England’s Back Row
England's back-row balance has caused debate and arguments across the country with understandably No 7 Chris Robshaw baring most of the brunt.
The England skipper has reportedly met with new England coach Eddie Jones, who in the past described him as a 'six-and-a-half at best' but it remains to be seen if Robshaw has a place in the England squad. The call for an England No 7 in the mould of a Richie McCaw or Michael Hooper has been long and loud with the name Steffon Armitage being touted as the saviour of England.
However the RFU, failing to learn the lesson set by Australia are standing firm on their Isolationist overseas player policy and the Toulon flanker will have to play in the Premiership if he wants to be considered. Will Greenwood for one believes there are plenty of players who can fulfil the No 7 role for England as well as thinking that Robshaw can remain in the England squad.
Luke Wallace’s breakdown work is good. He resembles a little bit of Michael Hooper. He is also a pretty explosive ball carrier but most importantly, in and around the breakdown, he is outstanding. At the moment ignoring Wasps George Smith as being ineligible, there is a claim for Luke Wallace to be considered the outstanding No 7 in the country.
Will Fraser had a good game for Saracens in front of Eddie Jones against the Falcons but Wallace ticks a hell of a lot of boxes: quick, pacey, dynamic, gets in over the ball and has soft hands.
Jamie Gibson has been excellent for Saints this season. Although as Greenwood says England have plenty of strength in depth for the No 6 jersey and believes that Robshaw is possibly one of the contenders.
Robshaw is going pretty well but it is pointedly interesting that Conor O'Shea at Quins, despite all his now somewhat discredited protestations last season to the contrary, has stuck him in the No 6 jersey, which additionally just serves to further undermine Stuart Lancaster's credibility. So it looks like Wallace and Jack Clifford will be the No 7s for Harlequins this season.
So for England at 6 you have the options of James Haskell, Tom Wood, Jamie Gibson, and Robshaw - that is a really strong area.
If you go on pure current form, then England's back-row would have James Haskell in at No 6 - Billy Vunipola would be in at No 8 and Wallace at No 7.
Like father like son? The only area that Greenwood has a slight concern over is No 8.
Josh Beaumont is on a charge for Sale Sharks. Number 8 is a bit of a worry behind Billy - Ben Morgan did not make the Gloucester starting line-up and Nathan Hughes only qualifies next June. So we hope Billy stays fit and healthy because we don't want to lose him in the No 8 jersey.
So pending Nathan Hughes arrival, a back-up for Billy is Josh Beaumont. He's got pace, has scored some great tries and is a great lineout man. I think Josh Beaumont has gone beyond Morgan now. It is unfortunate that post that leg injury, Morgan just hasn't quite found his dynamic best.
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