CAPTAIN: Owen Farrell
HEAD COACH: Eddie Jones
The return to the squad of Courtney Lawes will be a welcome one, given he is one of the best tacklers in the England squad, and adds plenty of international experience and leadership in the second row. Bristol Bears scrum-half Harry Randall has been rewarded for his excellent form in the Premiership with a first ever call-up, and he adds plenty of attacking quality to the centre of the pitch. The other new option in the team, Wasps winger Paolo Odogwu, has shown himself to be quick, direct, and another who loves having the ball. He is a player showing really good promise, and is still only 23 years old, so has plenty of time to develop even further.
Saracens centre Maro Itoje has been one of the best players in the England team in recent years, and is usually found at the centre of all their good attacking moves. He is particularly important in the scrum and lineout, and is the driving force at the heart of their good play. At the age of 26, he is already a well-established international player, and there is no doubt that he will be essential to England’s hopes of controlling games in this year’s tournament, as he is in every match he features in for club and country.
England’s tactics under Eddie Jones revolve around having utility players, who can fill multiple positions, and Henry Slade fits that mould perfectly. The Exeter Chiefs back usually plays at centre, but Eddie Jones has used him at centre, full-back, wing and fly-half, and that makes him such a dependable player for his country. He has pace and a knack of finding gaps in opposing defences, and also possesses a very accurate kicking quality as well, and so England will be looking for him to be his usual energetic self in this year’s Six Nations campaign.
England are one of those teams that have really good moments and really bad moments, sometimes in the same game. This means that you just never know which team is going to turn up until they start playing. However, in 2020, despite a bad start, they managed to pick it up at the end and win the tournament on the final day, with the help of other results going their way. There is no doubting, given the quality they have in the team, that they can and probably should beat everyone else, but they just didn’t always play their best.
England should win the title, and should get the Grand Slam, as mentioned. However, with their biggest problem being lack of application at times, and sometimes even perhaps complacency creeping in, they need to play at the top of their game in every match. Whether they will or not remains to be seen, but the prediction of this analysis is that, if they do play with the quality that we know they have, they should successfully defend the title.