Advantages Good Strong Base, WORLD CHAMPIONS!!
Disadvantages No Johnson, Negative Image, Injury List
|Are they fun to watch?|
So there it was. As the ball sailed through the posts on that wet Australian night in November, we all knew what had just happened, as did Jonny Wilkinson and Will Greenwood as they leapt in the air and hugged each other....England were World Champions, the last few seconds didn't matter, England could hold out. I remember the feeling as everyone at my rugby club went mad, first at the sight of the drop goal, then the final whistle and then as Englands greatest captain lifted the Webb Ellis Trophy above his head, pure elation!Looking back on that night now though it needs to be looked at in perspective, the final was possibly one of the greatest contests ever seen on a rugby field, and the game against Wales was a great spectacle, but we, England, hardly set the World on fire with a stunning style of creative running rugby, though its hardly surprising.
I didn't agree with all of Woodwards decisions when he picked the World Cup squad, but i could see what he was doing and in some ways i admire him for doing it. Woodward picked a team with one sole purpose, to WIN the World Cup, not to play well, entertain the crowds, and maybe win it, just to win it. And they did.So England now are World Champions, and will be for the next four years. Now it is time to use this base to mould the England team into a side that will be a joy to watch, one that will make the other nations look on in admiration not resentment, and a team who's style of play will draw new supporters and players to the game. It won't take that much to do it either, but it has to start now.
I have to admit that doing this would have been easier if Woodward still had his main man to depend on, to control the team, but Martin Johnson has made his decision and that is that, though England has lost one of the greatest players and captains to walk on to a rugby field in any team, and possibly any sport. As a player and captain, Johnson won everything, he has a at least one winners medal for each of the different competitions he has ever competed in at senior level; the Heineken Cup, the World Cup, Lions 1997 South Africa Tour, 6 Nations Grand Slam, The Zurich Premiership. You get the impression if Johnson played in the Super 12's he'd win that as well...but it is time to move on.So who should replace him? My vote is Lawrence Dallaglio, captain of one of the best club sides in Europe and a man with a list of winners medals almost as impressive as Johnson's. It would be something of sweet justice for Dallaglio as he lost the captaincy to Johnson after being set up in a drugs scandal by the News of the World, and i feel that it would finally put a lid on this episode to return the captaincy to Dallaglio.
Now thats dealt, with my opinion of what the squad should be for this years 6 Nations is as follows:Front Row - Jason Leonard, Phil Vickery, Julian White, Trevor Woodman, Steve Thompson, Mark Regan
Locks - Ben Kay, Steve Borthwick, Danny Grewcock, Simon Shaw.
With Johnson gone the no 4 shirt is gonna be hard to feel but i think Steve Borthwick, along with the other three who are established England regulars, Steve Borthwick is the form player and the man for the future and this would give Kay and himself the chance to establish a partnership for the world cup in 07 as i doubt Shaw or Grewcock will still be around.
Srum Half - Andy Gomersall, Matt Dawson, Kyran Bracken
As much as i like Matt Dawson, he is a forwards scrum half, and though he may be the best in the World at this, i feel to move England in the right direction Andy Gomersall should be given the nod. He has a fast accurate pass which would be perfect to launch the back line. Finally i am loathe to add Kyran Bracken but with Healey seemingly off form there is no real other choice.\
Centres - Will Grenwood, Henry Paul, Ollie Smith, Simon Abbott
With Mike Tindall out, my starting pair would have to be WG and HP. This may seem harsh on Simon Abbott who seemed certain to replace Tindall, but the form Henry Paul is on he must be brought in, and he can also be used as a dependable back up kicker. Ollie Smith would, like Barkley be in for experience as he will almost certainly one day inherit the shirt from Will Greenwood.
Full Back - Josh Lewsey, Jason Robinson
A hard choice, and many people may not agree with me, but i would go for Josh Lewsey, saving Jason Robinson as an impact sub. Lewsey knows full back play better and has the better angles when joining the line, and just imagine the damage a fresh billy whizz could do to a tired defence in the last 30 minutes of a game.
1. Trevor Woodman
2. Steve Thompson
3. Phil Vickery
4. Steve Borthwick
5. Ben Kay
6. Richard Hill
7. Neil Back
8. Lawrence Dallaglio
9. Andy Gomersall
10. Jonny Wilkinson (Alex King if not fit)
11. Ben Cohen
12. Will Greenwood
13. Henry Paul
14. James Simpson Daniel
15. Josh Lewsey
This team i feel still holds the strength and power of the World cup winning team, but now has a more attacking creative edge to it.Woodward played it safe during the World Cup, but no as World Champions it is time for him to take a few more risks and select an England team that can truly set the World on fire.
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