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Thursday, November 6, 2014

England's starting XV for All Blacks still has air of edge and excitement about it, but bench lacks fear factor

England's starting XV for All Blacks still has air of edge and excitement about it, but bench lacks fear factor


Just maybe Stuart Lancaster has got it right through circumstance rather than out and out choice. England may have been stripped of around 10 front line players, most of them from the forward pack, but there is still an air of edge and excitement about the match day squad. Dave Attwood has been breaking down walls at Bath to get a chance. Let us see what the lock can do from first whistle rather than coming on around the hour mark. Big, sturdy, more dynamic and more mobile than he was after deciding to shed a few pounds.

His Bath team mate, Semesa Rokoduguni might well have got his chance come what may because his form has been so eye-catching. Mind you, if Exeter’s Jack Nowell had had an injury-free run this past few months, rather than working his way back to full fitness, might not Lancaster have been tempted to go with last season’s wing pairing of Nowell and Jonny May? Marland Yarde, too, has long been on Lancaster’s radar but he too has been handicapped by a minor ankle niggle, albeit his form against Wasps 10 days ago was so shaky that a re think of plans might have been in order in any case.

And what a tantalising prospect that is.Can he bring that trickery to the International stage will his nerve hold up as the ball is pumped high or wide or behind Not surprisingly given his Fijian roots, the Bath player bears resemblance to many an All Black wing that has passed this way. He is powerful, skilful and has pace.New Zealand imbue their players with the belief to use their assets.Roko has to do the same. 
May has a lot to prove, too, on the other wing. He has yet to dazzle for England, yet to be consistently impressive. He has his moments, but he has those other side of moments too.

Of course there are potential deficiencies in the England line-up. Brad Barritt is a sterling figure but he is not a world class outside centre in the way that Conrad Smith is, or the missing Manu Tuilagi is.Yet the Saracens pairing with Kyle Eastmond makes sense. Eastmond is a handful and will cause trouble to an opposition defence. Barritt is there in the outside channel as the rock, the rallying point, the defensive bulwark. He will help Eastmond inside him and Rokoduguni outside. In extremis, it might just work.




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