Six Nations 2015: Paul Sackey challenges England fringe players
Paul Sackey reckons England's injury replacements could retain their places in Stuart Lancaster's side
England’s injury replacements have every opportunity to stake their own claims for the famous white jersey, according to former winger Paul Sackey.
In their Six Nations Championship opener in Cardiff last Friday, the visitors stunned the Welsh and beat them 21-16 despite trailing by 10 points after just eight minutes.
Stuart Lancaster’s squad have been decimated by injuries, but the former Wasps player believes England find themselves in a great position based on the replacement’s performances.
“We clearly have a wealth of talent and such strength in depth, if they continue to perform, then they should keep the jerseys,” Sackey told The Sport Review.
The English team took their chances when they arose, and [George Ford] Fordy was superb in that respect. Defensively, [James] Haskell was a rock
“None of the players they have replaced in the England team are untouchable, and I am sure it’s a selection dilemma that [Stuart] Lancaster ideally wants.”
The visitors struggled to cope with the ferocious start by Wales, and an early Leigh Halfpenny penalty and a converted Rhys Webb try put the hosts in control.
Anthony Watson burst through to score his first England try, before George Ford reduced the arrears with a penalty, but Dan Biggar added a drop-goal on the half-time whistle to put the Welsh 16-8 in front.
The second half belonged to England, and a converted try for Jonathan Joseph – also his first for his country – followed by two Ford penalties gave the visitors a crucial opening win.
Sackey, who featured in the Rugby World Cup final in 2007, was impressed with how England soaked up the Welsh pressure, and singled out James Haskell and Ford as the star performers.
“Considering the 30-3 defeat on our last visit to Cardiff, and our injuries and inexperience, England played smartly and matched Wales’ physicality,” he said.
“The English team took their chances when they arose, and [George Ford] Fordy was superb in that respect. Defensively, [James] Haskell was a rock.”
Sackey, who has 22 England caps and played at the 2008 and 2009 Six Nation Championships, praised Lancaster for keeping continuity in the side.
“He [Lancaster] must take credit. His hand has been forced with some of the injuries, but he has faith in this team,” said the London-born winger.
“I was worried about the Welsh game, but now I think we can win the Championships. As long as we beat France, it is now a possibility. I was not sure at first, but Friday has given me a lot of confidence going forward.”
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