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SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: Eddie Jones Has Made The Right Decision To Protect Marcus Smith – His Time Will Come

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: Eddie Jones has made the right decision to protect Marcus Smith – his time will come for England … while Adam Radwan and Freddie Steward have a chance to shine against Tonga

  • England team selection remains exciting despite Marcus Smith on the bench
  • My favorite Owen Farrell midfield Manu Tuilagi Henry Slade will meet
  • Adam Radwan and Freddie Steward should see a lot of the ball against Tonga


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While the Twickenham faithful may be frustrated that Marcus Smith starts Saturday’s game on the bench, they should be excited about the team’s selection.

This England team is serious, both against Tonga and against Australia and South Africa in the coming weeks. It has a nice feeling.

Smith’s moment will come very soon, but he’s reportedly been struggling with a leg problem and hasn’t been able to be a part of the week’s preparation, so it’s exactly the right decision for Eddie Jones to ease the pressure. and put it in the bank. Part of the process of being seen to head a new England back division is that he should be a leader for the week in training and meetings. And if that hasn’t been possible this week, well it’s a bit unfortunate, but not the end of the world.

England team selection remains exciting despite Marcus Smith on the bench

England team selection remains exciting despite Marcus Smith on the bench

This, considering injuries and discomfort, is England’s Gun XV and, with one exception in the last row, I cannot fault it.

I’m delighted that Farrell is still rated a 10, which I’ve always seen as his best position. With Smith breathing down his neck, I hope he’s in his prime.

The choice should be between him and Smith going forward, although Eddie has made it pretty clear that his pattern will revert to 12 when Smith starts.

What it does do, of course, is reunite my favorite English midfielder pair from Jones’s reign: Farrell axis Manu Tuilagi, Henry Slade who led Ireland to the cleanup in Dublin at the start of the 2019 Six Nations.

That trio working together ticks many boxes, especially if England come out with a more positive mindset than they demonstrated at the Fall Cup this time last year and then in the Six Nations.

Owen Farrell (above) should respond favorably to Smith by breathing down his neck

Owen Farrell (above) should respond favorably to Smith by breathing down his neck

Owen Farrell (above) should respond favorably to Smith by breathing down his neck

Ben Youngs continues his long career at nine and at 32 he’s still far from over, but he needs to cut down on his box kicks and get that back division moving with the fast pass we know he possesses. Speed ​​up the game, don’t slow it down.

Behind all that, what an opportunity to shine for Newcastle midfielder Adam Radwan and Tigers winger Freddie Steward. There should be a lot of possession in his way with that strength and creativity in midfield.

Not only does Radwan possess an electric rhythm, but he also has an unorthodox running style with different lines and angles on most of the wings.

I’ve seen it long enough to suspect that it will be even more effective at the test level than in club rugby if used correctly.

Steward has made a name for himself as a rock solid defender with a commanding presence under the high ball, but he also has good pace and attacking skills and certainly packs a punch when he hits the line. This should be an opportunity for him to show that other dimension of his game.

Adam Radwan (above) and Freddie Steward should see a lot of ball against Tonga

Adam Radwan (above) and Freddie Steward should see a lot of ball against Tonga

Adam Radwan (above) and Freddie Steward should see a lot of ball against Tonga

And the last row? Well, we’ve been here before. England have two exceptional youth No. 8s in Alex Dombrandt and Sam Simmonds and I really see no reason not to give one of them a long run, with the other on the bench.

They would be interchangeable in that regard.

Not that I think Tom Curry can’t make a very decent punch at No. 8, but the transition was far from perfect when he played there in the 2020 Six Nations.

He will have to learn his trade there while we have two fit specialists playing with his thumbs.

But why do it? Is Courtney Lawes’ additional lineout option playing as a blind flank and the slightly heavier scrum power it offers so vital?

For starters, I’d say Curry offers a third lineout option, but does the make-up of a potentially devastatingly fast, ball-playing defense really change for that perceived marginal gain in the tight?

Tonga will not provide a definitive answer. We will have to wait for the Australia and Boks games for that.

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