England have named their squad for their final match of the Guinness Six Nations against Ireland on Saturday, and there is a lot of sympathy for Paolo Odogwu, who misses out again.
After such an impressive win over France last week, Eddie Jones was never going to make wholesale changes for this match. While there is not a Championship at stake at the Aviva Stadium, both sides have built some momentum after last week and will be intent on redeeming themselves after disappointing opening rounds.
But the calf injury to Henry Slade this week provided an opportunity for Odogwu to work his way into the matchday squad and earn his first cap as a player who can cover outside centre and the wing.
Instead, Elliot Daly has moved from the bench to No13, while the recently called-up Joe Marchant takes his place on the bench alongside Ollie Lawrence over the Wasps man. Having not been in the initial Six Nations squad, Marchant’s fasttrack into the matchday squad over Odogwu has proven to be the most controversial.
This once again has raised questions as to why the 24-year-old Odogwu was called up in the first place, and subsequently not released back to his club, as he has now not played a match in over two months after being in such electric form.
While he has been given the experience of being in the England training camp, some feel more importantly that has meant he was deprived of being in the Italian camp, as he qualifies for both countries. Then again, without capping him there is no reason why the winger does not switch allegiance to the Azzurri, as Scotland’s Cameron Redpath did this Championship and many others have done before.
With a British and Irish Lions tour in the summer, there will be plenty of chances for fringe players like Odogwu to be capped. But for many, that opportunity was against Italy after a dismal loss to Scotland, or against France last week after the defeat against Wales, or indeed this week after Slade’s injury.
The fact that England have shown a vast improvement throughout the Championship perhaps vindicates Jones’ decision to avoid being trigger-happy with his changes, but Odogwu has been the unlucky victim of that policy.
I feel so sorry for Paolo Odogwu. He’s been in the England camp for the entire tournament but hasn’t played a minute of rugby since January. I understand players need to learn and get use to international camps, but why include him if he was never going to play? ????? #SixNations
— Katy Homewood (@_katyhomewood) March 18, 2021
If I was Odogwu I’d be absolutely fuming. Not even 5 minutes off the bench against Italy. Did Eddie actually want him or just not want the Italians to have him?
— Nathan Wake (@nathan_wake) March 18, 2021
So exactly what was the point of calling in Paulo Odogwu for 2 months and having him play 0 rugby?#EddieAreYouOK
— Jarrod Dyke (50% of #TFRY Podcast) (@jdyke8man) March 18, 2021
What was the point of Odogwu being in camp?!
— Steve Lea (@Stephen_Lea) March 18, 2021
Odogwu has really been mugged off
— WillK (@WillKettel) March 18, 2021
No point in calling Odogwu up then if Marchant goes straight onto the bench… ??
— George (@gcfarrer) March 18, 2021
So now you can see Eddie picked Odogwu only so Italy couldn't. Takes 99% of the other players to be injured to play Daly in his correct position.
Don't get me wrong, I'll back England every time they play but I can't wait until this guy is no longer the head coach… https://t.co/vVTuWPfhpq
— George H (@georgeheminway) March 18, 2021
You can’t help but feel for @notoriousPCO today. The bloke was called up to the MAIN England squad, he hasn’t played a single game and now they’ve called up (the, in his defence, always excellent) @JoeMarchant96 from the shadow squad rather than giving him an opportunity… shame https://t.co/gfLCrRNTVi
— Mike Edwards (@_Edwards_Mike) March 18, 2021
Why bother having Odugwo in the squad if your not going to play him..no issue with Daly.fetting a crack in his natural position but bringing in a player from outside the squad..? https://t.co/HIpseVdI4j
— Sir Septimus Pyecroft (@SirPyecroft) March 18, 2021
Also, it’s now so transparent that Odogwu was only selected because Italy were sniffing around. Expecting to see him do a Redpath and star against England in a few years’ time.
Potentially the same with Randall ? pic.twitter.com/D644tO0V9B
— The Travelling Reserve (@TravelReserve) March 18, 2021
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