Sometimes it is not a bad thing being without that target figure in the centres though, because it pretty much forces you to think differently about how you play.
England have not been pushed out of second or third gear really during this Autumn Nations Cup. Thanks to their kicking game and their defence, they’ve just not had to rely on their attack to score points.
You look at the squad for this game - and the fact there’s six forwards on the bench - and there’s a clear indication England are going to try to win it with their physicality. But for the development of the team, they are going to need to evolve their attack a bit.
Physically this game is going to be a big battle, so England need to have a couple of options and, given George Ford is back in the team, they can move the ball in a variety of ways. They are going to need to find different ways of beating teams.
At the moment the physical game is working, no one can compete with England. But next year during the Six Nations, perhaps the other teams will have figured out how to stop them? You can’t just rely on that physicality to win you games and ultimately the big prize - which is the World Cup in 2023.
England may eventually get matched by other teams when it comes to physicality, so they need to have more creativity and an attacking identity as well. If this was a normal autumn and we were playing Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, we know they’d have to score points. But England’s kicking game, and their defence, is putting pressure on the opposition and giving them try-scoring opportunities.
I expect to see that again, but there will come times in this game against Wales where it will break up and you’d like to see them shift the ball more than they have done this autumn. We want to see England move the point of attack, offload the ball, play at speed and show signs of an all-court game.
Having Ford gives them two playmakers. He will run the show and Owen Farrell can now step back a bit, becoming the fly-half’s eyes and ears. Owen can paint pictures for George, tell him what he is saying and what the options are.
George is just a bit more of a natural fly-half, he will challenge the line a little more and that can bring the rest of the backs into play. Owen and George can work in tandem together as first and second receivers, which should help England move the ball and try out a few more options.
Hopefully we will see a slightly more varied style of play.
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