Australia Series – Daly Confident he can do an inside job for England
Few would doubt that Wasps centre Elliot Daly already possesses a wide range of on-field skills. His boss Dai Young, his teammates and Wasps' fans have long admired his eye for a gap, electric pace, accurate distribution and reliable defence.
More recently, England's new boss Eddie Jones has been added to the Daly fan club during a season when the 23-year-old won his first cap as part of the Grand Slam winning line-up. One of the key factors in Daly making England's bench during the Six Nations was his flexibility to cover a range of positions including inside centre, and the likeable Croydon-born midfielder admits this has required him to quickly learn new skills.
"Playing at No.12 is definitely something I'd like to look at in the future," says Daly, who replaced Jonathan Joseph for the final 15 minutes of England's 27-13 Twickenham win against Wales at the weekend. "I have always been pigeon-holed as an outside centre or full back, but now I think I've shown I can play at inside centre as well.
"That's a good thing, as it increases your flexibility as a player, and by playing there a little I have learned what you need to do to give space to the No.13. When I'm back at outside centre, this then also helps me to know what the No.12 is looking to do. "I had always thought I would be able to play at 12, but with the personnel we've had at the club and when I've played for the Saxons, I've always fallen into the No.13 shirt."
Since the end of the Six Nations, Daly has spent brief periods at inside centre for his club, usually in the latter stages of matches following reorganisation following injury and has looked entirely comfortable there.
Another part of his game to which the same description can be applied is goal-kicking, and it was interesting to note that the England centre finished the Premiership season with a record that showed 13 successful kicks from 20 attempts. At first glance this appears a little on the low side, since top kickers' strike rates exceed 80 per cent, but since Daly is only thrown the kicking tee from in excess of 45 metres, it is actually extremely impressive.
When told that his success rate was three per cent higher than that of returning prodigal Danny Cipriani, whose status as Sale's main kicker included a good number of much simpler kicks, a smile briefly crosses Daly's face. However, the professional facade is quickly resumed as he assesses his performances with the boot. "I think 65 per cent is a little low, and I would like to improve it," he says.
"It is something I have been working on, and I've taken probably three times the amount of kicks this year compared with past years. "It feels like I have got some of the harder ones and missed the easier ones, so I need to have a look at that and work with the kicking coach to get as many as possible.
It's good to add to a team as much you can, so if taking long-range kicks is my role then I'll work on it and hopefully kick a few goals in the course of the season and see where it takes me. "The more you can do in a game the better, and the more skills I can juggle will hopefully hold me in good stead."