London Sunday Times rugby writer Stephen Jones has accused England of down sizing under Andy Robinson and has urged the selectors to pick bigger players this season.
Jones said it was crucial that Mike Tindall be restored tot he midfield to deal with the threat of New Zealand and France. He doesn’t mention any threat from a South African midfield.
Jones also says the England pack has been depowered and those currently in the mix aren’t good enough to counter the best in the business. Here Bok lock Victor Matfield gets a mention.
Jones writes: “The shrinkage continues when you consider Robinsonâ€™s selections up front. He has rarely trusted the gigantic Andrew Sheridan. Still less often has he trusted the gigantic Simon Shaw. Watching Shaw playing for Wasps against Harlequins recently, driving mauls on, winning the lineout, passing dexterously and running delightfully, made you curse the dogma of those who have binned him.
“Robinsonâ€™s outweighed pack in Australia challenged orthodoxy to its limits, because they were lighter by a stone a man. It is worth mentioning that not all his big men were available. But the challenge is typified by a lighter player who did not tour â€” one of Robinsonâ€™s favourite players in Steve Borthwick, the lock. Borthwick, even with the best will in the world and the worst weighing scales, is nowhere remotely as big a man as Shaw, or as Borthwickâ€™s peers as jumpers around the world â€” Chris Jack of New Zealand, Victor Matfield of South Africa, Dan Vickerman of Australia and so on.
“England have become one of the smallest of the top teams in the world. There is potential to repower by drafting big forwards back from injury. Tindall must rediscover himself. But it is more than a trick of the treatment table. England are searching earnestly for another route to goal, for something to give them an extra edge when the match is tight. Yet in rugby, still, the shortest distance to the try-line is straight up the middle.”