Stuart Barnes says that the inclusion of Tom Youngs and Joe Launchbury for England's clash against Fiji is the right call
Stuart Barnes backs Stuart Lancaster's call to hand Tom Youngs his England debut against Fiji.
Last Updated: 08/11/12 4:28pm
Youngs gets his chance because of injury has struck first choice Dylan Hartley and the remaining contenders Joe Gray and Rob Webber, following Lee Mears' retirement.
There has been a lot of criticism directed towards Youngs who only switched to hooker from centre three years ago, however Stuart Barnes believes it is not a risky selection.
"I think if England had been playing against South Africa or facing a line-out against the likes of Nathan Sharpe or Kieran Read then it would have been a risky selection," said Barnes on Sky Sports News.
"But England have Fiji up first and I think it is the ideal opportunity for Stuart Lancaster to get Tom Youngs back in the groove.
"There is a lot of talk about his performance for Leicester against Gloucester a few weeks ago as he had a bit of a shocker. But we all have short memories and only a few years ago Warren Gatland applied great psychological pressure on Dylan Hartley after he had a nightmare for Saints against Leicester.
"We all remember that England went to Cardiff and won and Hartley came through it with an outstanding performance. One bad game is not the end of the world and, because it's Fiji, I think it's a good call."
Lancaster has made five changes from the final Test XV who drew against the Boks in the summer, including Charlie Sharples coming on to the right wing for Chris Ashton, Ugo Monye taking over from Ben Foden on the left and Alex Goode getting the nod ahead of Mike Brown. The latter is a move Barnes says has nothing to do with form.
"You have to stop thinking about who is the best fullback," explained the former England fly-half.
"If you are looking at week-in and week-out form in the Premiership then Mike Brown is the best fullback.
"I feel really sorry for Brown; he is the unluckiest bloke in this team. He is out of this team because of deficiencies elsewhere in the England set-up.
"They still have this yawning chasm when it comes to creativity in the midfield and Alex Goode has a little bit more in terms of vision, passing and the awareness of space than Brown.
"In the sense of Toby Flood, Manu Tuilagi and Brad Barrit they have got too much in the ways of bangers and one-dimensional rugby so they have to find someone to step into second receiver - to be fly-half when Flood is not there.
"Brown does not do that, he is an out and out fullback. Goode is into that system, he is in the team not because he is a better fullback than Brown but because the balance of the team dictates it."
Getting the balance right
Barnes may feel that Brown is unlucky but is far happier to see Joe Launchbury - who can play in the back and second row - on the bench.
"Stuart Lancaster rates him hugely and has been talking about him for some time," said Barnes.
"I have not always seen that but last weekend for Wasps against Saracens I thought he was magnificent. What we saw was his ability to cover the ground like Courtney Lawes. He is a young man and has huge potential.
"I was very critical of the last regime for not looking ahead, for not getting the balance of now and the future right. So I am delighted with the selection of Launchbury.
"I think Mouritz Botha is a good player but is he going to be the player who can take you to a World Cup? I have my reservations so I think it is a really good call."