Thursday 8 December 2016

Daly earns call-up to England squad but Lawes is cut loose

Chris Hewett

Published 24/02/2016 | 02:30

Uncapped Wasps centre Elliot Daly is set to make his first appearance in the England match-day squad. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images.
Uncapped Wasps centre Elliot Daly is set to make his first appearance in the England match-day squad. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images.

England are in "out with the old, in with the new" mood ahead of Saturday's meeting with Ireland at Twickenham - their first appearance on the old cabbage patch since the Wallabies covered them in what might politely be called fertiliser during a traumatic World Cup campaign last autumn.

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Uncapped Wasps centre Elliot Daly will make his first appearance in the match-day squad, while long-serving lock Courtney Lawes has lost his place.

Eddie Jones made the cuts after yesterday's training. Northampton man Lawes, who started win over Italy in Rome, is no longer in the coach's affections .

He was joined on the drive home by two club colleagues: centre Luther Burrell, recalled to the squad only three days ago, and prop Kieran Brookes, who had played with Lawes at last year's World Cup.

Joe Launchbury, who caught the eye off the bench in Rome, seems certain to start alongside George Kruis in the engine room, with the brilliant Saracens prospect Maro Itoje providing the cover.

Itoje is fast closing in on a starting place in the back-row, but his positional flexibility - not to mention his energy - is such that he could happily perform both roles over the course of a game.

Daly's promotion will be widely welcomed.

His attacking form for Wasps has been exceptional, his defensive work has improved significantly this season and his spectacular goal-kicking is the most potent of additional weapons. Most people have feet attached to their ankles. Daly has something resembling a cannon.

Jones indicated earlier this week that the 23-year-old had done himself a power of good on the practice paddock.

There was also a more personal assessment from Wasps captain James Haskell, who has stood shoulder to shoulder with the newcomer for a number of seasons and knows what makes him tick.

"Elliot is an outstanding player who has always had the raw talent," said the flanker.

"Over his time with Wasps, through the relegation battle we had and other difficult periods, he's been blooded quickly. There have been points when he's seemed a bit unsure of what more he needed to do to get into international rugby, but Eddie has told him what's needed.

"He's a lovely bloke, albeit highly irritating. I'd call him the bane of my existence. In the England camp he's a lot quieter, but at Wasps you can hear him before you see him - and that's rich, coming from me. He loves a practical joke, a stitch-up, but he's also determined to succeed in this sport.

"I think he has a massive present as well as a massive future. If he gets an opportunity, he'll go well because he has that edge to him. When he's fired up he's pretty sensational, but he's learned how to contain it and stop things bubbling over."

After playing a risky selection card last time out - the England bench in Rome featured six forwards and only two backs - Jones has reverted to a more orthodox five-three split.

He believes Daly can cover full-back and left wing, as well as both centre positions, but the newcomer's primary role will be to fit into midfield as and when necessary.

Before the start of the Six Nations, the coach identified both Daly and Itoje as potential 60-cap internationals - and then declined to pick them for the opening match with Scotland at Murrayfield. Now both men are deep in the mix.

By the end of this season's business, which concludes with a three-Test trek around Australia in June, they may be a 10th of the way towards fulfilling their potential. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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