Phil Vickery backs Freddie Burns as England fly-half
World Cup winner Phil Vickey believes Freddie Burns could emerge as England's first-choice fly-half
Phil Vickery believes England’s future lies with Leicester Tigers-bound Freddie Burns at fly-half – and the No10 shirt’s current incumbent on his outside.
Competition for England’s fly-half berth has been intense since the New Year, with Saracens’ Owen Farrell, Bath Rugby’s George Ford, Burns and Sale Sharks man Danny Cipriani all in the mix.
At ten I think Burns, if the Leicester thing happens for him, could be first choice
Farrell has been the man in possession for the last two years but, with Ford missing this month’s tour of New Zealand, Burns put his hat in the ring with a pair of accomplished displays.
Former England prop Vickery believes Burns, who moves to Welford Road from Gloucester Rugby for the start of the new season, could be Stuart Lancaster’s man for the long-term.
However, that doesn’t mean the end for Farrell, who could instead move to inside centre and displace Burns’ former teammate Billy Twelvetrees.
“I was disappointed for Billy after he was dropped and that is England’s biggest area of concern – that midfield,” Vickery told the Gloucester Citizen.
“At ten I think Burns, if the Leicester thing happens for him, could be first choice. But then we talk about where Farrell can play and I think that inside centre spot could be his.
“It is natural for him. If we compare Billy to Farrell they are very similar physically and Farrell is as strong if not stronger.
“Having him at inside centre will open that England game up a little bit more, with two kickers, two thinkers. And then you have the wrecking machine in the centre and on the wings.”
Those wings are also a topic of much debate and Vickery believes Gloucester’s Jonny May faces a tricky fight to work his way back up the pecking order.
After featuring in all five of England’s Six Nations matches this year, May started the first Test against the All Blacks only to be left out of the squad altogether for the next two.
Vickery added: “Jonny May has done well but I think he is going to be under a lot of pressure and he needs to step up at Gloucester to kick on for the autumn series.”