Wales legend Jonathan Davies believes England will be limited on attack with Andy Goode at flyhalf.
England attack coach Brian Ashton yesterday lamented the lack of attacking threat his side have posed in the last two Tests and Davies, who represented Wales on 32 occasions, said that situation would not be remedied with Goode in the No 10 shirt.
“Andy isn’t a running fly-half,” the former flyhalf told BBC Sport. “He’s going to kick, and that cuts down England’s options.
“He’ll get you in the right positions, but the attacking threat is weaker.”
Goode replaced Charlie Hogson in the first Test and immediately showed that he posed far more of a threat off his boot than he did running at the defence. Coach Andy Robinson though praised the Leicester man’s performance and rewarded him with only his third start at Test level despite having eight caps.
“Andy is a tremendous goal-kicker and a superb kicker out of hand, but it will be easier for South Africa to defend. They won’t expect him to run.” Davies said of Goode, who is one of a few players who have scored 1000 points in the Premiership.
“His goal-kick percentage will be high and he needs to show authority and run the game. If he can play like he does at Leicester then he will do well.
“That’s the problem Charlie has had with England – he hasn’t really brought his Sale form to the international stage.
Davies said Goode’s limitations would place more pressure on his backline who, with the exception of Josh Lewsey, has failed to impress in recent weeks.
“Andy isn’t such an attacking option as Hodgson so maybe there will be more emphasis now put on the centres and the full-back to play a wider game.
“It’s a big opportunity for Andy. He knows his strengths and he’s aware of his limitations. England should know that – but so will South Africa.
Many pundits expect England to revert to a territorial kicking game against the Springboks in light of Goode’s attacking deficiencies and Davies echoed those sentiments.
“It’s a case of playing a style of game that the players you have on the pitch are comfortable with,” Davies added.
“You can’t have a situation where the coach has a style of rugby that he wants but that the players he has picked can’t play.
“That’s what happened with Scotland a couple of years ago under Matt Williams. The game-plan may have to change.”
He cited the high percentage of foreign flyhalves playing in the Premiership as a contributing factor to England’s lack of depth in the position.
“If you go through the Premiership clubs, there aren’t many English fly-halves playing,” he said. I think it’s part of the problem. England don’t have much strength in depth in that position.
“With Hodgson and Wilkinson injured, you have to go with Andy because there’s basically no-one else sticking his hand up in this crucial position.”