I WAS able to sit down and watch England’s Six Nations opener against France with an analytical mind last weekend and, what struck me about this England side was that I can see character.
They are obviously playing for the coaches and for the jersey, you can see that in the fact that they came from 16-3 down to lead the game until the final few moments.
You would love to see how this side will get on when they actually make a good start to a match.
The bad starts have been a regular theme in recent matches against Australia, New Zealand and now France.
In the end, give the way they turned the game around, they were unlucky to lose it.
Stuart Lancaster’s substitutions have come under scrutiny this week and, certainly with some of them, there are questions.
I know they have all sorts of GPS technology to show the state of players, but why was scrum-half Danny Care taken off when he didn’t see to be flagging?
However, bringing on Ben Morgan in place of Billy Vunipola is something that would always happen because they effectively do the same job and you can repeat the dose, so I had no issue with that.
How this weekend’s match against Scotland goes may be determined by the weather.
Scotland have a pack equipped to cause problems, but I believe this group of England players are ready to deal with that.
I’ll be at Murrayfield and I fully expect a battle, but expect England to come through by six to nine points.
In many ways, the big game this weekend is in Dublin, what with all the talk surrounding Warren Gatland, Brian O’Driscoll and ‘that’ Lions’ selection.
I don’t expect the players to get involved with that, but I can see Ireland trying to play at the pace Wales did when they beat England last season and can see them coming through.
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