the tournament as a whole. No discernible attacking shape and erratic defence. New coaching team hasn’t yet covered themselves in glory - they’ve haven’t got the strongest group of players but they’re not close to getting the best out of them either.
LH: Genge had some moments but not consistently influential enough. Fra was a black mark against his leadership credentials. Marler, VRR and Rodd would all have been better options than Mako.
Hooker: George looks like yesterday’s man compared to Marchand, Sheehan and Turner. With LCD out no real alternatives. Shame McGuigan wasn’t around. Borthwick’s treatment of Walker was fairly contemptuous. Blamire possibly?
TH: Some moments from Sinckler but generally too passive and a bit of a pen machine. Cole’s been a great servant but is of his time - little ball playing or dynamism and no Antonio in the scrum. Stuart has a chance to claim shirt when fit, but a position of weakness.
Lock: Shame Chessum got hurt as it’s now him plus AN Other. Few options available that are either outright huge and powerful or a ball player. Itoje needs to reset and made to fight for his place.
Flankers: Missing Lawes and T Curry who have been our first choices and a top form Underhill would be there too. Willis went missing v Fra but otherwise came out in credit although may need to be a bit quicker over the ground. Ludlam works hard but doesn’t really influence matches - if everyone’s fit he doesn’t make a 23. Likes of Hill and Pearson may come into the mix to increase physicality.
8: Dombrandt hasn’t taken his chance. Mercer and T Willis will offer more skill, pace and aggression.
9: Good to see a player given a run of games but JVP failed his audition. Not really surprising as he’s still wet behind the ears at club level. Some other options but much of a muchness. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Youngs back for RWC.
10. A mess. Suspect Borthwick favours Ford but if Farrell has to play this is the only shirt I want to see him in. Borthwick has a big call to make. Marcus who?
Centres: Something to work with in Lawrence. Shame Daly wasn’t available. Just for the RWC maybe a Manu / Lawrence combo - both can play in either position. Slade looks great in a good team, but he’s not a horse for the course at the moment. I don’t want to see Farrell at 12 again, but suspect we will. Midfield picture as unclear as ever.
Wings: Watson fine. Malins falls short. Arundell will come good but he’s not even got to wet behind the ears level with his club yet and all his club rugby has been at FB. Freeman evidently not rated. Looking forward, Radwan has gas, Thorley looks like he’s getting back to his best - quick and comes infield looking for work. Maybe back to the future with May. Who knows?
15: Steward did some good stuff but also exposed on occasions. Still young, still learning. Shirt is his for now.