Although England are heading into a Rugby World Cup semi-final against the All Blacks this Saturday, there are still calls from fans for Eddie Jones to move Elliot Daly from fullback and switch him with Anthony Watson on the wing.
This has been a consistent demand from fans since Watson’s return, as the Saracens-bound back is yet to win over all fans. While many will agree that he needs to be on the field, fullback does not necessarily seem to be the most popular option.
However, a stat from OptaJonny suggests that Jones does not have the same opinion of the utility back, as the 27-year-old has only missed 80 minutes of rugby since the summer tour of South Africa in 2018.
Excluding the RWC warm-up match against Italy, Daly has started at fullback every match, and has played every minute since June 2018.
1,520 – Since the start of England's summer tour against the @Springboks in June 2018, @elliotdaly has missed just 80 minutes of action for @EnglandRugby (v Italy in September 2019), playing 1,520 out of a possible 1,600 minutes. Central. pic.twitter.com/6mqDMnTBoi
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) October 21, 2019
Although he was primarily deployed as a winger during the start of his England career, an Achilles injury to Anthony Watson in the final game of the 2018 Six Nations forced Jones to turn to Daly in the 15 shirt. There were other options at fullback, with Mike Brown still in the squad, as well as Jack Nowell, who can also play there, however, Jones stuck by Daly, and even opted to play Brown on the wing against the Springboks.
Watson made his return to international rugby this August, and while he did start at fullback in the sole game that Daly missed against Italy, he has been used on the wing.
What is clear is that Jones has had plenty of opportunities over the past 18 months to try out a different fullback, or even revert to his former system with Daly on the wing, but he has not. It would be an absolute aberration if he made this change on the eve of the biggest match of his tenure.
RugbyPass went off the beaten track to an iconic Maid Cafe in Akihabara, Tokyo.
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