Kyran Bracken: Stuart Lancaster's pick of Owen Farrell and Sam Burgess is no surprise considering Wales' strengths

Kyran Bracken
Follow Kyran
Owen Farrell and Sam Burgess will line up for England at Twickenham (Source: Getty)
I’m not surprised that Stuart Lancaster has gone with Owen Farrell and Sam Burgess at 10 and 12 for England against Wales this Saturday.
The most important thing for this match is to have a very, very strong defensive line. Wales will want to get over the gainline and those two probably won’t let them.
From what Burgess has done when he's come on, he has made an impact. Yes, there are question marks regarding the breakdown and his knowledge of the rules – and of course you can’t afford to get on the wrong side of those fine margins. But I think his presence, ball-carrying and ability to offload will end up being very important, especially against Wales.
This is horses for courses. George Ford wasn’t at his best on Friday and Farrell played well so deserves a chance. Having said that, England have played very well with Ford directing things so I wouldn’t be surprised if Farrell comes in for this one and Ford is put back at No10 for Australia.
Wales will be without a number of key players on Saturday, but sometimes an injury crisis like this can galvanise the team. Instead of thinking and worrying about it, it means that everyone knows they’ve got to play out of their skin. Players coming in need to add to the role and be a real positive. Warren Gatland is too long in the tooth to let it get the better of him or his squad. He’ll get everyone in the right frame of mind for the match and I don’t think it will matter that three or four people will come in.
Wales are coming to Twickenham to do a smash and grab and take the points so England know it’s going to be a different level to their opening win against Fiji.
England will need to improve their scrums and at the lineout. The scrum is certainly a concern. It was creaking against Fiji at times and certainly was against the Irish and the French in the pre-World Cup warm- up games.
If they don’t get the scrum right then there will be trouble because, as we’ve seen so far at this World Cup, a lot of scrums going backwards get penalised. My guess is that first and foremost Graham Rowntree will want to get the scrum right and I’m sure they’ll have practiced a lot on that.
But as things stand, Lancaster’s men will just edge it with their forward pack dominance. I think England are going to win. Just.
Kyran Bracken is one of the player legends appearing at the London Pride Clubhouse, 4 Moorgate, and will be the final host at the stylish rugby watching venue. The Clubhouse is open every weekend until the end of October. For more details:

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

Related articles