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Crafting a Strong England XV to Challenge Ireland in Six Nations Showdown
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Crafting a Strong England XV to Challenge Ireland in Six Nations Showdown


Some weeks, the process of choosing becomes more focused on psychology rather than facts and figures. Temporarily set aside the data and instead think about which players the opposing team would find most intimidating. How can you boost your own team’s morale and reduce any negative feelings? And by doing this, how can you also generate a wave of excitement among your fans when they see the roster?

As we approach the second-to-last weekend of the Six Nations, it’s important for England to regroup and plan their next moves. Their upcoming matches against Ireland and France require a shift in strategy, especially with the challenges facing the French team. Twickenham needs a change in attitude and approach if England wants to achieve success. Merely maintaining their current tactics will not suffice.

Farewell to negative thinking and pessimism. Let’s move on from gloomy predictions and uncomfortable bookmaker odds. Scotland, Murrayfield, and Ireland’s undefeated record should not be our focus. The only thing that is important at this moment is the upcoming task for Steve Borthwick and his team. And, if possible, bringing back the confident spirit of Twickenham.

Let’s start with the blindingly obvious. Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of English rugby – and, yes, it remains a crowded field – is the inability to stitch together a more uplifting whole from the various available parts. Sometimes you wonder what might happen if minds were somehow less cluttered and every match was treated like a sudden-death occasion. Perform now or forever hold your peace.

Who would you choose to be your scrummaging player this weekend? Currently, for England, the answer remains Joe Marler and Dan Cole, accompanied by Jamie George in the front row. These players are expected to perform well against Ireland in their home game. It’s important to focus on the present rather than an uncertain future.

Yes, Ireland certainly have a strong roster in the second row with rising stars Joe McCarthy and Tadhg Beirne potentially forming a powerful starting duo for the Test Lions. However, can we truly say that England is not a contender when it comes to the scrum and lineout? Is it fair to say that Maro Itoje is no longer a valuable asset or that the impressive size of George Martin is not a significant factor? Perhaps that is the approach that coach Borthwick will take in his team talk.

Moving Ollie Chessum to the weak side of the scrum provides England with an additional tall player for lineout options, which could be advantageous in areas where Ireland struggled against Wales. This leads us to the key components of the back row, half-backs, and midfield. It has been a consistent concern for England, with the positions of numbers 7 to 13 causing continual worry. The team has struggled to find the perfect balance, often faced with injured players at crucial times resulting in inconsistent performances.

If Tom Curry is not available, who would the Irish back row prefer not to face? In the autumn nations championship of 2020, England made an impressive 246 tackles, with only nine being missed, to counteract Ireland’s higher territorial and possession statistics. Sam Underhill played a significant role in that game and has the potential to do so again.

No. 8 is still available. It would be beneficial to bring on Alfie Barbeary or another driven player like Zach Mercer, but unfortunately they are not part of the larger team. However, England’s Ben Earl proved to be crucial in their first try against Scotland with his quick play, and his small celebrations have irritated Ireland in the past. Choosing him again and directing him to outplay the talented Caelan Doris could lead to interesting results.

England’s backline will need a boost of physical power and creativity. The inclusion of Alex Mitchell and Marcus Smith in the squad suggests they are both fit to play. If this is the case, they will join Manu Tuilagi in the starting lineup, as none of them played in the previous game against Scotland. Their presence will enable them to actively challenge their opponents.

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Marcus Smith trains with England

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The remaining factor comes down to finding equilibrium. While Henry Slade did not excel at the number 13 position in Scotland, his strong partnership with Tuilagi allows for an additional option with Slade’s powerful left foot. This relieves the reliance on Elliot Daly’s adaptability and opens up opportunities for the promising Manny Feyi-Waboso.

Who is more likely to create the opportunist tries scored by Duhan van der Merwe at Murrayfield: Feyi-Waboso or Daly? It’s time to give the former a chance against Calvin Nash and bring in Tommy Freeman to challenge James Lowe. As for full-back, it doesn’t make sense to choose George Furbank only to get rid of him right away.

In his prime, Furbank has the potential to be just as versatile and influential as Hugo Keenan is for Ireland. He will actively play against Ireland instead of passively waiting for them to make errors. Based on past events, it is unlikely that there will be many mistakes made by the visiting team.

Chandler Cunningham-South is very close to starting on the bench. Luke Cowan-Dickie and Ellis Genge could potentially be a strong fit against the opposing team. If Danny Care makes his 100th cap appearance, it would definitely energize the home crowd. They may not be strong enough to beat the favorites in the Six Nations, but at least Twickenham could host an exciting and competitive match.

Source: theguardian.com