Please Johno, No Borthwick!

12 01 2010

With England announcing their 32 man elite squad tomorrow it will be interesting to see in which direction Martin Johnson goes. There have been rumours of a more free flowing approach emanating from the England camp although it is unlikely that they will ‘throw caution to the wind’ as Sky Sports optimistically put it.

Key to England’s progress is a demonstration of a clear game plan and intent to attack when possible. Under Johnson, despite one bright spot against France at the tail end of last years 6 Nations, England have reverted to a heavily set piece laden game and have seemingly lost the ability to play what is front of them. Bizarrely though, the one set piece move that seemed to work last season (dummy runners in mid field with the blind side wing coming through the 12 channel creating a 2 on 1 with the full back) was not used once in the Autumn.

A major piece of the puzzle has returned from injury in the shape of Riki Flutey. Most of you reading this site will be familiar with the Compulsive Hookers love of Jonny Wilkinson and our willingness to forgive the great man a dodgy Autumn series. When Jonny was performing so heroically in the early part of the decade he was marshalling a back line with either Mike Catt or Will Greenwood inside him. These guys were true inside centres and took some of the weight off Jonny’s shoulders. With Flutey slotting back into the side England at last have a centre who can stand comparison with those previous heavyweights. Flutey is a creative and elusive player which will benefit Jonny and hopefully the next few games will show both players back to their best.

In the eyes of the Compulsive Hooker, Matt Banahan does not cut it at international level not being dynamic enough. Johnson should probably have a look at rugby league convert Chris Ashton perhaps who has been in sparkling form for Northampton. With Armitage likely to return at full back suddenly the back line has an altogether more potent look about it. Tait and Foden are also worthy of a serious look on the international field.

In the forwards the Autumn problems are still fresh in the mind. Johnson needs to be brave and give youth its head in the form of Courtney Lawes and Dan Cole. Both are precocious talents and deserve an extended run in the team due to exceptional club form.

Finally and most importantly the most important contribution to make in England’s cause, would be the removal of Steve Borthwick as captain, player and squad member. Like Phil De Glanville in 1996 he is not worthy of his place and therefore should not be captain. Sadly Compulsive Hooker suspects that this epiphany is still some way off for Johnson.

Any thoughts on the above? Who would you pick?

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