Stuart Barnes Savages “Idling” England International Following Wales Defeat
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Outspoken pundit Stuart Barnes has questioned England head coach Eddie Jones’ judgement following Saturday’s Six Nations defeat to Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.
Jones kept Leicester Tigers centre Manu Tuilagi on the pitch for the entire 80 minutes on Saturday, refusing to bring on his club teammate George Ford – who Barnes feels could have made a real difference for England.
The former England international says Jones showed “blind faith” in an “idling” Tuilagi who he says has “disappeared“ since the first five minutes against Ireland in round one. Writing for the Times, Barnes says Tuilagi really hasn’t offered much.
“Manu Tuilagi was magnificent — for those first five minutes against Ireland. Other than a blistering break in the second half against Wales and the odd tackle, he has since disappeared. Yet he was there from the first to last minute in Cardiff. So too against France. Not so much the science of selection as an act of blind faith on the part of Eddie Jones.”
Barnes reckons Jones could have taken off Tuilagi for Ford, or even shifted him to outside centre, with Ford and Farrell in the 10-12 axis.
“Jones could have substituted his idling centre; he could have shifted him to outside centre, a man who waits for the ball to come his way instead of hunting it out.”
“The reason Jones refused to make what seems an obvious switch was because Farrell kicking, dictating, from fly half has become the central axis of the game plan. The passing game was a passing phase. It needs to be restored to life, and quickly. Otherwise what is the point of Ford, other than as a straight cover for Farrell?”
Barnes also feels Dan Robson could have made a serious impact off the bench. The Wasps scrumhalf was an unused replacement in the defeat. Does he have a point?