At the "Centre" of England's Attack Problem
Once again, the boredom of my summer has led me to talk about Johnson's England era. Having already put forward my opinions on who should be England's playmaker, I now will go on to who will England's centre partnership be.
When Cipriani is fit to reclaim his place, or England finds a dominant 10, the likelihood of the back line finally moving and playing some exciting Rugby will increase.
But the centres chosen will have a big role to play in helping this back line move in the way we want to see.
So, that means the two "crash ball" centres that have been picked in previous England squads should never be seen together again (Tindall and Noon).
The old age (in my opinion) crash ball centre, is now dead. There is no room in the modern game for centres that can only run in one direction.
Times have evolved, and so have defenses. You need more than a hefty centre to break down an International defence.
The role of a 12 is more important and has evolved to a second fly half. The second kicker if the 10 is down, the second play maker who is able to float passes out to open up the gaps in the defence. Running straight is not something the international game is built around.
All successful teams have built a backline around a Fly Half and then a Inside centre that is a playmaker.
But still, if your 12 is developed enough to have a playmaking side, with the power and strength to burst lines and take contact, all the better.
For example, I believe Jean De Villiers is the best 12 in the world at the moment, he has great running lines, an understanding of the game with great distribution skills, and is a powerful runner.
Sadly, England don't have anyone like JDV, so in that case they should look for a play maker.
Olly Barkley is a possibility since moving to 12, and while consistently playing there for Bath he has improved a lot. Still, he hasn't proven himself on the international stage.
Anthony Allen is still young, but has proven to be a consistant performer for the Cherry and Whites. He had an unlucky debut throwing an intercepted pass, and missing a crucial tackle of Dan Carter. So I feel he'll have to wait a bit longer for his return to the full England team.
I would probably put Toby Flood there on current form, but with his move to Leicester looking as though he's gone there to play 10, I don't want him switching positions constantly.
So with that, I would say their best candidate is Shane Geraghty. The young Exiles fly half/centre has proved to be a hit as a playmaker from the centre, and after his debut against France, we can only expect more.
Sure, he isn't the most developed physically compared to the players who could be his opposite number—Ma'a Nonu for example—but he has enough tricks in his bag to be more than capable.
Now, to partner the Exiles centre.
With brains I suppose you would preferably suit with brawn, but as noted before England aren't gifted enough to have an international amount of skill with this said amount of brawn.
So we might have to look past just muscles for this one.
There are three nominees in my mind: Jamie Noon, Mike Tindall, and Matthew Tait.
Jamie Noon had a solid six nations and showed his dominance in defence. He proved himself with some bone shuddering tackles, which at one point was a significant factor in an early try against the French.
Yet Noon's downfall is in his attacking ability. He has yet to show any for England, which for me has already eliminated him from the (more like my) England team.
Mike Tindall is a very similar player, but does understand how to attack more than Noon. He has had a couple of good seasons a Gloucester but just isn't an International player anymore.
Then we are on to Matthew Tait.
If any of you have read any other of my articles, you would understand I'm a pretty big fan of Matthew Tait. So my views at time may be slightly biased, but I still believe I'd get a pretty big backing by going for Tait.
Tait has showed he is a world class player. He has grown into a great player after his horror debut against Wales (with thanks to Mr. Henson), and that experience has seemed to help him get where he is today.
His dead ball running is second to none as seen in the World Cup Final, and I'm sure there aren't many on the international stage that can cope with his pace.
Recently, however, I have read an article on how he would like to claim the Sale 15 shirt which I found pretty displeasing, I hope its just a bit of pre-season confusion.
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