Blogs & Opinion

Last-chance saloon

England must box clever

Features Posted 13th November 2008 view comments

All the talking, all the ducking and diving goes out the window. England have to stand up and be counted once and for all.

They can say that they have been taking it easy and building up the team but it all boils down to one thing this weekend - winning!

Stepping up

England came into this tournament as second favourites and quite frankly teams like Ireland and Fiji have pushed them aside as far as commitment and desire goes.

Ellis: In the centre?

Ellis: In the centre?

I am afraid they have failed miserably in that department, I am not saying they are not trying, far from it, but it is time for each player to look at themselves in the mirror and say 'this is where the talking stops'.

Tony Smith also has to step it up - he has to make decisions that will prove that he is one of the great international coaches.

We have had ten tries scored against us out wide - seven by wingers and three by centre. You don't have to be a genius to work out where we need to tighten up our defence.

Quotes of the week

England v New Zealand
8.30am, Saturday, Sky Sports 2

His selection is going to be crucial. Smith has named 19 in the squad and he has suggested in the media that of that 19, two will be eliminated. However, I think he is squandering his wealth as Ade Gardner has not been included - to me he is still playing ducks and drakes!

He did suggest to me and the Sky Sports team that any of the players available could be selected. He will not make that decision until one hour before the kick-off. That means to me that he may come up with some surprises.

Beef up the centre

It would not surprise me if Gareth Ellis is switched into the centre position because we desperately need some presence there. We need some beef and solid defence and Ellis would give us that.

We have had 10 tries scored against us out wide - seven by wingers and three by centres. You don't have to be a genius to work out where we need to tighten up our defence.

I would also give Leon Pryce one last chance. If Pryce wants to be classified as a world-class player then this is where he has to prove it. His last three performances have been very poor and that includes the Grand Final.

Pryce has to fire there are no two ways about it. He has to give England that attacking flair and the pressure heaped upon him is immense.

Higham to start

He does however, have the platform. The forwards have all my respect and the likes of Adrian Morley, Jamie Peacock, Gareth Hock, JamesGraham and JAmes Roby are all top quality internationals. But I would start Mickey Higham.

Higham showed last week that he is capable of making the breaks and making the hard yards. Most of all he creates havoc in the defence with his quick plays of the ball. All our opponents have been allowed to hold us down by the Australian referees.

We need to be strong to get away from that, we need to fight away from them holding us down. That way we will either win a penalty or at least get a quick play-the-ball. So for me Higham should start with Roby in reserve.

Roby has earned his crust and his reputation by coming off the bench at St Helens. He is a devastating weapon when he does that and I think if we hit them with a Higham-Roby combination we can see the Kiwis off.


Not only has the British media stuck the boot in, but the Australian media have absolutely ridiculed them too.

They have said that this is the worst English touring side that they have ever come to these shores.

If that is not motivation to win, well I don't know what is.

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