World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward believes that England players should be played in their main positions to allow for the best to come from the team.
On Saturday against France, Maro Itoje was playing in the back-row and Elliot Daly was on the wing, neither of which is their best position, though some would debate otherwise.
Both of these fantastic players have played the majority of their careers in positions different to where they lined up on Saturday and Woodward laid down his view in his column for the Daily Mail about how he feels they would be best utilised.
Sir Clive says Itoje “didn’t look right at six” and is “England’s premier lock”. He would make the call to put Itoje back into the engine room with Joe Launchbury and would promote James Haskell up from the bench to give England some much needed impetus and go-forward.
Sir Clive also made the call that Jack Nowell should be brought into the starting lineup on the wing, taking Elliot Daly’s place.
“It’s a real dilemma with Daly – he offers so much because he is such an all-rounder,” Woodward writes.
“There was one stunning moment in the first half when George Ford had a kick ahead blocked. Daly gathered and turned in one movement and found touch 50 yards upfield with a delightful kick just over the wing’s head.
“It was sheer class and not for the first time I am wondering if, going forward, he shouldn’t be allowed to stake his claim at centre. He looked very at home in midfield in the closing stages after England had rejigged their forces. Centre is his best position. Again these are the difficult calls that keep coaches awake at night.”
The Eddie Jones England era has included some fantastic highlights: the grand slam last year, the tour of Australia and even the win against France can be dissected into some positives for the team as a whole. For a side to win when the statistics and momentum of the game go so far against you is quite stunning. Scott Spedding alone must have had more running yards than the entire England backline bar Mike Brown.
The French team should have sauntered away from Twickenham with a 20-point victory in their pockets, but somehow it was stolen from them at the last. Their scrum decimated the England pack, sending it backwards at a rate of knots. This was not the mean machine that Eddie Jones has been dreaming of, and up until now it appears they have flattered to deceive.
With Billy and Mako Vunipola is was evident that England were missing the ability to get easy ground up the middle of the pitch. Ball carriers like Nathan Hughes were repelled easily, and I cannot have been the only fan watching that thought the idea of sending Owen Farrell up the middle on a crash ball was brainless.
Hartley was clearly short of match intensity and edge, Itoje was not his usual dominant self and the backrow failed to impact on the game.
For the first hour you could tell that the England players were shocked at the intensity, pace and drive that the French team were bringing to Twickenham. Scott Spedding shredded through the England defence with ease a number of times only to be stopped by the ever-reliable Mike Brown.
The way that France were able to dominate the England team will give hope to all of the Red Rose’s future opposition. The mystique has been broken, the weaknesses have been seen by all and now must be addressed.
Ben Youngs and George Ford found themselves playing with back foot ball, an experience that has not been a familiar one for them in the last twelve months. As the forwards’ control of the game lessened, so did the impact that the two men could have on the game.
With a week to prepare for their visit to the Millennium Stadium, all England fans will expect a response.
This is the first real test of Jones’ reign. Will he continue to find ways to improve the team, or will they finally come unstuck?
Dan Higgins, Pundit Arena