I think it is a good sign that England have brought Joe Simpson into the squad for the Six Nations. He did not start for Wasps against Quins on Saturday which I think they got slightly wrong.
He has shown enough form to warrant his place - he has great pace and I think coach Martin Johnson now has the best three scrum-halves in the country. Danny Care is maturing I think, he is prone to lapses of emotion sometimes and Ben Youngs is still No 1. But it is positive that we have three fantastic scrum-halves heading into a World Cup year.
Louis Deacon had to come back; he has proved his worth with Leicester and has really made a difference there with George Skivington. I don't think that he is the all-round international that England seeks, but he will get stuck in and do a job. He has been rewarded for his fine form at Leicester but I have my reservations. He would not be there if Lawes and Attwood had been available.
Are you telling me that Martin Johnson could not get one of the coaches to spend an hour a day with this guy to sort out his issues? Everyone has issues - Mike Tindall has got issues after 60-odd caps!
Quotes of the week
You have got to say that Johnson has covered all the bases as there are so many players in the Elite Squad and in the Saxons squad. However one guy I am amazed has been overlooked is Leicester's Manu Tuilagi.
He has made himself available for England and I have no idea why Johnson has not included him. I would like to see him in the Elite squad - maybe it is a little bit too soon but I could argue with him not being in the Elite squad but I could definitely argue with him not being a Saxon.
How many other 19-year-olds out there have his potential? Are you telling me that Johnson could not get one of the coaches to spend an hour a day with this guy to sort out his issues? Everyone has issues - Mike Tindall has got issues after 60-odd caps!
Tuilagi has more potential than I have ever seen coming through the system in England at the moment. He is not the done deal yet, and he needs some guidance and tuition, but at 19 you should be able to guide and develop these players.
He can carry the ball and gets through the first line of defence almost at will. It is something we are lacking and I expect him to really go and prove a point with Leicester. If Leicester are to go on and win things in the Premiership and in Europe then he is going to be a key.
I am shocked that Johnson has totally ignored his potential; I really cannot work that one out. To leave him out of even the Saxons I think is an amazing decision.
Mark Riley says...
Manu not English - grow up, it was always good to see the Family including Manu turning out playing/supporting Wigston RFC on a Sunday or on tour at Burnham on Sea. At what point do you become eligible to play for England by your reckoning? Or is it more sinister and you have to date ancestry back to the Anglo Saxons, Picts, Celts, etc - you know what I'm saying here. On a more positive note I can hardly see a repeat of the 'Henson/Tait Moment unless Gav's been doing serious weight training. Manu has come through one of the hardest schools of rugby and is more than holding his own in International company and should be given a chance on the larger stage
Posted 21:59 6th February 2011
Peter Kehoe says...
Well i'm sorry to say, but this guy is a young samoan and should only be playing for Samoa. England have a wealth of young talent and are also one of the largest rugby playing nations in the world, so they shouldn't need to poach players from other countries. New Zealand, Australia and now England are destroying international rugby in the south pacific. England should be concentrating on developing their own current crop of players.
Posted 13:41 1st February 2011
Jake A says...
I think that Martin Johnson should have picked Manu Tuilagi as he is or could be a future start for england he is strong and brings more physicality to the england team which has been something that there has been lacking the last few years. Even if he comes on as a sub halfway through a match it will do him good having international coachea around him to help further improve his game.
Posted 10:21 31st January 2011
Dave Bell says...
@ ben sorry tp say but mike catt was south african hwndrie fourie is south african dylan hartley new zeland there is a couple of players who have played for england who are not "english" but they still were good enough for england and with him not been picked for the eps squad i totally agree with johno there mat tait was taken to the dry cleaners by gavin henson and if you did put manu against some of the best outside centres in the world will teach him a lesson or two and i totally agree with tim dont throw then in at the deepend bring them on slowly just look at the volcano he is crap and gone off the radar and so has varndell, and i dont think that would be good for manu at all... And im not being funny if manu did go to the world cup and scored the winning try all of you would be going he Is the best england centre ever and thank god he is english. And @ ben jon clarke got showed up by manu in the fixture at welford road and you say that he has got fast feet manu proved that he has with the trys he scored againt sale and newcastle and bath this season also with manu he has a low sense of gravity to witch helps him to burst through tackles
Posted 08:09 31st January 2011
Micheal Bannon says...
