International Scout Notes – 14th Jan
Whilst Strettle’s inclusion in the England squad may have caused a stir, Ugo Monye went unnoticed into the England Saxons. This was clearly somewhere he did not want to be and his performance against Connacht certainly emphasised this. A superb individual effort will have sent a reminder to Stuart Lancaster that there are still a few weeks to go and with the wing being a position up for grabs, this is no time to be stepping down. Ashton’s performance at the weekend certainly left something to be desired, there is still possibility that the likes of Monye and Wade could find themselves in the elite.
The Six Nations is drawing tantalisingly closer and it is looking an exciting prospect, especially after the weekend’s excitement. With the tournament nearing its return the question of who will be England’s starting number 10 makes its inevitable cameo and the pendulum has swung favourably in the way of 32 point Farrell. Saracens overturned a first half deficit to come away victorious from Racing Metro 92, with a flawless display from the young fly-half, kicking 11 from 11 penalties. Farrell has certainly found his rhythm in recent weeks but will Lancaster be looking for someone a bit more dynamic, or will he go with Farrell’s “ice cold temperament” when England take on Scotland on the 2nd of February?
Jennings looks likely to be in contention for the Six Nations following his contribution to keeping Leinster’s European hopes alive with this maximum points win. Leinster had to grind away for a well-deserved and much needed victory against the Scarlets’, who were proving a side unwilling to lie down. With his side needing points, Sexton opted to kick for touch, the resulting line out saw Flanker Jennings barge over, a try that owed much to this impressive forward work at the line out. . Leinster’s performance exemplified the ambitious nature of the coming Irish team, a great promise of things to come.
It seems hard work has paid off for the injury plagued forward. His inclusion in the Scotland squad shows just much a fresh start at Montpellier has benefited the 27 year old. Beattie is regular figure in the starting line-up for Montpellier, something that has given the forward a new lease of life. Furthermore his side have been excellent in the pool and his try scoring performance against Sale would have helped to have sealed his place back in the international squad.
Hibbard and Jones added themselves to growing injury list for Wales making one thing for certain; The Six nations will be interesting for Wales and Welsh fans alike. Another gloomy weekend saw provided little encouragement as well. However, the Scarlets momentary resilience against leinster would have given heart to some. Liam Williams scored a try and added a sweetly struck drop goal, showing that the Welsh backline still contains some promise and raw talent.
By Jono Frank