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Tuesday Feb 27, 2024

Stuart Barnes proposes radical selection for England's match with Ireland

Renowned rugby commentator and former England flyhalf Stuart Barnes is not one to shy away from a left-field take.

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Oftentimes causing a stir with his opinions, Barnes has an ability to create a conversation, particularly when it comes to English rugby.

Writing in the Times this morning, Barnes has taken this to another level, proposing a radical selection idea for Steve Borthwick to ponder ahead of his team’s clash with Ireland at Twicken in round four of the Six Nations.

Pinpointing England’s strongest ball carrier as backrow Ben Earls, Barnes makes the point that the uber-effective Saracens player needs more touches.

Going on to write, “Anyone else notice who carried the most and most effectively against Scotland?” Barnes answers, “That’s right, it was Ben Earl, again.”

Certainly, Earls has been one of England’s leading lights over the past twelve months, but what Barnes suggested next is unlikely to have been mentioned in the England coach’s meetings.

“So I am picking him at inside centre. He can slip back to No 8 for the odd attacking scrum and link up like a back-row forward.” Barnes writes before going on to offer justification for the move.

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“If anyone thinks England don’t need to think radically after the constant failure to ignite under Borthwick, they are condemning England’s fans to dreary wins against weak teams and disappointment against superior sides.”

Once again Barnes has caused an interesting debate less than two weeks out from what will likely be England’s toughest challenge of this year’s Six Nations.

 

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