In the fourth part of our series looking at England’s options after their 2015 World Cup debacle, we take a look at the position of fly half. Below we look at the options both in the short-term (2016 Six Nations) and longer term (2019 Rugby World Cup);
The general opinion seems to be that England should stick with Ford for the foreseeable future given his well versed attacking instincts. There are still some concerns over his defensive liabilities, especially given his size, but if he has the right players picked around him, there is no doubting he can thrive on the international scene, especially if his goal kicking remains consistent.
Farrell has come in for plenty of criticism during his time with England, but there is no doubting that he has the core skills to make him a quality international 10. He can kick, is solid in the tackle, and isn’t afraid to take the ball to the gain line. If he can now build on this, and become more of a passing threat, he could find himself propelled to the front of the pecking order.
A drink driving charge looms over him right now, but if he can put this latest misdemeanour behind him, he could well have another shot at international recognition. He has started the season really well for Sale, and is probably England’s most potent attacking threat at 10. He needs to find more consistency in his goal kicking, but if he can nail this, he could start really pushing for the shirt.
Slade has spent most of the last 18 months playing in the centres for club and country, however he does have plenty of experience in the 10 shirt. He can distribute, kick and poses a threat ball in hand, however given his ability to play outside of a fly half, the general preference is likely to be for him to remain in the centres whilst also providing cover for the 10 channel in a wider squad.
It’s hard to see Lozowski getting any international recognition in the next 18 months, however if he can break into the Wasps starting XV, or find a regular start elsewhere he could be a contender for 2019. Lozowski is already hotly tipped to wear the Red Rose one day despite a lack of senior action, and is clearly a highly regarded prospect by many coaches and fans in the know.
At this point, it’s hard to see Myler making a comeback for England, although should injuries strike, he could find himself becoming a part of the squad for the 2016 Six Nations. Given he is 31 already, it’s hard to see him still being around for the 2019 World Cup however, so it’s likely England will look towards their other options unless their hand is forced.
The fly half selection will depend in large part on who becomes the next England Head Coach, and what style of rugby they wish to play. If they want to compete with the Southern Hemisphere sides George Ford would have to be in pole position, with Danny Cipriani providing cover. If they want to adopt a more conservative approach then Farrell is the ideal man.