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Haskell at 8: bold, misguided or no option?

England
by Spikey910 (U2092761) 11 November 2009
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So as widely expected Haskell starts at 8. I think a lot of people have big expectations of him. I really hope he has a good game but I have concerns. I don't doubt his talent as a 6 and as a dynamic ball carrier, something we need need more of.

He's seems to be learning and adding to his game at SF, one aspect being his ball winning on the floor, but that's been at 6. My worries stem from watching him play at 8 for Wasps several times. To be honest he wasn't very good - Wasps didn't persevere with it, and most worryingly it seemed to detract from his running game. His control at the base wasn't great, he didn't explode off the base, looked a bit lost and was generally pretty anonymous.

He may have improved as an 8 but it's a massive ask and I'm not sure he's had the playing time there to do it. I really hope my worries are misplaced.

After deciding Crane wasn't the answer you could argue that given the squad choice, MJ has no other option at 8 other than a just fit again Worsley. Easter's injury has shown that 8 is a weak position for England and reflected in the EPS selection.

Should Dowson or Dan Ward Smith have been there? Well I'm not sure, Dowson's a good player but no quicker than Crane, and despite allegedly impressive sprint results in England training camp, DWS has looked no more than solid at Wasps this year and has been playing recently at 6. If DWS really is that quick he's been disguising it well this season.

So all in all, maybe Haskell at 8 is a risk worth taking, but don't be surprised if it's disappointing.

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comment by Rick S (U1674899)

posted Nov 11, 2009

"What is Guest like as a ball player? Can't really recall whether he's any good. For my money that's one of the things that puts Easter ahead of the other slowish 8's around."

Same here - I haven't seen Guest enough to judge. My vague, and probably unfair, impression is that although his hands are quite good, he tries to offload and make the ball available (which is good) but as a result doesn't always protect it well in contact and can get turned over.

Agreed, Easter's hands are quite superb, as is his rugby brain (do you remember him evesdropping on the Irish huddle at Twickenham last year?) and general ability to be in the right place at the right time. He also always goes forwards (although often in reverse gear!) and is immensely strong. Pace is the only thing he actually lacks - we're really missing him at the moment.

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posted Nov 11, 2009

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posted Nov 11, 2009

I'm an avid rugby fan and haven't penned my thoughts on these message boards before, but i have become more and more disillusioned with the current state of english rugby:

Martin Johnson and his coaching staff seem not to be taking us forward and have a selection policy which can only be described as questionable, with a focus on immediate results and a reluctance to select players for the future. Marc Lievremont was heavily criticised but his experimentation is beginning to reap the benefits.

The front row can be negated because of injury concerns, but there appears to be problems from there on:

The second row lacks dynamism - Deacon and Borthwick both should not be in the team, but we have to accept that Borthwick is our captain. I don't quite know how Deacon has cemented a place, he doesn't carry and is not as good around the park or in the lineout as some of his competitors (kennedy is black-listed for his perceived lack of impact),but despite his performance he is still selected at the detriment of developing others, particularly Lawes. Our pack was abysmal last week and that is not solely contributable to the front row. we need a good platform to get quick ball.

Moody was heroic last week and Croft is outstanding but is lost in an England team who don't know how to exploit his link play and pace. Haskell is a step forward and has some 'go forward factor' which Crane doesn't possess.

The backs do read better and have the potential to unlock defences. Geraghty has been brilliant at fly half for irish, but we don't want him making breaks behind the gain line.
Monye is a brilliant winger and quins 3rd choice full-back who was a little lost at the weekend. His impact would be best made on the pitch and he should not be shuffled round to pick cueto who lost his spark 3 years ago. Despite the injuries to Armitage and Morgan, we have Foden released back to his club. As such the England back 3 does not pose as much of a threat as possible. Does Brian Smith have any impact in back selection or is he left to work with what Johnno and John Wells pick?

However the biggest selection issue is with our bench. Erinle (French based and poor handling) and Goode (Geraghty on the pitch) leaves little room for inspiration. There is no game changing potential.

All i ask for is bolder selection and courage of conviction and the boldness to say that in the short term its not totally about results. 2nd place in the 6 nations has blinded us slightly.

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posted Nov 11, 2009

"Agreed, Easter's hands are quite superb, as is his rugby brain (do you remember him evesdropping on the Irish huddle at Twickenham last year?) "

No, missed that, sounds entertaining. I've always thought he's a captaincy option other than Borthwick as well.

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posted Nov 11, 2009

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posted Nov 11, 2009

@Paulh26, you say this is your first post, could I give you some friendly advice. I don't mean to sound patronising but you've added a long post about your general England thoughts on a thread specifically about the number 8 position.

That's a bit annoying but more to the point you'll get much more reaction and responses to your thoughts if you start a new thread for something like that.

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posted Nov 11, 2009

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posted Nov 11, 2009

Tim Rodber was a dynamic, world class #8. What are you talking about bracketing him with Sheasby?

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comment by Rick S (U1674899)

posted Nov 11, 2009

"No, missed that, sounds entertaining. I've always thought he's a captaincy option other than Borthwick as well."

Yes, there was an injury break and all the Ireland team linked arms and went into a huddle, and Easter just hung around on the outside listening to what they were saying (if I can find the clip I'll post it on YouTube).

He's definitely captaincy material - I think the only reason he hasn't been considered is because he's no spring chicken and wasn't sure of his place at 8 until recently. For my money, he's way ahead of Borthwick as a leader and talisman.

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posted Nov 12, 2009

Haskell is an idiot. We all know that. He's also really good so let's ignore his personality and give him a chance to prove he's as good as he thinks he is.

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