Eddie Jones’ England squad to face Italy this Saturday was always going to cause debate after such a poor showing against Scotland.
The Australian had two options, either make wholesale changes and include in-form players, which seems to be a popular option online, or back his experienced players to gel after a disjointed and listless Calcutta Cup display.
He opted for the latter, and though that has not been entirely well received, it is understandable. By bringing Mako Vunipola, Kyle Sinckler, Courtney Lawes and George Ford to the starting XV for Saturday, he has reverted to the players he trusts most to work the team out of the rut they appear to be in.
Mark Wilson and Ollie Lawrence are the two starters from last week that have dropped out of the squad completely, and there is a lot of sympathy for the two.
The Worcester Warriors centre appears to be the cruellest victim of Jones’ axe in the eyes of fans, pundits and former players. In a rare dalliance at inside centre the 21-year-old’s game was notoriously quiet, with his only carry of the entire game, for zero metres, coming after 60 minutes.
But in an England team that seem to be hardwired to not pass nor play with any semblance of width, Lawrence can hardly be blamed for this performance. The onus could fall on him to find more action in attack, but the majority of people think the players inside him have let him down on this occasion.
With only three starts to his name so far against Georgia, Ireland and Scotland, Lawrence has only been involved in turgid, defensive or downright deplorable performances; now being dropped is a rough start to a Test career.
The match against Italy has traditionally been Jones’ chance to shake things up and experiment with new combinations and players, perhaps a better platform to trial Lawrence at No12. But he can ill-afford to do so on this occasion and now seeks to instill some confidence, and even fitness, to what is close to his favoured XV. In an unfair twist for England fans, Lawrence is the unlucky omission.
Good to see Cowan-Dickie get a shot. Thought Lawrence may have kept his jersey tho, against ITA he could of thrived. Thought Wilson may have been on the bench at the very least too. Good to see Willis included tho. Hope to see him and Earl get a run out together on the flanks. https://t.co/4YiE78oIbp
— Maggie Alphonsi MBE (@MaggieAlphonsi) February 11, 2021
So they drop Ollie Lawrence who only got given the ball once by Farrell and put Faz in at 12….how long have Eddie and Faz been sleeping together? Hopefully Ford doesn’t abide by the kick first mentality so our backs can actually play this time?? https://t.co/6RfE4sMTF9
— Sam Shaw (@sja_shaw) February 11, 2021
That’s rough on Lawrence. Perfect game for him to show what he’s capable of. Would have been nice to see Randall on the bench.
— Ellie Thomas (@Ellie2001thomas) February 11, 2021
I don’t know how Lawrence was dropped he wasn’t even given the chance to play bad and for some reason we now have another saracens player but I’m the front row. I’m genuinely scared we might lose to Italy
— lewis_no.11 (@lewr05) February 11, 2021
Love Eddie, but he’s sent such a poor message here. Axe has fallen on two players in Lawrence and Wilson whilst the sarries players (who were comfortably the worst on the pitch this weekend) retain their places. Billy and Daly HAD to be dropped. #ENGvITA #SixNations #englandrugby
— Ryan O’Connor (@roconnor77) February 11, 2021
Poor O Lawrence, put in a few big hits, didn’t get the ball at 12, imagine a 12 not getting the ball until 60+minutes, then dropped.
— Bangkokrugby (@BenjaminJRawson) February 11, 2021
On a hugely positive note great to see LCD start he’s the future not George. Wilson and Lawrence have been made scape goats … Billy V, Youngs and Daly had to be dropped to for their own good ? @jollygibbo
— Sam Gibbons (@SamGibbons89) February 11, 2021
Why keep picking Lawrence, never give him the ball and then drop him for Ford because Farrell had (another) crap game at fly half?????
— Crutch (@crutch7779) February 11, 2021
Lawrence dropped. You’ve got to laugh really ?
Forza Italia https://t.co/8lwJ4nDXGk
— Worcester Faithful (@WorcsFaithful) February 11, 2021
– 6-2 bench split.
– No Randall or Odogwu against our weakest opponents.
– Lawrence dropped after a game where he never got a chance to show what’s he’s all about.
Eddie has been brilliant over the years but this is uninspiring and frustrating as he always picks his favourites
— George Uppington (@uppy89) February 11, 2021
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