MIKE BROWN: Sinfield will be having harsh words with England players

MIKE BROWN: Kevin Sinfield will be having some harsh words with his England players after the defeat to Scotland – the defence was simply not good enough

  • England were woeful defensively during their defeat to Scotland on Saturday 
  • Marcus Smith should be dropped as he’s struggling alongside Owen Farrell
  • Anthony Watson, who brings talent and experience, should be starting 

I watched Duhan van der Merwe’s try back a few times on my journey home from Twickenham on Saturday night. What an unbelievable score. He deserves all the praise that will go his way but the defence was simply not good enough for international players.

Kevin Sinfield will be having some harsh words with his new England players in the review meeting. The defence was way off throughout. There were a too many gaps and players going out of the system, compounded by poor tackle technique. That is an individual player’s responsibility.

Someone like Van der Merwe is not going to do anything but run at you. He had a field day. It is hard to get a defensive system embedded in 10 days when you have players coming in from all over the Premiership but with another week together that should get better.

The upside is that defence is easier to fix up than attack in the short. It comes down to mentality as much as technique. Knowing Steve Borthwick, I am sure he and Sinfield will be very disappointed with that and they will let the players know it is not acceptable in an England shirt. I am sure that will be fixed pretty quickly.

Taking the positives, the attack looked a lot better when they were playing on top of Scotland. They were moving the ball to space and looked really good. For the first try for Max Malins, I don’t think Marcus Smith would have attempted that kick-assist under Eddie Jones.

England defence coach Kevin Sinfield will be disappointed with the display versus Scotland

Duhan van der Merwe’s try was impressive but the defence was way off throughout

The massive problem was England kept letting Scotland back into the game. If you can’t pull away against a team like the Scots, who were oozing with belief because they have done it before, then you are in trouble. 

If you let them stay in the fight they can pull a rabbit out of the bag and they did at the end to win the match. That’s exactly what they did.

Borthwick should stick with the same 23 for next Sunday’s game against Italy – but have a reshuffle of the starting line-up.

It is tough when you lose to a team like Scotland, with the rivalry, at home, in the first game because you know you have got an uphill battle for the rest of the tournament. So Borthwick can freshen things up by picking a fly-half at 10 and playing him there.

I am still not 100 per cent sold on the Marcus Smith – Owen Farrell partnership at 10 and 12. They didn’t play that badly but I think Borthwick should play guys in their natural positions.

Put Marcus on the bench. Owen is captain so he has to start – it is a tough call but it’s the sort of call the new head coach has got to make. He has made some big decisions already but this would be the biggest. It would suit them team much better to have a proper 12 like Ollie Lawrence.

I would get Anthony Watson in the starting team. It is not because the other guys have played badly but on his day he is world class and adds some experience to the backline especially if you have a novice at inside centre.

The forwards did pretty well, they were dangerous in attack and the only tweak I would make there would be to start Ben Earl instead of Ben Curry. I fully expect them to bounce back against Italy.

Marcus Smith should be on the bench – his partnership with Owen Farrell is still not convincing

Anthony Watson needs to be starting – he is world class and adds experience to the backline

In terms of the forwards Ben Earl should be starting for England in place of Ben Curry

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