England’s Backline, despite being fed by a world class pack, is lacklustre at best, and with such a crucial tournament ahead, Mr Lancaster can’t afford to wait for the problems to be solved. Here are 5 key steps to win the Six Nations, with one eye on the world cup.
Although a small chap myself, I realise the need for big, physical players. The likes of Alex Goode and Kyle Eastmond both thrive in the premiership, but in the Test arena, against the likes of Jamie Roberts and Julian Savea, they probably can’t cope.
Winning the collisions is so important in rugby, this is much harder with smaller players. Hard fast running by big players creates go forward and quick ball. The likes of Luther Burrell, Manu Tuilagi and Courtney Lawes all give this required physicality.
2) Practise makes perfect
England lack a clinical edge to be seriously considered World class. To solve this, England’s training needs to involve high fatigue, high pressure situation, just likes the one’s they’ll experience in real games. England need to play with each other a lot, not just in games, but in training. England has to come first before anything else.
3) Squad consistency
After the Six Nations, Lancaster must decide a Squad and stick with it. The odd players will change, however the core of the team must be consistent. Players need to get used to playing with each other, combinations will click after a run of games. However squad competitiveness is key to maintain standards.
4) Test Match Animals
Ian McGeechan came up with the term ‘test match animal’, which is a player who rises to the big occasion. The Lions needed them, and so do England. England have one, maybe two, in Owen Farrell and Courtney Lawes, apart from that all the players shrunk at the Millennium Stadium, completely overawed by the atmosphere. All of England’s World Cup games kick off at 8 pm, under the lights this will be a big occasion, players have got to look forward to it, unlike shirking away from it like they did in Cardiff.
5) Friends will thrive
Anyone who plays for a grass roots sports team, not just rugby, will know that tight bonds developed off the field will improve the performance on the field. Players play so much better with their team mates as a motivation, rather than coaches. The disappointment of not performing in front of your teammates is second to none, hopefully this will drive the standards within the squad.
My England Starting 15 (when all fit)
- Alex Corbisero – Despite a niggling knee injury, ‘Corbs’ is a destructive scrumager with a high work rate around the park.
- Tom Youngs – In the loose he is rampant, the ‘cannonball’ has a ferocious chop tackle, however there is lot to improve come lineout time.
- Dan Cole – Manages in the scrum, but when on form, awesome at the breakdown. Consistently is key for Cole.
- Joe Launchbury – A High work rate, combined with a deadly tackle technique and lineout authority creates the perfect partner for Lawes.
- Courtney Lawes – The ‘enforcer’ is a ferocious tackler, able to create a violent spark in the pack.
- Tom Wood – An infinite work rate, and a never say die attitude drive the England team forward. A true grafter.
- Chris Robshaw – An Incredible work rate, combined with developing leadership qualities inspires the team to great things.
- Ben Morgan – A fast, powerful runner is what’s missing in this England team. The go forward created allows others to prevail.
- Ben Youngs – Youngs’ ball delivery, interlinked with his vision and speed creates a perfect platform his team.
- Owen Farrell – His kicking has won, and will win, many games. A real feisty competitor with a hardnosed defence.
- Christian Wade – A truly world-class finisher capable of creating something out of nothing that hasn’t been seen since Jason Robinson.
- Billy Twelvetrees – He can create holes in defences with clever running lines and his distribution skills make him into the perfect playmaker.
- Manu Tuilagi – A beast of a man capable of tearing defences to shreds. The perfect centre combination.
- Marland Yarde – A potent runner capable of running around as well as though opposition, Tuilagi is the perfect foil for him.
- Mike Brown – Brown is dependable in defence and solid under the high ball, his counter attacking has improved vastly over the autumn internationals.