Sunday 19 May 2019

Will Greenwood: 'England missed a trick losing Will Addison to Ireland and under Joe Schmidt, he'll show them why'


Ulster's Will Addison. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Ulster's Will Addison. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Will Greenwood

Will Addison is a strange fella to write a column about. Formerly of Sale, he moved to Ulster in the summer. It was not a big "neon sign" move - only just mentioned in dispatches.

But Addison is a proper player - a slow-burner who just gets better every year. The move to Ulster has seen him pick up Ireland Test caps within six months of his arrival, and Joe Schmidt does not pick mugs.

Northerners who play for Sale occasionally have to be more patient than others. Sometimes a player goes under the radar.

For England, there is a lot of talk about how Shaun Edwards and Andy Farrell are slipping through the national coaching net.

Now and then, there are less high-profile misses that can be just as disappointing and Addison looks to be one of them.

I have been following Addison's form with a view to further recognition for about three years, and every time I got ready to write a piece about him, injuries struck and dragged him back into the physio room.

At Sale, he sustained a season-ending injury in early 2017, later in the year he pinged a hamstring and then broke his jaw. Hopefully, the move to Ulster will help to break the cycle.

I first noticed Addison in early 2016 and was struck that every time he put on a jersey for Sale he was excellent - and genuinely quick.

The easy line about Addison is that he is deceptively quick, or much faster than he looks. Take it from me - he is rapid. He has a long stride and when he puts his foot down, he flies away from people and can dart through gaps.

In defence, he has real power when he makes his hits and I think, pound for pound, he was probably the toughest tackler in the Premiership.

When playing on the wing, Addison would spot a potential overlap for the opposition and hurtle in from the outside to clatter someone travelling at full tilt.

The aim was always to prevent further damage to Sale's gain line. The major problem was that he hurt himself on at least two occasions and put himself out of action. He must temper his desire to put his body on the line.

As a player, he is at home at 11, 12, 13 and 14, and has no problem filling in at 15. He can kick a ball, and had goal-kicking percentages in the low 80s at Sale.

Addison can also handle well, picking up the ball off his toes, catching and passing smoothly, and offloading when the option is there.

I wrote 12 months ago that Addison could well end up being one of those players who makes your best uncapped XV, but Addison's Ireland trip has changed all that.

In Europe, he has gone well, and his finest Ulster performance came last week away at Scarlets where he won his head-to-head with Jonathan Davies.

In Round 1 of the Champions Cup against Leicester, in the wet, he came up against Manu Tuilagi but still bagged a try, and looked lively, happy to take on anyone as always.

In Paris against Racing 92, they got heavily beaten but again it was Addison who took hold of the game early, made the burst and the offload against the power of the French midfield and allowed David Shanahan to score.

Last week was Addison's best moment so far in an Ulster jersey when he dragged his side back into the competition with a fine away win.

Early on, Davies wanted to make his presence felt and shut the gate from the outside centre berth.

Before he could clobber Addison, the Ulster man saw him, and rather than attack the ball and get hit, Addison floated wide and let the ball come to him, with Davies flying past both unable to put the brakes on.

Addison was away and fed Jacob Stockdale, who delivered a wonder finish.

All night, Ulster looked to attack, running from deep. Then, with the score 13-10 to Ulster in the second half, Addison picked his moment.

Ulster had relatively slow ball in the midfield and Scarlets looked reasonably comfortable until, like a bat out of hell, Addison speared back in towards the ruck from the outside.

He received the ball from Gareth Davies, and Ken Owens never saw him as he blew through Owens' inside shoulder and scored under the posts.

It was a fine moment and for the rest of the season there is a very good chance Addison will keep showing England exactly why they should be sorry he got away. (© The Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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