England’s performances are growing. You can sense it, there’s a crisp breath of anticipation in the air of the England camp, the future is so bright for this special group of players. For the past two years I have thought, wrongly, that Lancaster’s four year world cup plan was foolish; yet one and a half years out, everything is starting to fall, so perfectly, together. The Scotland game, coupled with the still fresh memories of the Stade de France heroics, shows the true potential of this team.
For too long have I, along with many others, thought that Lancaster’s ambling about culture, national pride and the 2003 world cup was worthless, and a distraction from the truth. But that coach Stuart is a very, very clever man. He has formulated a four year plan – accurate to every single day – for England Rugby, not the team, but the unified Rugby nation. Because of his meticulous – every inch included – pathway to victory, England have every reason to be a glorified success in the near, and far future.
For the past two years I have lined the Northern Hemisphere giants of Wales, player by player, against the inexperience of England. So often you pick 2 or 3 brave Englishman who are better than their opposite number. And that’s it. But this time next year you could probably pick 7.
I’m not going to talk about the team of now, but the team of 2015. This current fine selection of gentlemen could be world beaters, not world survivors like the recent boys we have seen. World class players of 2015? Alex Corbisiero, Billy Vunipola, Owen Farrell, Manu Tuilagi and Mike Brown could all be the class of 2015.
My Prediction then? England to finish second (at worst third) after a further loss to either Wales or Ireland. Solid, attacking performances, fused with relentless defence this Six Nations will surge the potential of this team to extortionate amounts. It doesn’t get any easier with three tests in the heart of Rugby, New Zealand, but this is the first key stage to whether the world cup is won or lost. I’d predict the 3rd test to be won, but the 1st (played with a second team as the Premiership Final is a single week before) and 2nd will be close, but the all black’s will be too clinical.
Where now? England, as a whole, have a few things to work on, such as finishing off the opportunities that have been so wonderfully created by the likes of Care, Farrell and Vunipola. Also; personally there are still lots of improvements, Jonny May needs to accelerate out of his sidesteps. Farrell so desperately requires a bit of pace to back himself when he makes those breaks. Furthermore, the backs need to be immediately by the side of their teammates when they make breaks, like Ashton did so beautifully all those years back. Good support play will double the try count, its as important as that. Tom Youngs could become a serious contender for Hartley, if only he just polished up his throwing.
The entire team – singularly and as a unit – is on the cusp of greatness. Its just polishing up on the little things.