Sir Clive Woodward: England's search for genuine back-row specialists must continue - Ruck

Sir Clive Woodward: England’s search for genuine back-row specialists must continue

2003 Rugby World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward has urged England boss Eddie Jones to continue his search for a specialist flanker rather than convert one of his locks.

“I was intrigued by the growing assumption that England are about to convert either Courtney Lawes or Maro Itoje to blindside flanker.” wrote Woodward for the MailOnline.

“It could well happen and looks good on paper but I would advise caution.

Embed from Getty Images

“Lawes was very prominent in adversity at Clermont and Itoje looked in good nick against a defiant Ospreys but I’m not sure there isn’t an element of fudging the selection at second row here.

“England have four top locks — Itoje, Lawes, George Kruis and Joe Launchbury — but you can only start two. Clearly there is a temptation to move one into the back row. But is that the correct motivation for such a decision?

“For me, England’s search for genuine back-row specialists must continue. Billy Vuniploa when fit is your No 8, while Chris Robshaw is still the first choice blindside.

“Lawes and Itoje must bring something superior to what Robshaw offers if they are even to be considered there.


“Perhaps there is also a natural No 7 not on our radar who Eddie has spotted. Test rugby is a funny beast.

“I think back to Will Greenwood. He wasn’t a ‘star’ through the age groups but we identified some qualities we liked and at international level, he was world class. How England must wish they could find Greenwood’s equivalent at openside. “