What is the most thrilling aspect of the new England? The style of play they will adopt, according to Ugo Monye.
Occasionally, it’s the little moments during Test week that really stick with you. One particularly impressive moment from the England camp recently was when Jamie George encouraged his teammates at the end of training to not fear making mistakes. This is just one reason why I am so excited for this new-look England team.
This is a reason for enthusiasm because it indicates that players are experimenting with different techniques during training. Whether it’s a risky pass, an additional pass, or simply reacting more instinctively. The common belief is that England has been too cautious and inflexible in their attacking strategy recently. However, hearing Jamie’s message to the team gives me hope that we will witness some of their offensive capabilities.
The team selected appears to be focused on speed. With Manu Tuilagi and Ollie Lawrence absent, there may be a lack of force in the backline, which could be a concern against other teams. However, England’s coaching staff is intelligent enough to develop a game plan that caters to their players. It’s unrealistic to expect them to be flawless in the first week, but I am more interested in their intentions. Hopefully, they will aim to utilize open space more effectively. This could involve utilizing kicking strategies, as it is a key aspect of their style, but I would also like to see them take more risks and play with a sense of freedom within their established structures to reach their full potential.
There are various forms of anticipation. These include the addition of five new players, the introduction of new team members, and the potential for success and growth within their careers. This all depends on the team’s roster and selection process. Personally, I am most excited about England’s style of play. The weather in Rome is 18 degrees Celsius, making it the perfect setting for England’s first match against Italy, who placed last in the previous tournament. Their second match against Wales, who placed fifth, is also advantageous as the tournament heavily relies on momentum.
England has faced challenges this week with Marcus Smith being unable to play and Alex Mitchell missing training for most of the time. Smith has been performing exceptionally well for Harlequins, showing his best form yet. He not only offers moments of brilliance, but also displays great control and management skills. He has grown and developed since his experience at the World Cup. It’s unfortunate for him and for Steve Borthwick, as Smith would likely have been their top choice for this competition.
With that being said, we are fortunate to have Fin Smith and the seasoned experience of George Ford. According to reports, Fin Smith joined the team during the previous Six Nations and impressed with his training efforts. Anyone who saw him play at Thomond Park against Munster would have noticed his composure and impressive skill set. I am eagerly anticipating seeing him come off the bench. Another debutant to keep an eye on is Ethan Roots – he is a strong and powerful player, and I am curious to see the kind of physicality he can bring to the field. And let’s not forget about Immanuel Feyi-Waboso coming off the bench as well. If Italy starts to tire in the final 20 minutes, he could make a huge impact.
I am delighted to hear that the England players have expressed how quickly they have bonded and united at the beginning of this campaign, as it has been a recurring issue for them in the past. Their first Six Nations match has resulted in a loss for the past four years, putting added pressure on them to catch up in the following rounds. However, the fact that many of them spent five months together in camp last year has likely contributed greatly to their cohesiveness. While this is true for all six nations, it could hold particular significance for England, who have struggled to transition from club to country compared to others.
However, Italy will have confidence in their abilities in the first week of the game. I think there is added pressure on Italy to secure a victory in the Six Nations tournament. They were unlucky last year, narrowly losing to France, Scotland, and Wales. Yet, with the World Cup in mind, teams like Portugal and others outside the top 10 rankings have demonstrated that there is talent beyond the top teams.
If Italy does not perform well in the Six Nations, the pressure will likely intensify. It seems like another significant challenge for them, but I am eager to see how they will fare with a new coaching team.