The boys in white played I thought with bags of power and aggression but also with real pace in the Ireland game last weekend. Whilst I was watching I felt they has upped the intensity quite a few levels and I also thanked my lucky stars I was not still playing and having to get around the pitch like these current lads are doing!
Standout players for me for me besides the monster that is Billy V were the two second rows. Young Master Itoje fully justified his place and yet again demonstrated he is ready for Test rugby. No as obvious as Billy V’s battering runs but us front rowers appreciate the donkey work of other forwards and my o my Itoje and George Kruis go through a mountain of it. Next time you watch England play it is worth just tracking one of these two and see how much ground they cover and how many rucks they hit and tackes they make. C’mon Eddie – make these two your first choice second rows!
As a Cornwall lad myself I have always followed Jack Nowell’s career. If you saw that sensational tackle on Robbie Henshaw at the weekend you will have seen one of the best tackles of the tournament. He is ticking a lot of boxes as an international player and is another one of this very young crop who are going to get better and better.
Some of the media coverage of the England v Ireland game was a bit luke warm towards England citing a weaker Ireland side than normal and some mistakes and ill discipline. Yes to all that but believe me when I say Ireland are rarely ever weak and have a fantastic and wily coach who makes a lot of his smaller playing base. In a way a smaller amount of players to select from is compensated for by the clarity and consistency you achieve. Players are given a chance to develop into world class players even if they struggle at first as there are often no other options. Jonny Sexton did not set the world alight when he first game on the scene and was in competition with Ronan O Gara for a while. Look at him now – truly a world class fly half. In England we have a habit of jettisoning new players if they are not an instant success because there is always another taxi on the rank.
So three played and two to go and England still the only side who can walk away with the Grand Slam. Wales for some reason are finding it a bit difficult to find the try line although their defence is winning them game after game. France tried to give them a game on Friday night but it all went a bit Inspector Clouseau with a comedy try. George North tried to hack on a loose ball and demonstrated why Man United is not chasing his signature. However the French player did connect and kicked the ball nicely over the line for George to dot down. I suppose they all count! So next up for England is the one that matters. Really, really matters. Lots of demons to be laid to rest and points to prove for both sides. It’s going to be passionate, tense and emotional and that’s why we all love the RBS Six Nations