The last week of rugby has thrown up some interesting talking points with Eddie Jones announcing his first EPS but did he pick right?
Read that more in our five talking points from the last week in rugby
1. Food for thought for Eddie Jones?
Although Tom Youngs missing out on selection stole all the headlines, the absence of Joe Simpson from Eddie Jones first EPS was the most surprising for me and his display this weekend furthered this line of thinking.
The Wasps scrum-half displayed once again how he’d bring something entirely different to the table than the picked number 9’s Danny Care and Ben Youngs with his accurate service from the breakdown and potentially try-saving tackles.
A lot less flashy but offers more substance and solidity than the duo who have been selected.
He made last-ditch stops to breaks from international stars Bryan Habana and Duane Vermeulen in a superb all-round display against Toulon, making yet another strong case for an international call-up.
Meanwhile, Tom Youngs also put in a stellar performance in Leicester’s success against Treviso, which makes me question why the in-form hooker has been overlooked in favour of the untested Exeter man Luke Cowan-Dickie. This decision is baffling.
Do you think Joe Simpson and Tom Youngs should have been in the England squad?!…
2. Racing Metro are the most exciting team in Europe right now
The Paris-based side humiliated Scarlets, displaying their international class and current form in what was overall a near-perfect display.
Racing ran in nine tries in the comprehensive victory in the French capital, Casey Laulala grabbing a hat-trick and World Cup-winning fly-half Dan Carter kicking 13 points.
The win secured the Top 14 side’s quarter-final place, and they really do have the whole package in their squad with a dominant forward pack giving their spectacular backs a solid base to play on with three-time world player of the year Carter steering the ship.
They, for sure look like a much better group currently than reigning European champions Toulon with an equally spectacular line-up, however, a more cohesive way of operating.
Who do you think will win the Champions Cup this year?!…
3. Could young Ospreys star Sam Davies be Wales’ surprise Six Nations selection?
He’s received rave reviews for guiding the Ospreys to one of their greatest wins off the bench, so what are the chances of the former World Junior Player of the Year being named in Warren Gatland’s Wales squad on Tuesday?
Davies came on for the injured Dan Biggar after 48 minutes and helped change the tempo and course of the game with a flawless 15-point kicking display, including four penalties and a drop-goal.
The number 10, who has impressed whenever he has featured this season, may be a better pick than someone like Rhys Priestland due to his right now unlimited potential and youthful exuberance, which makes him a far more dynamic option for Gatland if a game isn’t going as he’d like.
Do you think Sam Davies should be in Wales Six Nations squad?!…
4. Jonny Wilkinson lined up for England role
Eddie Jones has made the positive move of inviting England legend Jonny Wilkinson to join his coaching team after an extraordinary meeting with the World Cup-winning fly-half at a supermarket.
Jones met Wilkinson last weekend and is keen to involve him in a small coaching team that at the moment only includes Jones himself, forwards coach Steve Borthwick and defence coach Paul Gustard, with Ian Peel doing some part-time scrummaging work.
Getting him in is a no brainer and here is why…
Wilkinson was a winner, a fantastic player but also, most importantly, a scholar of the game with an enormous knowledge of not just physical on field performance but the mental side of the sport.
His analysis at the Rugby World Cup was second to none while the former England number 10’s winning mentality is something Jones needs to try to reproduce in his current crop of players.
Get him in Eddie!
Would Jonny Wilkinson be a good addition to Eddie Jones coaching staff?
5. Leigh Halfpenny staying in France
Bernard Laporte, Toulon’s director of rugby, has confirmed the British Lions star will see out the final year of his three-year contract.
I have to say it’s kind of surprised me that with a bumper deal on offer to return to Wales or join Premiership side Wasps that the fullback has decided to stay in the sunny south of France.
There was talk that Halfpenny’s decision to play abroad could hamper his international aspirations. However, his status as one of the northern hemisphere’s finest talents means he has retained a spot in the Wales starting XV…when he happens to be fit.
It’s overall very disappointing that the Welshman won’t be coming back to British shores for next season as I think that would have been the best move for his rugby career. I’d hope to see him back though before the 2019 Rugby World Cup.