Eddie Jones has defended his decision to drop Ollie Lawrence despite the rookie England centre being limited to a peripheral role in the Calcutta Cup debacle.
Lawrence, playing for England over 210 minutes, has made one kick, two passes, nine runs for a total of five metres, and 20 tackles. For Worcester in 160 minutes this season, he has made three kicks, nine passes, 17 runs for 94 metres and made 18 tackles
“We want to be on the front foot the whole time and this pack allows us to do that. And then the backs have got to be able to take those opportunities and turn them into points and that’s the priority this week,” Jones said.
“We want to play good English rugby, where we are as close to our best as we can be.
“That involves having good set-piece, good defence and then being able to take those opportunities when they come in attack and turn them into points.
“We’ve just tried to get the information right this week, which can get us back playing front-foot rugby.
“That’s when we’re at our best, that’s when we are one of the most damaging teams in the world and that’s what we want to get back to.”
Guscott, who was renowned as the prince of centres, wasn’t happy with the decision to drop Lawrence, tweeting: “Very miffed that Ollie Lawrence left out of the Eng team to face Italy this weekend. Seemed like the perfect game to pass the ball to him more than once.”
Another former England centre, Austin Healey, added in his column for the Telegraph: “Ask George Ford, off the record, who he would rather have playing at 12 between Owen Farrell and Lawrence, if you put the friendship with Farrell aside and the fact they know each other so well.
“Ford knows that if he is under pressure he can just drop the ball off to Lawrence, who can take it forward. Farrell is a good ball-carrier, but Lawrence is better, more dynamic, beats more defenders.”