Looking at social media, some people seem a bit underwhelmed by Eddie’s first selection of the autumn — but I like it a lot.
It includes some really encouraging trends, not least Eddie is selecting the team he wants and not being swayed by public or media pressure.
First, the unambiguous selection of Owen Farrell at fly-half, which I have been advocating for a while now. Farrell has done an excellent job for England and the Lions at No 12 but he is a fly-half by instinct and that is where he plays on a weekly basis for Saracens.
Owen Farrell has done an excellent job for England at No 12, but he is a fly-half by instinct
England have the best chance of winning the World Cup if Farrell has the No 10 on his back
That is the position where he can have the biggest influence on England and the bottom line is, if England are to win the World Cup, I believe he must start at No 10.
It’s a big call but, at the start of an incredibly demanding year, Eddie has made it and people can start learning how to work around Farrell in that position. Other selections can start falling into place. While the accent on winning matches never lessens, there is a window now for the England back division to begin to configure around Farrell.
The selection of Ben Te’o at 12 is a big pointer as well. That position will now be occupied by a more direct runner than in recent seasons, presumably Te’o or Manu Tuilagi.
The knock-on effect is that the versatile Henry Slade now has to make his case at 13 where he has been going well for Exeter. Saturday is a huge game for everybody in the England set-up but it is, I would suggest, particularly important for Slade’s long-term future
Ben Te’o at 12 is a big pointer too, he is a more direct runner in that position than we have seen
Henry Slade has been in scintillating form at No 13 for Exeter and has to impress on Saturday
I applaud the selection of Mark Wilson at No 8 for such a big game. It’s a bit of a cliche and indeed an insult but the truth is that clubs