Lawrence Dal­laglio on Eng­land’s back-row op­tions

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby | World Cup - By Ben Coles Land Rover is of­fi­cial World­wide Part­ner of Rugby World Cup 2019

Eng­land’s re­cent switch of the com­po­si­tion of their back row, field­ing Tom Curry and Sam Un­der­hill along­side each other, mim­ics a world­wide trend when it comes to how teams will at­tack the break­down at the World Cup, ac­cord­ing to for­mer Eng­land No8 Lawrence Dal­laglio.

Ed­die Jones’s de­ci­sion to pair the open­sides worked against Ire­land, and the com­bi­na­tion is poised to be used in key pool matches against France and Ar­gentina.

“The ar­gu­ment is the same as play­ing Michael Hooper and David Po­cock, or Ardie Savea and Sam Cane,” said Dal­laglio, a Land Rover am­bas­sador. “Opt­ing for two sevens now just shows how things can change at the last minute. The game has shifted more to­wards the break­down again, par­tic­u­larly with how it is of­fi­ci­ated, it be­comes such a key area. Hav­ing two sevens gives you a real li­cence to at­tack that area.”

Eng­land’s strong tight five also al­lows Jones to ex­per­i­ment with the back row. “In 2003, Richard Hill, Neil Back and my­self per­formed well be­cause we had Martin John­son and Ben Kay in front of us. If you have strong ball car­ri­ers, the fo­cus is dif­fer­ent. If you have amaz­ing line-out for­wards, your op­tions change.

“It’s horses for cour­ses. Sam Un­der­hill and Tom Curry looked par­tic­u­larly good against Ire­land, and they are good, but that was also be­cause Maro Itoje and Ge­orge Kruis ruled the air. Against a bet­ter line-out, maybe New Zealand or South Africa, they might start with Curry, Un­der­hill and Billy Vu­nipola but then opt for the flex­i­bil­ity of mov­ing Itoje into the back row.

“You have to get your set-piece right, which in turn puts pres­sure on the locks and the front row. You might come un­stuck dur­ing games without an Itoje or Court­ney Lawes.”

One cer­tainty is that Vu­nipola will be in­te­gral when it comes to Eng­land’s hopes. “Billy is ca­pa­ble of do­ing things that very few play­ers can do, mul­ti­ple car­ries but also with that abil­ity to off­load and pro­duce mo­ments that can turn games.”

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