Saturday, 15 November 2008

Bench press

I must say I'm not hugely optimistic about England's chances against the Aussies this afternoon.

It's not that I disagree with the way Martin Johnson is running the show or, indeed, his selections - broadly he's got it right (although the selection of Jamie Noon continues to baffle). It's just that I don't think that England are quite ready enough to take a Southern Hemisphere scalp just yet, even at Twickenham. Pundits like the Sunday Times' Stephen Jones have declared that it would be a "disaster" to lose to Australia today, that England simply must win. Not only does this attitude seriously underestimate this Aussie squad, it also largely ignores just how poor we've been in recent years. It's going to take some time before the heights reached in the early part of this decade can be achieved again - don't forget just how long it took for Clive Woodard's England to start winning matches regularly against the big 3.

One thing I do like about the way Johnno's going about his business is his obvious desire to have impact players on the bench - Stevens, Hartley, Shaw, Haskell, Lipman, Ellis and Flood are all players who can come on and make a difference (as opposed to the previous regime's "making up the numbers" approach). I'm a little disconcerted about the imbalance between forwards and backs - a couple of injuries to our back division and we could really struggle - but just imagine how demoralising it could be for a tiring Aussie pack to have to face up the rampaging quartet of Stevens. Hartley, Shaw and Haskell in the last quarter...


Nursedude said...

I think it's too early to read too much into England's loss against the Wallabies today. Think of how terrible England looked the year before they want on their run to the championship game at the Rugby World Cup. England have 3 more years to prep for New Zealand. The bigger question will be can England improve enough to compete for and win the 6 Nations. After seeing France and Wales last week, I think they can.

Matt @ Green and Gold Rugby said...

How are Vickey and Sheri feeling this morning? I was worried for them.

Thank god they hadn't changed the sanction law though! Hehehehe