Sale flanker Curry made 23 tackles in the 32-20 win over Ireland in Dublin and was one of the first three England defenders to the breakdown on 16 occasions, with a yellow card for a late hit on Keith Earls after 13 mins the only negative statistic. Curry now has six caps – four against South Africa – and goes into the clash with France at Twickenham on Sunday as a key member of an England team that faces the biggest forward challenge in the history of the sport.
The mammoth French pack ended beaten and bemused by Wales in Paris having given up a 16-0 lead and the players have been facing criticism all week from their fans for failing to hold onto their advantage. Curry will be tasked with repeating his breakdown excellence but has to avoid the kind of late hit that earned him an early yellow card against Ireland. Decision making is crucial in Curry’s position and Diamond insists the 20-year-old is a quick learner with a huge future.
Diamond, the Sale Sharks director of rugby, said: “Tom is the man for England. He has all the physical attributes; is big, strong, has a low centre of gravity and he understands the link play. He was that involved in the game with Ireland that people will have overlooked his statistics. It was only two days later when they came out that the reaction was ‘Crickey, how much work does this kid do?’.”
“The great thing about Tom is he is a very level headed kid who understands the game really well and age is no barrier. Tom is a machine and will be annoyed about the yellow card and was probably a little bit rash. He is better than that and didn’t need to do it and no doubt Eddie Jones and John Mitchell will have spoken to him about that tackle. However it is good to see because it wasn’t a high tackle – it was a bit late and the game hasn’t changed and in the first 10-20 minutes you want to upset the opposition and he comes from that type of player who wants to make his presence felt early doors.”
Diamond has a warning of double trouble for England’s future opponents with Tom’s twin brother Ben also equipped to make a mark at test level having been robbed by injury of a first England cap against Argentina in 2017 with Tom, 18, handed the No7 jersey in San Juan to become England’s youngest debutant since Jonny Wilkinson. It meant Tom followed his uncle, former Harlequins hooker John Olver, in making his test debut against Argentina.
Diamond added: “Without doing Tom a disservice, there is another one in the family called Ben and I have no doubt he can follow Tom into test rugby and it is tough for him at the moment because his twin is getting all the headlines. Ben goes confidently and quietly about his business, remembering that he is still only 20. Eighteen months ago Ben was picked, got injured and hasn’t had a look in since and we feel for him. However, neither of them whinge or moan and just get on with things.
“We will be getting a lot more out of both of them when the mature physically over the next two or three years. By 23-years-old, Tom could have 30 or 40 caps under his belt and the beauty of this that even though there are other good back row players about, it doesn’t deter them and they just get out there and do their stuff. They are not worried about opponents in their position in the squad.”
Watch: May and Vunipola reflect on Ireland win
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