As France hoisted this year’s Six Nations title, England fans were left with the full awareness that continued inconsistency could cost them at the World Cup.
Since losing to South Africa in the World Cup final, England’s showing in the Six Nations has been uninspiring.
Despite winning the Six Nations in 2020, the performances left a lot to be desired and this year’s tournament, which saw them only win games against bottom two sides Wales and Italy, provoked more questions than answers.
A real concern is growing for England’s attacking threat.
Despite five tries against Italy, England only scored three more in the tournament’s other four matches.
Freddie Steward played well at full-back, and his showing against France on the wing demonstrated his versatility.
Steward’s aerial ability in a progressive position was utilised by England against France, however his absence at full back was evident.
England fans were prepared to see Adam Radwan or Louis Lynagh on the wing, but Max Malins started in England’s first four games, before being dropped from the squad for the showdown in Paris.
The lack of consistency, and the inability to find a starting XV is causing troublesome.
Eddie Jones could argue he was missing key players through injury, perhaps that could be his saving grace.
Owen Farrell and Manu Tuilagi missed this year’s tournament, and Jones will be relying on the experience of such players to help galvanise England before the World Cup.
There was still plenty of experience in this England side however.
George Ford is having a splendid season at Leicester, but his introduction to the game against Scotland appeared to hinder England.
Ford has lost his starting jersey to Marcus Smith, and he seemed desperate to try and impress Jones at Murrayfield but ultimately failed.
Meanwhile, Henry Slade played every game, and when paired with Joe Marchant, England looked threatening.
Marchant gained some big yards throughout the tournament, which is more than can be said of Elliot Daly who was uninspiring in his displays.
Despite England’s attack faltering, the forwards were able to demonstrate a different story.
Ellis Genge was one of few consistent performers for England, as his performances seemed to inspire the rest of the pack into producing some strong displays.
Maro Itoje continued to disrupt the opposition, yet he still hasn’t quite reached the performance level of three years ago.
Itoje’s unflappable commitment at the breakdown, and dominance in the line-out was evident in every game, making it difficult to see another player dominate in a similar fashion.
Fellow second-rower Courtney Lawes was another who performed admirably throughout the tournament, and despite missing the first two games, his presence was apparent in the final three.
Unfortunately, as Lawes re-joined the starting line-up, England lost Tom Curry through after an injury against Ireland.
Curry, an ever-present since 2017, became England’s youngest captain since Will Carling when he led the team out in round one.
His injury provided room for the return of Sam Underhill who himself has struggled with injuries.
At the back of the scrum and England boast world class talent in Sam Simmonds and Alex Dombrandt.
Both have the skillset to perform at the international level, yet they struggled to assert their presence.
Jones has always rotated between the two, and this is a difficult decision to make, but the lack of consistency continues to hinder England’s progress.
As England’s line-up changes every game, fans feel Jones needs to regain a team identity if he wants to see England win the World Cup.
Fortunately, there is still enough time for Jones to do this before the World Cup kicks off, but the clock is ticking and fans will want to see an improvement quickly.
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