Our newest columnist, Andy Goode, explains why Eddie Jones’ recent comments will motivate England’s players further ahead this weekend’s Champions Cup semi finals.
Although Eddie Jones caused a good deal of controversy by claiming that there were four or five individuals who have shown the wrong attitude since the Six Nations, I feel he is using the media to motivate his players as the club season draws to a conclusion.
Eddie likes to use the press to communicate with his players, and so his warning will act as a rocket to those who may have not performed as well they would have liked.
At the end of the day, with his background, Eddie will want to go to Australia to win and will do everything in his power to get a result down there. So I think his message in the media will help players refocus before travelling down under this summer.
Yet this weekend’s Champions Cup semi finals will also offer a massive opportunity to players like Dan Robson, who has been brilliant having come in at scrum half for Wasps while Joe Simpson has been out injured.
Joe Launchbury has the opportunity to go up against George Kruis and Maro Itoje, while Christian Wade and Chris Ashton will be competing for a place on the wing.
Although Nathan Hughes will not qualify for England until after the summer tour, he has the chance to go up against Billy Vunipola, the world’s form number eight. Will Fraser is a guy wanting to push into the England squad, so he will be eager to play against James Haskell in the backrow.
Even though Saracens’ playing style has been criticised, they have a decent attacking structure with Owen Farrell at ten, but Wasps have the ability to score tries from anywhere and been on fire this year. Jimmy Gopperth, the Piutau brothers, George Smith, Elliot Daly and Christian Wade have been fantastic this season.
Everyone in the Wasps backline can score tries, but they also have the ability to shut teams down when they want to. This game then is a fantastic opportunity to see some of England’s best talent, but I will let my heart rule my head and go for Wasps to win.
In the other semi final, I see the Leicester Tigers beating Racing in Nottingham. Freddie Burns has learnt to control games from ten while also attacking the line, Vereniki Goneva is scoring tries for fun and Telusa Veainu is always dangerous. That’s even before I mention Manu Tuilagi.
Tuilagi is one of the reasons why I’m glad to be retired, I have no interest in tackling someone that big and powerful ever again. Despite what Richard Cockerill said, I am pretty sure Dan Carter will spend the afternoon manning down the barricades, trying to stop Manu from smashing over the gain line and getting the offload game going.
Every team targets tens because they are the fulcrum of the opposition in attack, so you want to see Carter make tackles and put the effort in so that it might make life a little easier when he has the ball in attack. Likewise, I expect to see Joe Rokocoko run at Burns.
Having selected a big backrow in Michael Fitzgerald, Lachlan McCaffrey, Opéti Fonua, Leicester have a pack that can deal with Racing’s power. I say this despite the fact that Dan Carter has fitted seamlessly into the Racing team.
Leicester and Wasps to win, but only just.
Andy Goode, Pundit Arena,
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