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After five years, Elliot Daly is finally back in his 'actual position'

By Josh Raisey

Trending on RugbyPass

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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After five years, Elliot Daly is finally back in his 'actual position'

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