Daily Mail

Daly out to banish Dublin ghosts

MR VERSATILE WANTS REVENGE

- by Chris Foy Rugby Correspond­ent

WHEN Stuart Lancaster released Elliot Daly from England’s World Cup training camp in 2015, he offered prophetic words of consolatio­n to the Wasps centre and another rising force in the domestic game, Maro Itoje.

The gifted rookies were in the first group of players to be cut from a 50-man squad and the then head coach said: ‘They are both young players who have bright futures. I’m sure opportunit­ies will come for both of them down the line.’

He was right. The bright future has become present-day reality. Itoje made his mark first but Daly will be back in Dublin today aiming to show Lancaster why this has been his breakthrou­gh season, going from Test wannabe to prime Lions candidate. The Six Nations served as a showcase of his versatile credential­s.

Lancaster’s Leinster, who face Wasps in the Champions Cup quarter-finals, will be well aware of the threat posed by the dynamic 24-year- old midfielder. He can kick goals from huge distance, operate effectivel­y on the wing and may emerge as an option for Eddie Jones at full back.

This afternoon, Daly will be back at the Aviva Stadium where England’s Grand Slam hopes were buried underder an Irish onslaught. Reflecting on his World Cup omission two years ago, despite electrifyi­ng club formrm in the latter stages of thee previous season, he said: ‘It just wasn’t my time.

‘Stuart gave me bits to work on but I just think it was my consistenc­y. I was relatively young and with age comes maturity and the consistenc­y that’s needed in big, tight games.’

There will not be many gamesmes much bigger or tighter than Eng-England’s Six Nations clash withhWales­Wales in Cardiff, which the visitors snatched at the death courtesy of Daly’s try in the corner.

He allowed himself a brief review of the footage. ‘I looked at it a bit the next morning,’ he said. ‘It was one I’ll always remember. It was a great day. You look at it a couple of times but you’re pretty much back to earth on Monday when there’s a new team to face.’

Daly conceded it was ‘ strange’ being back with Wasps in Coventry this week after spending two months with the England squad at their five-star base in Surrey. When he brought his coffee machine from his home in Leamington Spa to theth hotel, it made his room a focal ppoint for visitors. ‘It ended up with quite a few of the boys coming round evevery day for a coffee,’ he ssaid. ‘Ben Te’o was in there every day — he’s the nightmmare customer. ‘One day he was in my room without a key, I don’t know how he got in! He was jujust sitting there, waiting.’ TThe showdown in Dublin todtoday is an early opportunit­y to papartiall­y avenge the defeat against Ireland, and also brings Daly closer to some of his relatives. He has grandparen­ts in Clare and Donegal. ‘I have a strong Irish background but I’m fully English,’ he said emphatical­ly. He concedes that England did not adapt quickly enough to the conditions and the way Ireland played in that Six Nations finale. Today, Wasps will be confronted by many of the same opponents and potentiall­y the same high-intensity approach. ‘You’ve got Leinster’s 10, 12, 13 (Johnny Sexton, Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose) who played,’ said Daly. ‘They’re going to bring the same sort of attitude. There’s a lot of Irish players in that team and the way they play is very similar.’

Daly will return to his preferred outside centre role, having occupied the left flank for England. His club director of rugby, Dai Young, believes that in due course his jack of most back-line trades will seek to become a master of one.

‘Eddie is really pleased with what Elliot brings,’ said Young. ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if he is moved around a bit and Elliot will be comfortabl­e with that for a season or so but at some point I’m sure he will want to nail a spot. I see him progressin­g to 15 or 13. Speaking to Elliot here, he feels 13 is his best position.’

Today, Daly will start in his favoured spot and hope for a happier ending in Dublin. Along the way, he can prove that Lancaster was right about his bright future.

 ?? GETTY IMAGES ?? Big stage: Daly was in superb form in the Six Nations
GETTY IMAGES Big stage: Daly was in superb form in the Six Nations
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 ?? @FoyChris ??
@FoyChris

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