With less than a week to go before last year’s winners kick off the RBS Six Nations 2017, tension is in the air for the current front runners. Unbeaten for the whole of the last season, Eddie Jones’ England, have a tough few weeks ahead of them. With a team plagued by injury most fans are concerned that reigning champions wont’ be able to hold on to the European top spot.
Expectations are at an all-time high, and after a winning streak of 14 games, is the pressure that they are feeling too much for the chosen ones? Can selected substitutes make up for the loss of prolific players on the field?
Fundamental to the successes of Jones’ England are the Vunipola brothers, with both of them out of the picture it remains to be seen whether or not their shoes can be filled.
Robshaw is out which could have repercussions for Hartley who has worked well leading England with the former captains guidance. Known for his aggression in the game, Hartley has only just returned to training to get fit ahead of the Six Nations. He was forced to abandon any efforts made prior to this because of a six week ban. A ban which came about due to his poor conduct on the field. Could he be slipping back into his old ways?
James Haskell is in question and may also be on the bench having not quite recovered from a foot injury. As a result of all this, there are crucial issues with both the front and back rows.
Despite these problems however, England have shown that they can come back from the brink even without the ‘first choice players’, aforementioned.
The champions have a tough opener this year, against the same team they beat in the final game of the tournament last year, France. The victory of that game secured a grand Slam win for England on French turf. They had to fight for their triumph, and rose to the challenge, in what was one of the most exciting games of the last season.
Nathan Hughes has been called upon to fill Billy Vunipola’s position, and will hope to impress Jones in a bid to gain a permanent position in the line-up. The premise is also on for Ben Youngs who will have to find the form that he managed to display last autumn.
Jones owes some of his success due to his open mindedness previously. His selections for England’s International squad, no matter how surprising, have proven to be able to work as a team to gain the desired results. There is every possibility that they will be able to do this again even with the loss of several prolific players.
If Owen Farrell can improve his level of consistency and work with Ford to steal possession from the opposition, and if the right forwards are selected, then Jones’ England will have an increased chance of victory at Twickenham on 4th February.
Forwards: Nathan Catt, Jack Clifford, Dan Cole, Charlie Ewels, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Teimana Harrison, Dylan Hartley, James Haskell, Nathan Hughes, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Joe Marler, Matt Mullan, Kyle Sinckler, Tommy Taylor, Mike Williams, Tom Wood.
Backs: Mike Brown, Danny Care, Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell, George Ford, Jonathan Joseph, Alex Lozowski, Jonny May, Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, Ben Te’o, Anthony Watson, Marland Yarde, Ben Youngs.
Author Lisa Wood
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