Pundit Maggie Alphonsi is one of many people who have said that Elliot Daly’s best position is outside centre after he was handed his first start there for England since 2016.
Daly replaces the injured Henry Slade for the final round of the Guinness Six Nations against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium after being on the bench last week against France. Joe Marchant also joins Ollie Lawrence on the bench as the two outside back options.
Daly is one player who has faced some criticism this Six Nations for his performances, and his demotion to the bench was a sign that Jones was willing to drop an ‘undroppable’, but his return to the starting XV has also been welcomed.
Slade will be missed. He was instrumental last weekend. Gutted for Lawrence. I would of liked to of seen him start in the centres. He’s a solid defender and strong ball carrier, but Daly at 13 also works. I still think 13 is his best position! https://t.co/9x176fX34I
— Maggie Alphonsi MBE (@MaggieAlphonsi) March 18, 2021
Daly to 13 in the place of the injured Slade. Great wheels but also likes to make the odd defensive read. Will make it a great match up with Henshaw, I presume. https://t.co/3dGnZd95Ck
— Brian O'Driscoll (@BrianODriscoll) March 18, 2021
Almost every England selection over the past four years has been met with calls for Eddie Jones to play Daly in his perceived strongest position. Those calls have finally been met so there is understandably a frisson of excitement over this selection.
Outside centre has long been seen as the 28-year-old’s favoured position, despite only starting there once in his 51 England appearances, which was his first Test start in 2016. Jones may have fashioned him into a back three player, as have Saracens since his move in 2019, but he made his name at the beginning of his career in the No13 shirt for Wasps. It is only because he is such a well rounded player that he has been used to plug any holes needed in the England back line, and that is effectively what he is doing again this weekend by filling in for the Exeter man.
The Saracen is not a like-for-like replacement for Slade, but what he does provide that Lawrence, Marchant or even Paolo Odogwu do not, is a similar strong left boot, which is a key weapon for England, particularly when attacking on the left flank with Jonny May outside.
While neither side this Saturday stands a chance of winning the Six Nations, there is always a lot to play for, particularly in a British and Irish Lions year. An accomplished performance at outside centre could show Warren Gatland what a valuable asset Daly is in a squad, and will do his selection chances no harm.
Good to see Daly back in his best position, hopefully can show his form where he's clearly more comfortable
— AdamStr (@ajstr17) March 18, 2021
Daly always was a 13 and a very good one at wasps and I always wanted him to have a chance there. I hope he remembers how to play there as it has been a long time! What was the point in having Paolo in with you if when there is a chance you pluck Marchant out instead?
— Dan Nulty (@NultyDan) March 18, 2021
Daly at 13 is something I’ve wanted to see for years. He got his Lions call and his first England cap based on form for Wasps when playing at 13. He was never a Winger and never a Full Back.
— Coner Towle (@TowleConer) March 18, 2021
Great to see Daly in his actual position. Hope he goes well.
— Paulyboy (@_infinitejest) March 18, 2021
I think Daly in at 13 is a great call. Natural 13, can play the same role as Slade, runs good lines and still gives them a left footed kicking option https://t.co/BDsejCkuGr
— Will Owen (@will_owen9) March 18, 2021
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