W of England’s players have a particular point to prove against Samoa tomorrow, with Martin Johnson using the Test to experiment. Here are three men who’ll be out to impress.
As captain in place of the rested Lewis Moody, Nick has a vital role. Chiefly he must make sure England play with the same attitude that they did in last weekend’s win over Australia – one of the best games the national team have played in more than a decade.
They’ll have one eye on the South Africa match next week, but need to remain fully focused because Samoa have some very talented individuals, as their sevens teams show. England will also be wary of their tackling; the medical team will be on red alert.
Easter has become a talisman and was exceptional last week. Enthusiasm is key: the Australia win bred it, and England must continue to play with it in order to maintain their momentum and have a good chance of beating the Springboks.
Regarded as an easy pick in the last few years, James has been looking forlorn on the bench this autumn having lost his place in the side. When he is on form, as he has been across the Channel at Stade Francais, he is extremely dangerous and carries the ball well. He is the sort of player who should be in the England team and on his day would be in the back row. The flanker has a massive point to prove tomorrow.
Once billed as England’s answer to Jonah Lomu, Banahan’s career has stuttered a bit. Chris Ashton and Mark Cueto have nailed down the wing spots, while Banahan has been reinvented as a centre. He won’t outrun the Samoan defence but he is fairly quick and powerful, so should offload well. The centre partnership is something England seem less sure about, and trying Banahan is a gamble, but this is the right game for it.
England will win but the questions are: can they follow up last week’s dazzling performance, and how many players will emerge unscathed?
Kyran is hosting a rugby business breakfast on 2 December themed ‘Managing Change’ where he will be in conversation with England captain Lewis Moody; www.gameplansolutions.co.uk