Rugby Union Expert & Columnist
England need to 'tinker' on Australia tour, says Dewi Morris
Last Updated: 21/03/16 11:56pm
England have won their first Grand Slam since 2003 but head coach Eddie Jones would have been straight back to the drawing board to start planning for their summer tour to Australia.
I think the England players have really responded well to Jones - Steve Borthwick and Paul Gustard have come in and added their nous defensively and tactically in the set-piece too.
Looking ahead to Australia and the World Cup in 2019, it is time to tinker and I think Jones has got some tough decisions to make.
Good coaches are always looking to make winning sides better and Jones is a very good coach. Looking at all the positions, I think this is what Jones needs to be looking at ahead of their summer tour...
I don't think Jones needs to do a great deal here. I think Joe Marler is the starting loosehead and Mako Vunipola comes off the bench. Dylan Hartley's captaincy was outstanding and I would stick with him as skipper. His arrows have been excellent and he is a great scrummager too. England also have Jamie George and Luke Cowan-Dickie pushing him hard for the No 2 jersey. England's wins have been built on their forwards dominating and that starts in the front row.
We have some great talent in the lock position and I thought George Kruis was just superb this Six Nations campaign. Having watched Maro itoje play in the U20s I was not surprised at the impact he made, however I don't think his future is in the second row. England also have Courtney Lawes to call upon and of course Joe Launchbury will come back from injury too. I think Kruis and Launchbury would make one heck of a second row combination who could really dominate in the years to come.
Billy Vunipola has made some incredible metres carrying the ball, however I think that England over-use him. That is why I would move Itoje to No 6; I think he would flourish and help Billy with the hod carrying. If Jones does not think Matt Kvesic or anyone else out there is good enough for England, then he is going to have to turn Jack Clifford into a No 7. I think that would make a pretty well-balanced back row with plenty of power and some real pace. It would be hard on Chris Robshaw and James Haskell but I am looking at what England will need for Australia and for the World Cup.
I think Manu Tuilagi needs to go away and learn how to distribute and work on his kicking game - very much like what Ma'a Nonu did a few years back.
No issue here. How Danny Care ever fell out of favour with Stuart Lancaster is beyond me. Ben Youngs and Care will always be pushing each other for the starting berth and I have no issue with that.
George Ford really needs to find some confidence. I think Jones will need Ford because of his vision and his ability to make a break. With Henry Slade coming back it will be interesting to see what Jones does with Owen Farrell - in my opinion Farrell is just not an international No 12. Does Ford retain the starting No 10 jersey or will Farrell take it over? If Jones just wants a kicking No 10 then he will go with Farrell, but I hope he sticks with Ford and gives him the kicking duties because that will add to his confidence.
Slade is the future for England in this position. I know he played No 13 for Exeter on Saturday but he showed some lovely touches against Saints despite being a little rusty.
Jonathan Joseph is an option at 13 for me, with Manu Tuilagi coming off the bench. I think Tuilagi needs to go away and learn how to distribute and work on his kicking game - very much like what Ma'a Nonu did a few years back. You cannot always get through the door by smashing it down, sometimes you need to unlock it with a clever chip or by offloading and if Tuilagi can add a bit more to his armoury then he would be very dangerous indeed.
Aaron Mauger still reckons that Tuilagi can be even better than Nonu but he needs to work on his skill set. I would not start Tuilagi but rather use him as the ultimate impact player.
I would love to see Anthony Watson given a go at full-back. Mike Brown has done nothing wrong but he needs to look up when he runs the ball back. I think Watson has a better distribution game than Brown. I like Jack Nowell on the wing but, on the other wing, how about giving someone like Marland Yarde or even Christian Wade a go? I think the fast tracks of Australia would be perfect for Wade to show off his exceptional speed.
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