World Cup-winning aoch Sir Clive Woodward has slammed Eddie Jones’ England team to play France in a fiery article.
“If this goes badly wrong — and I reckon there is about a 10 per cent chance of it coming off gloriously and a 90 per cent chance of it backfiring horribly — Jones will be very exposed indeed after a tournament in which he has constantly tampered with the outside backs and mystified with some of his selections,” wrote Woodward in his column for the Mail Online.
“Steward is brilliant under the high ball — certainly in defence — and we will now see if that translates to chasing and taking the ball when his own team kick, which is a slightly different skill.
“To that end, box-kicking king Ben Youngs is in for Harry Randall, although Youngs can have games when his box kicks aren’t always accurate. He cannot afford an off-night tomorrow. So England chase, Steward jumps high to win the aerial battle and England wreak havoc on a panicky France defence.
“There is a kernel of an idea there, but it’s the wrong mindset once again. I’m just shaking my head. The selection comes at a cost. George Furbank is competent at Premiership level but I have seen nothing to suggest he is a Test full-back.
“I sincerely hope I’m wrong. Equally, I have seen nothing to suggest Steward is a Test wing — I wonder if he has ever even started there. I like Steward defensively but I have concerns about his attacking prowess and pace. Now, England have put him out wide where he needs even more gas.
“Elsewhere, I am mystified that Courtney Lawes has again been asked to start at six when his move to lock against Ireland improved the scrum. I’d have gone with Sam Simmonds at six and Alex Dombrandt at No 8.
“For me, it’s another big risk but Eddie seems to be in that kind of mood and I would love to know if there is anybody in the higher echelons of the RFU willing to put their hands up before kick-off and insist they agree with Eddie’s punt. It seems a crazy selection to me. “
Round five fixtures: Saturday 19 March
- Wales vs. Italy (2.15pm; Principality Stadium, Cardiff; BBC/S4C)
- Ireland vs. Scotland (4.45pm; Aviva Stadium, Dublin; ITV)
- France vs. England (8pm; Stade de France, Paris; ITV)
Table after round four
When is France v England?
Saturday, March 19.
What time is kick-off?
What TV channel is France v England on?
The match at the Stade de France will be on ITV.
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England next head coach odds (Oddschecker)
#5. Andy Farrell – 22/1
The irony with Farrell is that he is arguably the most obvious candidate and fits the role as well as anyone, but he might be the toughest for the RFU to land due to his long-term deal with Ireland.
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