MIKE BROWN: England’s tame show in Ireland dims the Lions ambitions of several faltering stars… Owen Farrell played his way out of the starting team and Jamie George and Ben Youngs may now be sweating
- There were few good performances in England’s 32-18 Six Nations loss in Ireland
- Several players planning to join the Lions squad may now have serious concerns
As a player, you would always know if someone like Warren Gatland is sat in the stands. You would either pick up on it in the media, or see his face pop up on the big screen during a break of play.
In the back of their minds, England’s players would have been desperate to impress Gatland in Dublin. Unfortunately, the performance did their chances more harm than good.
Before yesterday’s match, I had scribbled down a Lions XV that contained six England players. After last night’s match, it contained just three.
Few England players covered themselves in glory during the 32-18 Six Nations loss to Ireland
Several of them may have damaged their chances for the Lions as a result of the heavy defeat
Every rugby player loves to natter about a Lions XV during bus journeys and lunch breaks and, for me, Owen Farrell, Jamie George and Ben Youngs all played their way out of the starting team. I have little doubt that Farrell will make the overall squad, but George and Youngs may now be sweating.
Our strapline against Ireland was always ‘win the air, win the floor’. It was all about wining the aerial battle and the breakdown.
Yesterday, England won neither of those areas.
Andy Farrell’s selection was a masterstroke. He brought in his experienced guys who had been stuck on the sidelines and would have been really revved up.
Ben Youngs is one of the Lions hopefuls who could now be worried about his place in the squad
They all stepped up. Conor Murray showed that he is still a force, while Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw were huge together in the midfield. Great also to see veteran Keith Earls have another brilliant game.
It was interesting to hear Eddie talk about a transition phase after the match. I’m not sure if that was a hint that some guys have played their last game, but there definitely needs to be some new blood.
This summer’s tour could be a massive turning point. Younger guys normally come in to fill in for the Lions big dogs — although there may not be as many of those as Eddie had hoped for. I hope he takes guys like Tom de Glanville, Jack van Poortvliet and Marcus Smith.
In 2017, in Argentina, Tom Curry came as a young kid and Eddie got him to share a room with Dylan Hartley.
Eddie knew Curry was a big prospect so he used Dylan to find out what he’s like away from the pitch. How they prepare, how they hold themselves in meetings, how they fare in games.
For me, there’s not been any transition since the World Cup. Eddie still needs to figure out his best combinations.
I think he should give up on the idea of Elliot Daly being the first-choice full back. I was looking forward to seeing him at 13, but he’s clearly not an international 15. I think his best position is on the wing, but he’s played 50-plus Tests and hasn’t nailed down one spot.
He can cover centre, wing and full-back and he could fall into the James Hook trap of being Mr Utility on the bench.
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