Irish rugby fans: warm yourself on this chilly day with news of the deep flaws assailing England and Eddie Jones. Having been mugged at Murrayfield, there has been a bit of revisionism regarding Jones' tenure, with the opening shots of flak already coming from Fleet Street.
While Jones will now face the kind of knee-jerk hysteria that the English press have turned into an artform, some more level-headed critics have picked out problems in this English team. Shane Horgan wrote in the last weekend's Sunday Times that England have stagnated, if not gone backward, in the last year under Jones. More practically, Horgan accentuated issues around the make-up of England's back-row.
Speaking to Balls on the Six Nations Takeaway, Eddie O'Sullivan pinpointed two major problems for England, one of which is their back-row. Another, O'Sullivan reckons, is in midfield, and is perhaps an even bigger issue...
They have two major problems. One is that they don't have a back row. With Billy Vunipola out, they don't know what's going on. They don't have a 7. Eddie Jones castigated Stuart Lancaster for playing Chris Robshaw at 7. Who was playing 7 last Saturday? [Spoiler: it was Robshaw].
With Vunipola, the back row is all over the place. But that's not their biggest problem. Their biggest problem is in the midfield: they don't know who is in their best midfield. They have George Ford at 10; Owen Farrell at 12. I think Owen Farrell is at 12 because they don't have anyone else to play there, especially with Tuilagi out.
The outside-centre partnership is a complete adventure, he doesn't know where to go there. Jonathan Joseph played there last weekend, and Ben Te'o came off the bench. Neither of them are international outside-centres. End of. No way. I think Te'o is more of a 12 than 13, and defensively he struggles in that area. He's a fantastic ball-carrier, he's very powerful, but he's not a 13. That whole midfield structure is a problem for him.
This is their third season under Eddie Jones, and he still hasn't fixed them.
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