The Rugby Club: Ireland scrum-half Tomas O'Leary is backing Freddie Burns to bounce back

Last Updated: 23/01/14 9:47pm

Gloucester fly-half Freddie Burns has seen his England shares drop in recent times as his form has slipped and the likes of George Ford have stepped up their game.

However having recently announced he will leave Gloucester at the end of the season, Burns has begun to work his way back into contention and was impressive in Gloucester's win over Perpignan in the Heineken Cup.

Dropped from the Elite Players Squad down to the Saxons, Burns will run things from halfback when the Saxons take on Ireland A on Saturday and will be determined to show Stuart Lancaster that he is ready to take that step up to international level.

And Ireland scrum-half Tomas O'Leary is backing Burns to bounce back.

"There has been a lot of talk about his form but a lot of halfbacks go through peaks and troughs - everything goes through you as a halfback so you can't get away with it when you make mistakes," said O'Leary on The Rugby Club.

"But he seems like a level headed guy and perhaps his contract negotiations affected him as well. Every international team needs alternatives - two or three lads vying for the same position, especially key positions like your No.10.

"He certainly offers something different - he attacks the line and he brings his centres onto the ball and brings the wingers in as well. Heading into a World Cup I think England need all the options they can get."

Dewi Morris agrees that Burns will find his form and says playing behind an underperforming pack at Gloucester has not helped his cause.

"I think every player goes through a drop in form - it just happens," explained Morris.

"I don't think the Gloucester front five have helped him, though. For me he has dropped below Stephen Myler and George Ford in the England set-up because he is trying too hard and is trying to create things off a platform that unfortunately is not there.

"However as we know he has got one heck of a talent - something that Owen Farrell can only dream off. He has got great pace off the mark, great vision and he stands flat. He has all the skills and all the tricks in the book.

"It is up to Lancaster to decide which way England want to play. Do they want a Burns way - or a Ford way which is exactly the same? Or do they want to go a Farrell way that is a bit more pragmatic - using the likes of Manu Tuilagi and Brad Barritt to crash the ball up and get you in a position to kick your goals?"

Backrow battle

Lancaster has picked a young and inexperienced Saxons team for their clash against the Irish Wolfhounds with only three capped players in the team - Burns, scrum-half Joe Simpson and winger Charlie Sharples. It will be a tough ask against a Wolfhounds side that boasts 12 Irish internationals but Scott Quinnell says there is still plenty of dog in the Saxons pack to set up an attacking platform.

"They have got some big men, some strong men who are all in form," said the former Wales No.8.

"The backrow really excites me with Dave Ewers at No.8 who has been outstanding for Exeter this season. He carries the ball well; he gets over the gain line and is involved in everything. He sets you targets, which is wonderful.

"Calum Clark at No.6 has had a few disciplinary problems over the last few years but the discipline is back in his game and he has been superb. He is another one who likes to be involved in everything and right in the oppositions face.

"Luke Wallace has been one of the outstanding 7s out there - he wears 6 on his back for Harlequins but he is an out and out 7. I can't wait to see him in this Saxons pack."

Dewi also has high praise for Wallace and is also excited to see what Anthony Watson can do on the wing.

"Wallace is a game changer for me and so is Anthony Watson. I think giving him a run out in the Saxons is the right thing to do - in the back of his mind Lancaster must be thinking 'Yarde's injured, Wade's injured, Ashton is out of form a little bit - shall I try something different?'

"I would love Watson to start in Paris as long as they have a midfield who will distribute the ball and give him a chance. Watson has something that other players can only dream off - absolute out and out gas. I would pick him, he is outstanding."

See how Burns, Watson and the rest of the Saxons get on against The Irish Wolfhounds, 5pm, Sat, Sky Sports 1HD