Friday, December 25, 2009

State of the Nation: England

There is an ongoing sense of déjà vu filtering out of Twickenham every time a disappointing return from series fixtures is completed.

One lonely Matt Banahan try in 240 autumn international minutes is clearly not the form of a side that has reportedly had bucket loads of money invested in it - and that has subsequently left many supporters wanting answers, right now.

Where the source of the problem lies remains unclear but - sorry to bring this up - England it seems is still light years away from the crop of 2003.

Martin Johnson will be given more and more time by the Rugby Football Union to get the wheels in motion but one suspects that a poor Six Nations could leave 'the suits' with no other option than to cut their losses. Ian McGeechan anyone? Some would think not so due to his Scottish nationality but if Andy Robinson can go one way then why can the white rose not complete the return leg?

England Rugby Team also desperately missed the impact that British & Irish Lions centre Riki Flutey brings to a lateral back-line and his combination with either Mathew Tait or Dan Hipkiss would bring so much more attacking prowess to the group.

They do possess the talent in the Guinness Premiership and now Top 14 so the blame has to be laid at the door at those above, doesn't it? Well maybe we're all being slightly harsh, as injuries can be one factor that can cushion the losses. England lined up against the Wallabies in their opening game of November missing ten of the team which had started their last Six Nations outing.

"Injuries are becoming an increasing concern within the game at large," said Elite Rugby Director, Rob Andrew.

"In the autumn we were operating with 40 per cent of both the senior and Saxons squads being injured. That is unsustainable as far as the game is concerned long-term."

In conclusion there is much work to be done ahead of Six Nations 2010 but with another couple of months familiarity and feedback, England Rugby Team cannot be underestimated, especially if they can beat Wales Rugby Team at Twickenham on February 6.

Star man: Alongside the form of Mark Cueto, flank Lewis Moody was a cut above for England thanks to his usual hard-graft and zest throughout November. His combination with Tom Croft and either Jordan Crane, Nick Easter or James Haskell could now blossom during the upcoming Six Nations.

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