'His actions are showing he can stay in that team for a long time'
Pat Lam has shared his thoughts on how he feels Harry Randall performed in his first two Guinness Six Nations matches at the starting England No9. An unused sub in the opening round defeat to Scotland, the rookie Test level half-back was promoted into the starting lineup that defeated Italy and he held onto the jersey for last weekend’s round three home win over Wales.
That selection by Eddie Jones was a massive vote of confidence in the potential of Randall to become a major Test level player as the expectation was that record-breaking caps holder Ben Youngs would be restored to the England starting spot.
England have now assembled a 25-man squad in Bristol for this week’s three-day training camp ahead of the March 12 showdown with Ireland in London and Lam, who watched them go through their paces on Wednesday at Clifton College, was full of praise for the impact Randall is now making at Test level having debuted for his country in last July’s Summer Series and then missed the Autumn Nations Series through injury.
“It won’t change him as a person because he is level-headed, he is growing,” said Lam when quizzed by RugbyPass for his impression on how Randall has fared in recent weeks in the England limelight. “What I loved about what he did on the weekend was he could have easily had a Bristol Bears shirt on. I thought he gave great service to the backs.
“It was unfortunate. I had a quick bite and came back ready to watch them kick on because they had a 17-point lead and I knew roughly there would be probably another 20 minutes max that he would have because Ben Youngs would come on – and congratulations to Ben Youngs, it’s a massive career achievement to break the record.
“So I was interested to watch the next 20 minutes to see would they take off but they never got the ball. Wales had all the ball so he spent most of that time in the 20 minutes still on where the team were in defence mode and you couldn’t really see the best of Harry in that sense. But I thought first half he was class and his actions are showing he can stay in that team, in that squad, for a long time which is great. It’s what we want to see.”
What especially pleased Lam was the licence to play that England have given Randall. “Coaches and selectors choose him for what they see, the performances. To be allowed to go and use his strengths, I mean Harry has certain strengths in the way he plays. A couple of times he quicked tapped to go and the referee brought it back a couple of times.
“But it was great that he felt comfortable and Eddie has obviously have given him a licence – ‘You read it, if you think it is on you go and we will get to you and if not, don’t’. As I said at the beginning, he could easily have had his Bristol Bears jersey on because he had the confidence and the latitude granted by Eddie to be able to do his natural thing and that is what you want. You don’t want to be picked, go into the team and do something completely different.”
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