From the little bit of rugby I’ve seen of the Premiership so far this season. Bath’s centre pairing of Kyle Eastmond and Jonathan Joseph have been in scintillating form. In- form at club level doesn’t always translate to success at international level. They are the in-form pair. That’s a point to note , is that they are a combination that works, already playing together week in week out. Both players have tasted test rugby and performed well.
A guy that I’m sure has been earmarked as one for the future is Henry Slade. Currently playing for the Exeter Chiefs, he represented England vs the Barbarians and has represented England at u-18 and u-20. He has played at fly-half , full-back and inside centre. Makes you think of guys like Kurtley Beale or James O’Connor who have played all three of those positions for their franchises and their Country. The Kiwi’s like using a fly-half at inside centre. Dan Carter first represented the All Blacks at inside centre ( second five-eighth) and turned out to be a spectacular fly-half once he won the position off of Carlos Spencer. Slade may not be Mr right now, but England do need to consider further than the RWC. With his versatility he may be a good squad member. Mike Catt was versatile and was a vital squad member in 2003 and now he is currently one of the coaching staff.
Manu Tuilagi is a player that demands attention. He is a destructive runner. Possessing both incredible upper body strength and legs of ridiculous strength. He is explosive with his running , quick , balanced and has a good centre of gravity. Doesn’t have much of a kicking game, who needs to when you can run like him. He lacks top end which was found out on the tour to New Zealand when he was playing on the wing and was run down by Ben Smith. I feel his best position is at 13, he is not creative enough to play 12 and lacks top end to play out on the wings. Discipline and fitting in , in defence are areas he may need to concentrate on.
Luther Burrel is the reason why Tuilagi got moved to the wing. Need I say much more. Burrel plays inside centre for Northampton Saints with George Pisi (Samoa) at outside centre. So there is an option of playing him at inside centre.
Billy Twelvetrees, his selection is bound to spark discussion. He has a good rugby brain and has that creative flair that could unlock even the tightest defence. The thing is with every good thing he does he seems to balance it with an equal and opposite bad thing. Centre is often regarded as the cousin of the open -side flanker , which at times is a dirty job that someone has to do. What I’m trying to say is Billy is too nice. To often his game seems flaky.
There are numerous other permutations like; trying Farrel at 12 and Cipriani at 10; Brad Barrit who would tackle a runaway train for the cause; Joel Tomkins.
I am very much against picking the bigger guy just because he is bigger . Lets face it if you are as fast as a smaller guy and just as skilful , you will be ahead in the selection stakes.
Lets look at the weight of some of the opposition.
Ma’a Nonu 106 kg (coming back from injury) Malakai Fekitoa 99kg Conrad Smith 95kg
Jean de Villiers 103 kg Jan Serfontein 97 kg
Matt Toomua 89 kg Tevita Kuridrani 102 kg
Alapati Leiua 98kg George Pisi 94 kg
now look at the weights of England players
Manu Tuilagi 112 kg Luther Burrel 109 kg Billy Twelvetrees 106 kg Jonathan Joseph 90 kg Kyle Eastmond 83 kg Henry Slade 87 kg
Brad Barrit 100kg Joel Tomkins 103 kg Owen Farrel 96 kg