World Cup winner Jason Robinson believes Elliot Daly is better suited to playing at centre rather than his current position on England’s wing despite his try-scoring exploits against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.
Wasps utility back Daly has been retained in Eddie Jones’s 25-man squad for the final clash of the autumn series against Samoa this weekend and is in contention to again take his place on the flank.
The 25-year-old, who tends to be deployed at centre by Wasps, was also used out wide by British and Irish Lions boss Warren Gatland during the summer’s tour of New Zealand. Robinson, however, is yet to be convinced.
“I still don’t see Elliot Daly as a winger even though he has come in and done a fantastic job,” Robinson, who was speaking on behalf of Land Rover at the annual HITZ Awards, told City A.M.
“I certainly rate him as a player. He has taken his opportunity on the wing when he has been playing at centre more and he has gone on the Lions tour and done some good stuff there.
“He has also scored tries for England from the wing but I still don’t see him as a winger. Every time his name comes up, I just don’t see it. But that’s not to take anything away from him.
“He’s been one of England’s most consistent performers, but when you look at [Anthony] Watson or [Jonny] May, you see that pace and footwork and it’s more suited to being on the wing, whereas Daly is more suited to being in the centre.”
Experienced campaigner Mike Brown is set to reclaim the No15 jersey against Samoa after he missed the Australia clash due to concussion, while Anthony Watson, his deputy against the Wallabies, has been omitted from the squad.
England head coach Eddie Jones has talked up the ferocious pace offered by Watson, who he described as a “Maserati”, Jonny May and Daly in a back three, and Robinson believes an intriguing battle has emerged for the full-back slot.
“We are blessed in that area,” added Robinson. “We have Mike Brown who is Mr Dependable. He has been a rock for England but one of the key differences now is ball in hand. Anthony Watson going forward with the ball is more of an exciting player.
“With ball in hand I would definitely say Watson would be the biggest threat to any team. His footwork and speed are very good and the more he plays in that position, the more dangerous he will be.
“But we’re in a good place with Browny there. It’s not just his playing ability but the mentality he has. Lots of players see him as a key leader on the field.”
The Pacific Islanders enter Saturday’s clash against the backdrop of a dispute between the Samoa Rugby Union, who earlier this month declared themselves bankrupt, and World Rugby, who dispute the claim. Irrespective of Samoa’s potential distractions, Robinson wants a near-perfect showing from England.
He said: “Every game England play is a step closer to the World Cup. There are not that many games to go. As a player, you want the ultimate performance and Eddie has shown a lot of frustration as he wants the ultimate performance as well.”
Jason Robinson is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover is a key partner of HITZ, the sport for change programme. @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal