Tuesday, 12 June 2012

England Vs Exiles

They say that when Orson Welles started a project, he would hire one extra crew member, and then fire them in the first week of filming to demonstrate his authority to the others.
One wonders if something similar was going through Steve McNamara's mind all those months ago when he left Ryan Atkins out of his Elite Training Squad. Atkins might not be everyone's cup of tea at centre, but his form was fairly undenyable.
Now,  few months on, his (and Danny Tickle's) inclusion in the England Squad has shown players that they shouldn't lose hope of achieving international honours and, if they can mantain form, will always have a chance.

The England squad looks OK, doesn't it? We've not got a bad set of lads and I'm sure we'll have the Exiles worried. There is a couple of eyebrow raisers, mainly the inclusion of a whopping 6 players from a much maligned Leeds Rhinos squad.
Jamie Peacock, fresh from a tweeting match with Gary Schofield, will captain the side.
Leeds have shipped a lot of points over the past few weeks and have suffered convincing defeats to Wigan, Saints and Wire - all of whom have fewer players than the Rhinos. This is especially head scratching when Wigan are currently flying head and shoulders above the rest of superleague with a raft of British players pulling up trees for them.
Peacock himself should count himself pretty lucky he hasn't been displaced by the likes of Chris Hill and Louis M-Scarsbrick who are growing in stature, or Andy Lynch, who seems to have transferred his metronomic go forward from Bradford to Hull. Adrian Morley's omission suggests some intent to move forward, but only so far it seems.

Our failure at international level grates on me as much as anyone and my opinion is that until we can compete physically, we'll never compete on the scoreboard. So, when selecting my squad, bashing seven bells out of the opposition is my main objective. So the selection Rob Burrow and Luke Robinson, presumabley as hookers rather than halfbacks, isn't really down my street, not when you've got Danny Houghton in the reserve squad and Michael McIlorum left to one side completely.

Come the end of the season, we'll have James Graham, Sam Burgess and Gareth Ellis to swell our forward ranks as almost automatic choices & I wouldn't personally look further than Roby for the hooker shirt.
The trio of Wigan forwards, Mossop, Hock and O'Loughlin excite me and I think combined with the players above and the bull headed Ben Westwood, we're only a couple of choice picks away from a forward pack that can genuinely take the game to the best international opposition.

The inclusion of Danny Brough is interesting. A half back with an organising and kicking game should mean that the almost automatic choice of Kevin Sinfield, shoehorned in wherever we can fit him, should be a thing of the past.
If Brough is given the seven shirt, you'd think that the maverick charms of Rangi Chase will find their way to the 6. Let's see if he can work his magic on this stage. If Brough takes to it and Rangi not, you could swap in someone like Lomax for the next game to add a running element to the halves.

The 3/4s don't concern me greatly, we've a few good options, and peoples favourites probably co-incide with who you've had the chance to see more of, but until out forwards are demolishing their Exile opposites to such a degree that the backs can be accused of holding us back, it a bit like complaining about the colour of the icing on a cake before you've baked it.

Good luck England. Go get'em.

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