Published On: Sun, Mar 17th, 2024

England may lose three key players after Six Nations as Matt Dawson ‘absolutely’ convinced | Rugby | Sport

Matt Dawson has suggested that two key players could follow Manu Tuilagi out of the England squad following their third-placed finish in the Six Nations. A narrow defeat to France on the final weekend saw England end up behind Les Bleus in the table, with Ireland clinching the title earlier in the day.

Steve Borthwick could be set to lose at least one player over the coming weeks, with Tuilagi widely expected to call time on his international career. He is reportedly planning to move to either France or Japan at the end of the season, making him unavailable for England due to RFU rules stating that players must compete in the Premiership to be eligible for selection.

Writing in his column for BBC Sport, Dawson suggested that captain Jamie George and veteran fly-half George Ford could also be on their way out despite questions over whether they have maximised their potential for England.

He said: “There is absolutely no question in my mind that the likes of Jamie George and Ford, in particular, have had a conversation between themselves along the lines of: ‘We haven’t got that much longer in an England jersey, how are we going to go out?’.

“They have played in the same sort of team with loads of their mates and got to a World Cup final, and played in big games but ‘have we really maximised our potential?’. They are two bright guys and seem to have good common sense away from rugby as well.”

England began their Six Nations campaign with two wins over Italy and Wales despite criticism of their style of play, which came back to haunt them in the agonising defeat to Scotland. Improvements were clear to see from that point onwards, with England looking much better against Ireland and France following a change in philosophy.

Dawson went on to praise England’s new style, which he believes is the perfect fit for their current group of players. He wrote: “After the first two wins over Italy and Wales, we gave them the benefit of the doubt in the hope they would get us off our seats and make us enjoy watching them because we didn’t necessarily see that style.

“But as soon as they switched in those two weeks after the Scotland defeat, first edging out Ireland and then almost beating France, there is just no doubt this is the England we are going to see going forward.

“They were very quick to realise the tactics they deployed against France in the first half were probably not going to win the game. Maybe in games gone by they would have kept on doing the same as they did against the Scots with their box-kicking, but in Lyon, they were points down and still trying to win the game.

“The players and the coaches have realised they definitely have the personnel and the individual skill, and now they have the intent to compete against anyone.”

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