Five debating points with the world's best up next for England


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The Independent Online


Five tries shared by the wings Charlie Sharples and Ugo Monye, and the outside centre Manu Tuilagi, were nice statistics for England's new attacking skills coach Mike Catt to cite but prop Dan Cole will be red-faced at being held up by two tiny opponents. His fellow front-rower Joe Marler threw a hopeless pass when there was a try on for Brad Barritt.

Possible changes

Chris Ashton is almost certain to return on the wing after suspension, which could be bad news for Monye, but Courtney Lawes, the lock, is likely to make a comeback from injury for his club Northampton rather than against Australia for England, who will also keep an eye on prop Alex Corbisiero's re-emergence for London Irish today. Among yesterday's subs Joe Launchbury, Tom Wood and Mako Vunipola did themselves no harm.

Front five

Maybe the enforcers of yesteryear are an extinct species everywhere but while the barrel-chested low-slung Tom Youngs piles forward effectively, as does Marler and Vunipola, there is a feeling that England lack a Mr Nasty in the tight five. They will need a belligerent edge when the Springboks hit Twickenham on Saturday week. That's why Lawes in particular is missed.


A problem solved by the selection of Alex Goode at full-back? The Saracen certainly offers a sweet pass and a visionary eye, and shared the creative load with fly-half Toby Flood that must have felt like a comfort blanket to the Leicester man. Time will tell whether it is enough against the best to compensate for the straight-up-and-down predictability of Barritt and Tuilagi as the centres. The injured London Irish centre Jonathan Joseph may be the answer.

England re-connecting

Mustering a near-as-makes no difference packed crowd at Twickenham was an amazing effort considering the weakness of the opposition and the recession. Three more full houses in the next three weeks will be a valuable 16th man – and the supporters' rowdy backing suggests that Stuart Lancaster's mission to remind the players of their responsibilities to their followers and the game is really chiming with the paying public.