- the suggestion by Wasps and Wales coach Shaun Edwards that half a dozen games should be enough for the artist formerly known as Gavin Church to waltz his way back into the Wales team (did you see what I did there?) after what will be an absence from the game of the best part of 2 years; or
- the suggestion by former Wales skipper Michael Owen that Wales should consider selecting the UK's 2nd worst ballroom dancer at number 8.
|Rough, tough number 8?|
Owen's suggestion is based, it seems, on the changing nature of the role of the number 8 which these days requires pace and footballing abilities as well as the more prosaic attributes of forward play.
Owen points to the likes of Pierre Spies and Sergio Parisse as examples of modern number 8s who display these qualities and predicts that that the Number 8 role will become very similar to the loose-forward role in Rugby League where the number 13 often acts as an extra play-maker.
So far the logic is impeccable...I've written before about the role of the number 8 and how about how it has evolved in recent years and it's true that modern number 8s are fast and dynamic - Spies and Parisse are good examples as are Kieran Read and Imanol Harinordiquy.
And then then the argument falls apart...
“If you are asking your No.8 to do so many things that a back normally does, then why not play a back there?" asks Owen.
Because, dear Michael, those footballing skills you so rightly admire in Messrs Spies and Parisse are in addition to, and are no substitute for, the hard-nosed graft required of a number 8 at close quarters. How many backs do you know who would be prepared to put in the type of brutal shift that Spies did, for instance, last week at Twickenham? Jamie Roberts? Possibly. Henson? Not a chance.
What next? Tell Martin Johnson to pick players with no handling skills in the centres to act as extra forwards?