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The England verdict on Schickerling, their Namibian-born tighthead

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Alex Davidson/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

England forwards coach Richard Cockerill has given his verdict on Patrick Schickerling, the 23-year-old uncapped Namibian-born tighthead who made eight appearances in the Championship this season for Cornish Pirates while on loan from Exeter.

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It was February 2020, just before the original lockdown shut down the 2019/20 season, that the prop made a Premiership Cup debut for Exeter and he went on to make eleven Gallagher Premiership appearances and five more in the Heineken Champions Cup this season for Rob Baxter’s side after he returned from his loan spell at Cornish at the start of the 2021/22 second-tier campaign.   

He was initially called into the England squad for last week’s three-day training camp in Teddington, a gathering that also featured uncapped Wasps tighthead Biyi Alo. 

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Will Skelton on Champions Cup celebrations and playing for the Barbarians | RugbyPass Offload | Episode 38

The big rig Will Skelton joins us from Monaco this week where he’s on tour with the Barbarians and rooming with George Kruis. He fills us in on the tour so far, hanging out at the palace with the Prince and who’s leading the charge off the pitch. We also hear about his man-of-the-match performance for La Rochelle in the Champions Cup Final, that famous open-top bus celebration and what it’s like playing for coaches like O’Gara and Cheika.

Video Spacer

Will Skelton on Champions Cup celebrations and playing for the Barbarians | RugbyPass Offload | Episode 38

The big rig Will Skelton joins us from Monaco this week where he’s on tour with the Barbarians and rooming with George Kruis. He fills us in on the tour so far, hanging out at the palace with the Prince and who’s leading the charge off the pitch. We also hear about his man-of-the-match performance for La Rochelle in the Champions Cup Final, that famous open-top bus celebration and what it’s like playing for coaches like O’Gara and Cheika.

It was Schickerling who got the call to return for this week’s match week preparations at Pennyhill to face the Barbarians, England including him as one of four tightheads in their squad along with the 20-cap Will Stuart of Bath and the two-cap pair of Harlequins’ Will Collier and Newcastle’s Trevor Davison.  

A tighthead vacancy is up for grabs with Kyle Sinckler not touring Australia this summer and the rookies behind Stuart have been jostling for attention ahead of Friday’s announcement of the team to face the Barbarians ahead of the tour squad selection. 

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Asked what impact the little-known Schickerling has made, England assistant Cockerill said: “He has come in and has worked really hard. He is pretty raw but huge amount of potential. A good lad, has a really good attitude for getting on with his work and there is a huge potential for him in the future because he has trained well, has a great attitude and that tighthead prop berth is something that we need more depth in and that is the challenge and opportunity for everyone hopefully this week. He’s good, really impressed with him.”

Schickerling has been in camp with Collier, the 31-year-old last capped by England on the 2017 Argentina tour. His form as the bedrock of the Harlequins scrum under Adam Jones was favourably commented on all season. “Will has been fantastic for Quins, probably one of the best scrummagers in the Premiership,” agreed Cockerill. 

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“He now has the opportunity to go and prove himself and push himself forward for selection, not only for the weekend but for Australia, along with Will Stuart, Trevor Davison, Schickerling.  There is an opportunity there for someone to take that role behind Will Stuart, who is going to step up and take that next role. There is obviously Joe Heyes (of Leicester) potentially to come back in there. 

“It’s starting to build a bit of depth in that position and it’s down to those guys then to take the opportunity them isn’t it and really grasp it and force themselves into that squad for Australia and into the next 18 months to the World Cup.”

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Shaylen 4 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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J
Jon 10 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Ioane is going to be more than good enough to lock up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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