As good as he is ... just remember he is still 19 .... he has plenty of time to play in world cups etc !!! jamie heslip didnt make irelands world cup squad last time around and now he's one of the best 8ths in the world !!!!!
Posted 11:55 29th January 2011
Jeremy Edwards says...
Dewi, I have, in this case no excuse but to agree with you. I'm never ever going to be a fan of 'Project Banahan', because like you I see serious potential in this young Tiger. Johnson clearly has no idea what a good centre looks like and having watched players such as Tait and Simpson-Daniel - men with considerable natural talent - go by the wayside in previous squad annoucements, to be totally honest I'm not surprised. Squad time, be it training/ team runs/ conditioning sessions and skills training are all oportunities for the England Coaching staff to spend time with precocious talent such as this (and the latter mentioned players). I cant see any serious plans to play a more complete style of rugby if we continue to exclude our best assetts. Shame
Posted 13:39 26th January 2011
Pat Bromley says...
Jonno has done us a favour, if manu was in either squad it would leave tigers with only 1 centre in the first team squad. having already called up flood, allen, twelvetrees, & hipkiss in either full or saxons squads, Tigers only have manu and matt smith left!
Posted 13:27 19th January 2011
Nathan T says...
I actually agree with him not being picked just yet, he needs to work on his defence more. Too many times he goes looking for the big hit and drifts out of the line. He needs more game time at the tigers. Also there's no way any of you can say youngs, lawes etc should of been picked earlier and would of played as well as they did. form at club level doesnt always work out to form at international level.
Posted 20:41 18th January 2011
Tamer James says...
Just watched Mani play against the Scarlets. He came up against the "in form" centre in Wales this year Jonathan Davies, and held a very good account of himself. I agree he is not the finished article, but i would much prefer to see Tindall and Hape lining up against Wales. Roberts and Hook will run through and around those pair. If England are going to challenge the best teams in the world they need creativity in midfield. Although not born in England, Flutey and Mani could spark an English run in the world cup.
Posted 19:59 15th January 2011
Luke Coleman says...
I just find it a little ironic, many articles from well established rugby journalists consistently write about how New Zealand cherry pick the Polynesian islanders..... I wonder their view on the selection "Mani" - "O, but he went to school here!" -Every NZ Polynesian Islanders went to school in NZ apart from Joe Roco..... - It is up to Manu who he wants to play for - I have been to Fiji and asked why JR moved - Fijians are just as proud to wear the All Blacks jersey as their own plus $ was mentioned. Anyway Manu will eventually get selected for England just in very bizarre circumstances (Eg. Mike Tindall gets injured Johnson then calls up Mike Catt as Will Greenwood turned it down as he was commentating on the game, Catt then gets injured, Johnson then accidentally puts Manu on the pitch who goes on to receive MOM and Johnson claims it was all part of "slowly introducing him to test rugby")
Posted 09:26 14th January 2011
Tim Right says...
My view is England will not beat NZ or SA in the World Cup, so put him in and any other rising star, if Johnson had done this in the first place I would not hold this view, the amount of great young players we have and have not been played is not acceptable, I hope Johnson will step down after the World Cup because of this.
Posted 20:38 13th January 2011
David Allan says...
What frustrates me is that England keep ignoring fantastic talent. If he were Australian he would bi being looked after by the best coaches. The problem comes when he is then called upon at say the world cup but will only have maybe 2 caps if he's lucky. He should be in and by the the crunch games in the world cup (make no mistake getting out of the group is not going to be a given) he would have had 10 caps - this would have made a massive difference. The same could be said about Courtney Lawes and Ben Foden, even though are in there now, they are world class and should have had 30+ caps by the wc and not max 15.
