Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

England Team Has Lots of Six Appeal; Journallive.Co.UK Rugby Union Thursday, February 56 UTTLEY ON RUGBY with ROGER UTTLEY

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

England Team Has Lots of Six Appeal; Journallive.Co.UK Rugby Union Thursday, February 56 UTTLEY ON RUGBY with ROGER UTTLEY

Article excerpt

Byline: ROGER UTTLEY

THE Six Nations kicked off in style last weekend, all three games showcasing the best qualities of the tournament and setting it up nicely for this weekend's second helping.

Big crowds in Cardiff, London and Rome were rewarded by games to match and from the English perspective they achieved what they set out to do against Scotland.

Normally in the opening round of the tournament you expect teams to be all over the shop and we have seen dire games in the Calcutta Cup in recent years, but for this latest contest the quality was outstanding.

England were able to drive on from where they left off in the autumn, which was always the big question, but I felt they managed it really well.

The selection of Billy Twelvetrees came off and that has only added to the firepower England are now able to develop in their squad.

With Manu Tuilagi available for Sunday's trip to Ireland the question now is how the midfield should shape up.

For my money you still need a playmaker in there and it would be difficult to leave out Twelvetrees after the debut he had.

You could make a case for bringing Tuilagi in for Brad Barritt, which would be hard on him, but I would like to see him introduced from the bench as an impact player in the last quarter.

How you select and use your replacements is becoming an increasingly important aspect of the international game now.

If you have players of the quality of Tuilagi, James Haskell, Toby Flood and the like then it puts you in a very strong position.

Another selection issue is at hooker where Dylan Hartley could come back into things but, as I have said before, I rate Tom Youngs and feel he is well worth his place on form.

He has done nothing wrong other than perhaps conceding two penalties.

However, if that is going to be your rationale for leaving him out then it would be hard to make the case for Hartley given his own disciplinary record.

The pace Youngs brings to the game gives England a different edge altogether and that is important when combined with the quality off-loading game they are looking to bring.

This is the style quality sides aspire to play. There are times when the ball has to be taken into contact, the key is knowing when to do that and when to get it off to your supporting players.

An offloading game does not allow the defence as much chance to get organised, and that is what England are aiming for under Stuart Lancaster.

Playing front-foot ball with guys taking it at pace is so important and players like Youngs are valuable with that in mind.

His front-row colleague Joe Marler was back in shape doing a good job, and Saturday's was a performance I really enjoyed.

Twickenham was a great place to be on Saturday and provided a good rugby contest with Scotland never giving up. …

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