SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: Finally an England team with real pace… what a contrast to Eddie’s era!

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: Finally an England team with real pace… what a contrast to the Eddie Jones era! I would have loved to have coached under Owen Farrell and with the likes of Freddie Steward and Ollie Hassell-Collins

  • Steve Borthwick’s first squad selection was a stark contrast to the Jones era
  • He has selected Premiership players capable of playing at real pace
  • The new coach also got it right by making Farrell captain for Six Nations

This first squad selection of England’s new era under Steve Borthwick not only proves he wants to pick a team with pace, but also promises a stark contrast to the Eddie Jones era.

Jones would never have picked the likes of Ollie Hassell-Collins and Ben Earl for the Six Nations like Borthwick did. Under the Australian, England went from one to 15 far too slowly.

To win a World Cup, England cannot rely on brute force alone. You are not South Africa. The selected players must have speed and dynamics.

This first squad selection by Steve Borthwick formed a stark contrast to the Eddie Jones era

This first squad selection by Steve Borthwick formed a stark contrast to the Eddie Jones era

England’s approach and game plan needed to be radically changed, which is why I was so pleased with Borthwick’s selection. It’s very positive. I was Jones’ number one fan up until the week of the 2019 World Cup final. England got their preparation for that game in Yokohama badly wrong. Distractions were everywhere and the team and Jones never recovered.

Borthwick immediately brought a breath of fresh air to the England line-up with new players and a new coaching staff. That said, I’m really looking forward to the Calcutta Cup meeting Scotland in the first round of the Six Nations. That wouldn’t have been the case if Jones were still in charge.

There will be anticipation and excitement in Twickenham on February 4th and that has not been the case in recent years. Put simply, Borthwick has handpicked Premiership players who are all capable of playing at real pace. Hopefully they will be picked in their correct positions.

Borthwick was right to name Owen Farrell (above) captain of the Six Nations

Borthwick was right to name Owen Farrell (above) captain of the Six Nations

Hassell-Collins, Earl and Ben Curry have earned selection for their domestic prowess, and that’s how it should be. Dan Cole is back aged 35 after playing very well for Leicester Tigers. That doesn’t bother me at all. It shows that age is not an obstacle and that form is rewarded.

Borthwick’s decision to captain Owen Farrell is the right one and I would definitely have him start 10th in the Six Nations. There he has to start the Scotland game.

The best I saw England play under Jones was when Farrell, Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade filled 10th, 12th and 13th shirts respectively. Hopefully we can see the trio reunited in midfield. Tuilagi needs to level up and use all his skills. He can’t just be a battering ram. Tuilagi is currently not at his best and if Borthwick improved his form he would be behind Dan Kelly. But hopefully he can be revived with Farrell and Slade by his side.

Ollie Hassell-Collins (above), Earl and Ben Curry earned selection based on their club form

Ollie Hassell-Collins (above), Earl and Ben Curry earned selection based on their club form

There has been a lot of talk about Farrell following his recent suspension. Rugby’s disciplinary procedures make the game look ridiculous. Sport makes itself hostage to luck and allows itself to be criticized. Farrell was at the center of the debate, but this isn’t about him or any person.

Rugby really needs to find clarity and move away from the notion that bans can be reduced by a course in tackling, an admission of guilt or good front-line behavior. It’s embarrassing.

The good news for Borthwick is that Farrell can play against Scotland. That’s all he will focus on and what he can do as a coach.

As expected, veteran Tigers prop Dan Cole was brought back into the set-up

As expected, veteran Tigers prop Dan Cole was brought back into the set-up

Borthwick’s appointment with England is both the present and the future but Australia have made a serious decision by returning to Jones. The decision made me smile as Jones’ return to the international arena adds spice to an already huge World Cup year.

He’ll be a man on a mission. His last three years with England took away a lot of his aura but if I were in charge of Australian rugby I would have made the exact same decision.

Like many others, I have been very critical of Jones as England were backwards and fast in every aspect of the game, but he is excellent at getting a team on form in a short space of time.

There’s now the delicious prospect of Jones possibly training at the World Cup against Borthwick’s England. England were right to get rid of Jones but when he comes back to pursue them there will still be big questions asked of the RFU and chief executive Bill Sweeney. There will be blame if England are knocked out of the tournament by Jones’ Australia.

If that happened Sweeney would be very exposed because the logical course of action in firing Jones would have been to put him on garden leave or ensure he couldn’t join a rival.

It didn’t happen but that’s for the future and Borthwick and England need to focus on the Six Nations first.

I’m looking forward to seeing his team play. Beat Scotland and then Italy at Twickenham and England will really have momentum, which is so important. I would have loved to have coached a team led by Farrell and with the likes of Freddie Steward, Tuilagi, Slade and Hassell-Collins.

It’s a new dawn in English rugby. I look forward to it.

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OUR EXPERT TEAMS FOR SIX NATIONS OPENER

Sir Clive Woodward

15. Freddie Steward

14. Ollie Hassell Collins

13.Henry Slade

12. Manu Tuilagi

11. Cadan Murley

10. Owen Farrell (c)

9. Jack van Poortvliet

1. Ellis Genge

2.JamieGeorge

3. Kyle Sinckler

4. Maro Itoje

5. Courtney Lawes

6.Jack Willis

7. Ben Earl

8. Alex Dombrandt

Chris Foy

15. Freddie Steward

14.Tommy Freeman

13.Henry Slade

12. Manu Tuilagi

11. Elliott Daly

10. Owen Farrell (c)

9. Jack van Poortvliet

1. Ellis Genge

2.JamieGeorge

3. Kyle Sinckler

4. Maro Itoje

5. Jonny Hill

6. Courtney Lawes

7.Jack Willis

8.Sam Simmonds

Alex Bywater

15. Freddie Steward

14.Tommy Freeman

13.Henry Slade

12. Manu Tuilagi

11. Ollie Hassell Collins

10. Owen Farrell (c)

9. Jack van Poortvliet

1. Ellis Genge

2.JamieGeorge

3. Kyle Sinckler

4. Maro Itoje

5. Jonny Hill

6. Courtney Lawes

7. Ben Earl

8.Sam Simmonds

Nick Simon

15. Freddie Steward

14.Tommy Freeman

13. Elliott Daly

12. Dan Kelly

11. Ollie Hassell Collins

10. Owen Farrell (c)

9. Jack van Poortvliet

1. Ellis Genge

2.JamieGeorge

3. Kyle Sinckler

4. Maro Itoje

5. Jonny Hill

6. Courtney Lawes

7.Jack Willis

8. Alex Dombrandt

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Maureen Mackey

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