Wednesday 16 January 2019

Super England chasing Slam

Joe Launchbury
Joe Launchbury

It is February 22nd, 2014 and the heat of battle between white and green is at boiling point.

Ireland are on the brink of breaking England out wide when Dave Kearney takes off up the left wing at Twickenham. The Louthman is closing in on a one-on-one with Mike Brown when out of nowhere Joe Launchbury gets across to tap-tackle Kearney. Game over.

It brought back that memory of All Black Ali Williams chasing down Ireland's Anthony Horgan from behind under the West Stand in November 2005 at Lansdowne Road.

It left the same psychological stain. If their second row could catch our wing, what chance have we?

The back five athleticism that was in the almost exclusive ownership of New Zealand has now been bought and paid for by England.

This is what makes the back-to-back Six Nations champions a superior animal.

They have in Launchbury, Courtney Lawes and Maro Itoje three second rows who have all played plenty of rugby at blindside. This means when the English are broken, their scramble defence covers the ground quicker than others.

Imagine Devin Toner and Donnacha Ryan trying to chase down an international wing in a wide channel - or even CJ Stander, Sean O'Brien or Jamie Heaslip. It would simply be beyond their reach.

It is this notion of the super-athlete that makes Lunchbury and, by extension, England a super-force.

England's 61-21 seven-try thrashing of Scotland in Twickenham is the best thing that could have happened for Ireland. Now, the Irish public know what the Irish management have known for some while. England have always had the man material to match the best.

They will take the next step by looking to win back-to-back Grand Slams for the first time since 1991-1992.

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