Six Nations 2015: Paul Sackey backs England to cope amid injury crisis
Paul Sackey is looking forward to seeing England's up-and-coming stars performing during Six Nations
Paul Sackey says he is unconcerned with England’s recent injury problems that have forced key players to miss this year’s Six Nations.
Stuart Lancaster has been forced to replace Owen Farrell, Ben Morgan and Manu Tuilagi, who will take no part in the tournament due to long-term injuries.
Cips will also bring just a little more flair to the back line but there isn’t much to separate him and Ford
Lancaster has also had to temporarily draft in a replacement for David Wilson and Kyle Eastmond ahead of their opening match against Wales tonight.
But despite the injuries, Sackey told The Sport Review that he feels England have enough quality in the squad to do well in the competition.
“I’m not too worried to be honest,” said Sackey.
“I think the injuries to Morgan and Tuilagi are key because these two bring a different aspect to the game.
“They can make things happen out of nothing and I think they will both be missed for the sheer power, pace and quality they possess.
“But then you got players like Luther Burrell and Jonathan Joseph coming in who can sort of mask Tuilagi and Morgan if they settle in quickly.
“I think Joseph in particular has been in good form since the beginning of the season and he brings something different and he will want to go out there make it difficult to put Tuilagi back in the team.
“I also think if Nick Easter is called upon, he can come in with his experience and power to cover that area and represent England accordingly.”
So instead of feeling downbeat about England’s situation, the Rugby World Cup finalist is excited to see new players coming through and getting their chance to represent the Red Rose.
Sackey is particularly pleased to see former teammate Danny Cipriani included in the England squad, and the former Wasps man is confident the fly-half can have a positive affect on the team.
“I’ve played with Cips (Cipriani) and I know what he can do,” he said.
“He controls the game really well and he’s just got that extra little bit of creativity that none of the other 10s in the England squad have got at the minute.
“I know George Ford is very good but I think in terms of attacking ability Cips is edges it and is probably a little bit better than him.
“Cips will also bring just a little more flair to the back line but there isn’t much to separate him and Ford so whoever plays will do well for England.”
If you play for England and put that shirt on all you want to do is play well and cement your place in the team
Cipriani has been named on the bench for tonight’s match after George Ford was selected for his Six Nations debut.
Meanwhile Joseph, Anthony Watson and George Kruis are all listed in the starting line-up and are set to make their first appearances for England.
Despite the number of debutants in the first 15, Lancaster’s squad consists of many players who have little international experience.
But Sackey feels this is the best opportunity for the likes of Cipriani, Joseph and Burrell to represent England on the biggest stage in September.
“I honestly think that the guys coming in their place for the injured players will do as good a job for England because they will want to try and get themselves into the World Cup squad,” he said.
“Everybody is fighting for a place so for the guys that are injured it is really unfortunate for them but it opens the door for another guy who is ambitious and wants to do well for his country.
“If you play for England and put that shirt on all you want to do is play well and cement your place in the team.
“If these new players can do that and make it hard for these experienced guys to be picked back into the team, then the management have got a healthy problem to deal with.
“It only helps England rugby in the long run.”
Paul Sackey is taking part in the new urban obstacle race Adrenaline Rush for Macmillan Cancer Support on 30th May 2015. For more info www.theadrenalinerush.com