Posted 15:32 13th January 2011
Daniel Austin says...
He grew up in England and therefore is an 'Englishman'! If you go back far enough most of us are not from these shores so what's the problem?
Posted 14:14 13th January 2011
A B says...
Considering that Johnson himself turned his back on England and played under 21s All Blacks i dont think he is in much of a position to start discriminating players, especially that a lot of players in our squad are not born in England. However Manu has been the form centre in the premiership and it would be best to give him a chance rather than Samao getting in there first.Why did we make the exception for Cips, Youngs and Lawes if we cant for him?Tindall is far too slow now and its time to make way, let take a chance to get new blood in, but dont do what happened to Tait if it doesnt go as well as we expect
Posted 13:59 13th January 2011
Leon P says...
I hope Dewis statement best 3 scrum halves in the country means in England as I think Phillips, Peel, O leary, Cuisiter and Blair may think differently. Tuilagi, whilst talented is playing for a team who are usually on top and going forward, he needs to come through some testing games at HC level where he is facing the cream of europes best centres before he can be judged at international level.
Posted 13:52 13th January 2011
Ben Brown says...
Just to let you know Rob, I am far from a typical Saints fan! And Clarke was going to be picked for England a couple of years ago before he got badly injured and was out of the game for a couple of years, this season has seen him come back to the form he was showing before he got injured. I just feel that to play for your country is the greates honour you could get as a sportsman. I would never dream of playing for anyone but England, regardless of where I lived.
Posted 12:44 13th January 2011
James Brooks says...
i tihnk the issue of nationality is irrelivant, the bottom line is we have a huge core of english english players, and the way of the world dictates that if you are born in a country or stay for a certain amount of time you become a resident..if you wanna get political about immigration issue's i suggest the bbc website coz this is sky sports and we're talking rugby...i'd like to take the chance to exaime not just individual selection policy here, but johnno's overall conservative selection policy altogether...it took along time correct me if i'm wrong to get cole,lawes,youngs,ashton etc into the squad, it took outside criticism and bad results to force his hand yet look at the results it has yielded...i remember a young wilko getting hammered in the that gastly tour down under at 18....matty tait being man handled by henson on debut in cardiff...it happens unfortunatly i like to call it international hazing...but off the back of this can come a young mature well oiled machine, if anything i think when you have the obvious talent you MUST be exposed the earlier the better with the right protection of course...i think its essential to their development...the younger great players get invovled the greater they become given an injury free run ie: jason leonard at 22 johnno at 23 johnny 18 tait 18, and now lawes 21 youngs 20 ashton 23...are their not enough examples here to back up what i say should i refer to the history books and cite a young underwood or carling-one of englands youngest and greatest captains? i understand picking form based players i really do but in light of the long run game of using this world cup as a platform for the next and so on i would b taking the future into this 6 nations and a top heavey balance of youth vs experiance in the wc leaning youths way...i'm gutted to see the following miss out this year as i think they should be there in some capacity marler,gaskell,wood,saull,tuilagi,joseph
Posted 10:43 13th January 2011
Lee Wynd says...
Manu Tuilagi grew up in the UK; he attended school in Hinckley and has played all of his rugby here. Visa irregularities aside, how is he anything other than an Englishman of Samoan heritage? Or should we drop Dylan Hartley (New Zealand), Paul Doran-Jones (Ireland), Simon Shaw (Kenya), Joe Simpson (Australia), Matt Banahan (Jersey) and Delon Armitage (Trinidad) to satisfy your 'little-Englander' mentalities?
Posted 10:14 13th January 2011
Rob Gordon says...
Ben Brown is a typical Saints Fan, Clarke is a good Premiership player, but to suggest International capabilities is strange! You should also be careful how you phrase things, He has lived in the Uk since he was 14 and therefore is British through choice
Posted 09:55 13th January 2011
Eddy Crowe says...
his family are samoan but he has come to school over here and any i know manu and he want to play for england not samoa
Posted 09:47 13th January 2011