Eddie Jones has made two changes to his starting XV to face Wales on Saturday from the one that beat Italy in round two, with Jamie George replacing Luke Cowan-Dickie and Mark Wilson replacing Courtney Lawes.
Of these two changes, one is not enforced, as Lawes would probably have started had he not succumbed to an injury.
But Jones’ decision to revert back to George is an interesting twist in the ongoing battle between the two hookers.
The Australian fielded a strong XV against Italy in the hope that the team would find some rhythm and allow some potentially rusty Saracens players to work their way back up to speed after a long absence.
Cowan-Dickie’s presence in that side represented a potential shift in the power struggle between the No2s. George, like many of his Saracens teammates, may have needed the game time against Italy, but Jones had an alternative who has been England’s premier hooker on a domestic level over the past year.
Cowan-Dickie’s selection looked to be far more significant than simply addressing a potential blip in form by the Saracen.
After dominating English and European rugby with Exeter and being nominated for European player of the year (not that that has swayed England selectors in the past), he was earning only his fourth start in 28 Tests. Regardless of Geroge’s form in recent weeks, or even the past year, many felt the Exeter man deserved his starting berth.
To some, this looked like a sign of things to come, so his immediate return to the bench has been questioned. His performance against Italy was not worthy of being dropped, and his form over the past 18 months has been faultless, which helps to explain why there is such surprise that he is a ‘Finisher’ once again.
The Chiefs No2 may be more dangerous in the final half hour than George would be, and while that is a point that is consistently hammered home by the England coach, most would want the better player playing the larger portion.
Jones’ decision to stick with largely the same team has been met with rancour this Six Nations, but it is easy to understand why he has done so. The hooker debate has more layers to it, however, and goes back further than this Six Nations alone.
Genuine query. Why is Cowan-Dickie back on the bench? Really interested in proper rugby analytical answers.
— Steve Parrett (@Steve_Parrett) February 25, 2021
I don’t get this! Why all the Sarries? Itoje aside they all look badly off the pace. LCD just looks more formidable than George at the moment and we really, really, really need to blood in some young talent before it’s too late!
— “Cannonball” Taffy O’Smoke (@TheLondonSmoke) February 25, 2021
I’d have Robson and Cowan Dickie in. Those Saracens boys going to have to put massive performances in to save Eddie. Suppose least they played 2 games of rugby now, might be closer to speed of game.
— Robson Green (@RobsonGreen7) February 25, 2021
Why drop Luke Cowan Dickie? Best player last time out?
— Price (@jp_1985) February 25, 2021
I’d say Cowan-Dickie and Robson are the in form players at Hooker & Scrum Half.
— NigeH64 ? ??????????? (@nige_h64) February 25, 2021
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