England World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward has picked his England team for next Saturday’s clash against Australia and it doesn’t include skipper Dylan Hartley and fly-half George Ford.
Speaking in the aftermath of England’s laboured 21-8 win over Argentina yesterday, Woodward said that Saracens hooker George, who started in all three Lions tests during the summer, should get the nod at number two.
George, who is yet to make a start for England, came off the bench for a record eighteenth time yesterday, and Woodward speaking on Sky Sports said he wanted to see the 27-year-old given a start next weekend,
“I want to see what he can do. I think he should have started the game against Argentina”.
Saying that George and Exeter Chiefs tight-head prop Harry Williams, who he also named in his starting XV against Australia, were putting real pressure on Hartley and Cole for starting berths, he also acknowledged that bringing in George would mean a change of captain against the Wallabies, but that England couldn’t wait until their final autumn test against Samoa to do this.
“I think George and Harry Williams are really knocking on the door against Hartley and Dan Cole, which means a change of captain, but I think we have got to have that change. Samoa will be too late so we’ve got to find out”
In Woodward’s other big call he opts for Owen Farrell, who has been used at 12 by Jones, to start at fly-half in place of George Ford, who impressed against the Pumas yesterday.
Explaining why he thinks the vastly experienced Saracens star, who didn’t play yesterday, should start at 10, he said:
“I think deep down Farrell wants to start at 10. Jonny Wilkinson played at 10, he doesn’t want to play 12. If you’re the top centre-forward in world football you want nine on your back, there’s a real charisma about it.
He wants to strut out with 10 on his back. I’d like to see him play ten because he’s never had a proper start for England in that position”.
In his other change, Maro Itoje replaces clubmate George Kruis in the second-row. While Anthony Watson stays at 15 after switching there yesterday after Mike Brown was forced off with a concussion, with Semesa Rokoduguni who replaced Watson at 14 starting on the right-wing.
Clive Woodward’s England team in full (screenshot via Sky Sports)
Hefin Jones, Pundit Arena