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The NH teams have looked awful so far, except the French, who for 20 mins did a passable NZ impression against the Irish, before falling into some sort of collective daze. Why are England even thinking about men like Banahan (who is clearly one dimesional and not very good at that either), Moody (who for up to 4-5 years has been a shadow of what he was and is now constantly crocked), Tindhall (slow and one dimensional), Hape (see Tindhall) and Deacon (never good enough for anything other than Premiership bullying) and Cueto (Mark, taxi to the tryline because you have clearly forgotten where it is, or are just too slow to get there!)? MJ talks bravely but is uber conservative. Now that Care is out, at least Simpson might see some game time. Midfield needs to be Flutey and Tuilagi. Both Wood and Croft must be in the back row, ith Haskell and not Easter. I'm sure we'll grind our way to a 1/4 final, and MJ will survive the chop...unfortunately.
Posted 11:47 18th August 2011
Timing of the World Cup what a load of Bull---t .Why on an early Summer tours do the Home Nations do so badly and lets see if that is the case the Home Nations should do very well in November in theory and they don't.In November after the best part of 8-9 months of rugby the Southern Hemp. teams should be out on their feet and easy pickings.
Posted 21:45 17th August 2011
The crux of Englands success in the coming world cup, is whether we can find a backrow and a midfield 3 (10/12&13)that can function. As our set piece is capable of competing with anyones and if given space our back 3 have the gas (apart from Banahan who is ponderous and lacks even the most basic of skills to stand a man and pass to a support player) to trouble sides. A settled backrow is now imperative, against Ireland can we go back to basics and have 6-Croft, 7-Haskell, and 8-Easter with Wood on bench. Midfield, we cannot die wondering and start with 10-Wilkinson, 12-Flood & 13-tuilagi. Is Armitage not an option also at 13 and cover for wing. I dont see how James S-Daniel got cut before Banahan who is surely the most over rated English player ever, his fluffing of the nailed on try when he tried to run over S. Williams instead of standing him up was criminal, should have neen subbed there and then, imagine him trying to do that against the kiwis he'd have been deposited to sit in the stands and that s where England should keep him... If Moody is injured then I wouldnt take him, would prefer a fully fit player to one who having had a serious knee op breaksdown after 35 mins in what was effectively a come back game, unless he plays some part in the Ireland game and comes through unscathed...
Posted 08:51 15th August 2011
Hi Stuart, I respect your views and often find them insightful and particularly balanced. However, as a kiwi in London I do get sick of the perenial "calender favours the South" arguments. In June we hear that the Northern teams are "tired" and the Southern teams "fresh". In November, the Northern teams are "underdone" and the Southern teams are "hardened". The '95 World Cup was in May, and the final was NZ v SA. In the South at the moment, there are deep seated concerns our players are burnt out and struggling with injuries. Couldn't we just say that every time of year has pros and cons for both, and the teams that prepare best will improve their odds, rather than this overly jingoistic "the decks stacked against us" nonsense?
Posted 16:42 12th August 2011
I had the pleasure of watching the tri-nations prior to the England/Wales game as am sure most rugby fans did. It did give me real concerns how England will fair in the forthcoming world cup. I did not think comments my Johnson helped after the game saying it was like a pre-season game and it showed!....Am afraid it showed more than that. The game simply was boring and lacked ambition but more worrying was actual players excecution. Compare that to the tri-nations game earlier it simply demonstrated to me the huge gap in the hemispheres abilities and moreover confidence and enthusiasm to play. There needs to be a huge improvement from England and time is rapidly running out!
Posted 16:02 12th August 2011
Hi Stuart: your comments are of course very astute, both teams (all 4 actually) looked as though they had not touched a ball in anger for 2 months ....fact! BUT quite often in knock out tournments its all about momentum and looking at Englands schedule it isnt difficult to see them going on a 4 / 5 game unbeaten run now and hopefully Ben Youngs and Toby Flood (both missing on Saturday) can produce a dynamic which was missing last week end.... Wilko for all his great attributes is a bit predictable and my guess is that the big 3 will have a plan to combat him in open play; whereas the Leicester duo are more difficult to second guess, especially Youngs at his best; and he will need to be just that! Come on England...............
Posted 19:56 9th August 2011
Hi Stuart To what degree do you think the interpretation and consistency of the refereeing at the breakdown is going to determine the outcome of the RWC? During the Autumn Internationals last year the All Blacks, most noticeably Messrs McCaw and Woodcock seemed to have some sort of IRB/Papal dispensation in comparison to the rest of the players on the park regarding offside positioning. It was novel to see McCaw being pinged by Alain Rolland for this in their recent demolition of the Springboks D team; but I can't see this happening much in the land of the long cloud during the forthcoming RWC!
Posted 17:15 9th August 2011
Think Wilko has had the armband before and if I recall right he didn't seem the same player with it. I think he has enough on his shoulders when he plays and doesn't need the extra responsibility of captaincy. Just a thought though, if Moody turns out to be injured for the WC and Tindall happens to get injured(as is often the case for him in recent years) who gets the armband? It needs to be a guaranteed starter who can lead the group, I'm not sure we have a good option!
Posted 13:21 9th August 2011
I wouldn't have Steve Thompson in the team ahead of Dylan Hartley. Hartley played very well last season and when he was put under pressure by Gatland, he delivered. I'd also rather have Easter instead of Haskell as he's a lot more effective off the bench. Dylan Armitige, as much as I dislike him, also has to be on the bench.
Posted 12:01 9th August 2011
Do northern hemisphere union sides spend any time on offense at all ? Yes defences are usually sound but the one thing that hits you is the attacking is average to awful... Plan A to about Y is head down and barge at the line even if there's a massive overlap outside you. Players seem blinkered.Then there's the pass it to whoevers standing next to you( usually stood still) and the long line of passes across the pitch until the winger runs into touch. And the endless fumbles and missed passes and running into each other and breakdowns...Union attack always looks disjointed, off the cuff and basic. And then we see clubs appointing skills and attack coaches- good one that.
Posted 10:50 9th August 2011
Hi Stuart, I was at the game saturday and thought that England were well in controll but let the foot off the gas and with injuries and changes at half time, thought we did well in the end. However we still have weakness in the 3/4 and the ballance just was not there for me, and the back 3 did not function properly. The forward power was there at times, but just lacked leadership. I think this world cup has wilcos Captancy written all over it.. My starting 15 would be: 1-Sherridan 2-Thompson 3-Cole 4 - Palmer 5 - Laws 6 - Croft 7 - Wood 8 - Haskell 9 - Young 10 - Wilkinson 11 - Sharples 12 - harpe 13 - Tuilagi 14 - Ashton 15 - Foden My bench would be: 16 - Danny Care 17 - Chris Robshaw 18 - Dylan Hartley 19 -Toby Flood 20 - Matt Stevans 21 - Matt Banaha 22 - Mike Tindal
Posted 16:01 8th August 2011