On Tuesday night, Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus made an attempt to anticipate England’s lineup for the World Cup semi-final, but he refrained from making a definitive choice for their full-back position.
The playful South African found himself torn between Marcus Smith and Freddie Steward as he eagerly awaits Steve Borthwick’s official team announcement on Thursday.
“Now, we’re guessing, obviously. We took the basic guys – [Ellis] Genge, [Jamie] George, [Kyle] Sinckler, [Maro] Itoje, [Ollie] Chessum, [Courtney] Lawes, [Tom] Curry, [Ben] Earl, [Alex] Mitchell, [Owen] Farrell, [Elliot] Daly, [Manu] Tuilagi, [Joe] Marchant, [Jonny] May, Marcus Smith or [Freddie] Steward. That’s who we think but we might be totally wrong,” said Erasmus.
“Firstly, guessing their team it’s interesting – Marcus, will he or Freddie play? Marcus has the massive X-factor while Freddie is unbelievable under the high ball.
“Will Owen play inside centre with Tuilagi outside or will Ford play fly-half and drop-goal everything there? They’ve got Courtney who can play lock and flank, he’s been such a rock at flank for them and they have the energy of the other two young loose forwards.
“They bring energy on the field in all departments. They’ve got Sinckler there, Jamie and so many experienced players who played against us last time.
“I think because they played us end of year last year, and they played us at the Rugby World Cup and Rugby World Cup final, and I think they’ll have some beef with us.
“I think they’ll be very physical, they’ll definitely step it up in all set phases and then they have a team full of – Tuilagi, it’ll be a big job to stop him regardless of what position he plays.
“Then you have Farrell, and the new scrum-half and I’m sure Danny Care and Ben Youngs will be in the mix.
“But the new scrum-half is certainly someone who can light it up with his breaks around the rucks. There’re threats all over the park and it’s starting to get together for Borthwick.”
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#1. Dave Attwood
Dave Attwood facts:
He made 157 appearances in Blue, Black and White over an eight-year period during his first spell at Bath before returning in 2022
His debut came against Newcastle Falcons at the beginning of the 2011/12 season after arriving from Gloucester, scoring four tries in his first campaign
The lock quickly established himself as a key player in the Bath pack and excelled at international level too, with 22 of his 24 England caps coming whilst at the Re
The former England international has also played for Bristol (twice), Gloucester and Toulon during his established career