Stuart Barnes believes England's squad for the tour of South Africa has the right mix of experience and youth.
Last Updated: 10/05/12 2:36pm
Stuart Barnes believes that England's squad to tour South Africa has the right mix of experience and youth.
England boss Stuart Lancaster has named 13 uncapped players in the 42-man squad and welcomed back the likes of Danny Care, James Haskell, Paul Doran-Jones, Anthony Allen and Ugo Monye to the set-up.
Carl Fearns, Joe Gray, Joe Marler, Graham Kitchener, Thomas Waldrom, Tom Johnson, Joe Launchbury, George Robson, Tom Youngs, Alex Goode, Jonathan Joseph, George Lowe and Christian Wade will all be pushing for their first caps during the five-match tour.
Care makes his return after he was excluded from England's RBS Six Nations campaign on disciplinary grounds and Barnes believes that Lancaster was right to recall the Quins scrum-half.
"Care has been playing pretty well for Harlequins," he told Sky Sports News HD.
"Lancaster made the decision to discipline Care for off the field activities, but it was the right thing to say that you have served your time and whatever problems you had off the field you have dealt with them.
"Care adds a little bit of bite and a little bit of pace. They have missed that because Ben Youngs form has gone and Lee Dickson, who took over the scrum-half position for much of the Six Nations, is a scurrier and a scuffler, a real mongrel behind his pack.
"But a touch of class, a touch of pace, and a threat around the fringes is needed. I assume that with Youngs coming back to some sort of form that he will regain his position as No. 1 and Care will have to rebuild his career by playing in the midweek team."
Big part for Haskell
Barnes also believes that James Haskell, who has been playing Super Rugby for the Highlanders in New Zealand, will play an important role in the squad - especially as Tom Croft and Tom Wood on the treatment table.
"Haskell is pretty important right now because Croft and Wood are out injured," added Barnes. "As the third choice, he probably would not have toured but now we will see just how strong the Super 15 is.
"Without Croft, England miss somebody who can get over the gain line. Haskell is probably an even more powerful runner but he is not quite the lineout force.
"When you look at the two blind side flankers - Haskell and Phil Dowson - you would assume that Haskell has a very big chance of making the Test berth his. The New Zealand experience should be good for him; he should be a better-rounded player."
Barnes was, however, disappointed by the left-wing selections and feels that despite both Ugo Monye and David Strettle having great work ethic, he believes there were better options out there.
"Monye will be pleased; both him and David Strettle have great work ethics but neither are great finishers," explained the former England No.10.
"It is like England going to the Euros with centre forwards who can get back and mark corners very well but cannot score goals.
"I am a little bit disappointed with the left-wing selections. Monye is not playing badly but if England want to be a world force then working hard and not playing badly is not quite good enough."
The inclusion of the likes of Tom Youngs, Joe Launchbury, Jonathan Joseph and Christian Wade has delighted Barnes, who believes they are all exciting prospects.
"Where I am really pleased is that there are people like Tom Youngs in the squad," added Barnes.
"This is a guy who has not started for Leicester at hooker, but he was identified as a centre that could become something quite special as a hooker. In previous regimes it has taken England a long time to say that this guy has got something special, let's have a look.
"Tom Youngs won't go and play Test match rugby but what he will do is go to South Africa and develop as part as a Test match squad.
"It is not so much that it is Tom Youngs but rather what it is symptomatic of and I really like that. Christian Wade is another exciting player as is Jonathan Joseph. The midweek team is cracking.
"England are going to South Africa to win Test matches but they are also looking for young players to come through. On the balance of the whole 42, I think this is a pretty decent squad.
"I still have question marks on England's capacity to play a creative game and I still have question marks on whether England will score enough points to compete with South Africa, but off the field Lancaster will have this team really well organised and on the field he will have the competitive.
"The question is have they got the ability, have they got the players to take that next step away from winning in pragmatic ways in the Six Nations to winning in South Africa?
"They could lose in South Africa 2-1 and come back and I would be saying that that is substantial development.
"Yes, there are question marks, but there are a lot of exciting developments going into this tour."