Lewis Moody: For an idea of where England are headed, just look at Wales now


It might have made ominous viewing for any England fan watching Wales cut through Scotland on Sunday – but I looked at it differently. Where Wales happen to be now, I think England will be in a few years' time. So let's just call their magnificent form a snapshot of our own future.

Not that I subscribe to the view that winning the Triple Crown at Twickenham next week will be a formality for Warren Gatland's men. Anything but. I think it will be a tight game, which may come down to a single score. But it will be a massive challenge for England, because this is a very dangerous Wales team. To my mind, they are reaping the benefits of integrating the youngsters over the last few seasons.

Indeed, let's turn it around and say England are now where Wales were two or three years ago. Everyone is saying we need to see some attacking flair from Stuart Lancaster's team and, of course, we all want that. But I don't think the critics appreciate how long it can take to gel a side together. We are in the very early stages of the process. Contrast this with the Welsh. The likes of Leigh Halfpenny, Sam Warburton, Jonathan Davies and now George North and Alex Cuthbert have been fed in slowly. You only need to look at their back row or back three to understand the strides they have made. Dan Lydiate is the oldest back-row member at 24, but with Toby Faletau alongside Warburton that is a rock-solid combination. Clearly, the exciting thought for Wales is that this established trio is so young that, fitness willing, they'll be around a long, long time.

Now look at their back three. Who would ever have thought they could have coped so comfortably with the recent retirement of Shane Williams? But then, Halfpenny was blooded for a few years, making him so experienced and, with Williams and others such as Lee Byrne, he helped bring on the likes of North and Cuthbert. At 23, Halfpenny is the oldest of this Welsh back three. It's remarkable really and testimony to the Welsh coaching staff's faith in youth. To my mind, England must show the same, too, and we all must recognise it will take a little time.

Halfpenny is the only member of the current back line who is under 6ft and weighs less than 15st. But what these backs have in size, they don't lack for in pace. We have known about Jamie Roberts for a long time, but then it was all about North going into the Scotland game. And what happens? Cuthbert on the other wing has a stormer. Like North, Cuthbert is an out-and-out athlete and a product of this professional age. When they arrive at their clubs as teenagers they are already fully conditioned. They hit the ground running with tremendous velocity.