Lewis Moody: Joseph's call-up shows Lancaster is not afraid to gamble on talent

Moody views

Stuart Lancaster has shown that he is prepared to be bold with the introduction of Jonathan Joseph at centre. As he showed in the midweek match at Kimberley he is an exciting talent and, although it is considered a risk in this environment, it will be interesting to see how he handles the step up.

The coach obviously recognised a need for change. I have no problem with that. The back line did not function as it should in the first Test and the kicking out of hand definitely needs improving, but I do not agree with the demotion of Owen Farrell.

He had a bad day at the office last week but he is still a fantastic prospect for England and I'm sure he will deal with the disappointment of being the only player dropped to the bench in the same manner that he has dealt with everything else in his short international career – with a level head and a determination to get back in the side.

Joseph offers a very different attacking threat to Manu Tuilagi and Brad Barritt, and it is good to see the return of Toby Flood at 10 and David Strettle on the wing. Hopefully Flood's selection will add a bit of experience and as a result steady the ship in that area of the pitch as well as improving the quality of our kicking game.

In rugby there are numerous ways of using the kick, particularly the box kick. If you are under sustained pressure you are going to box kick it straight out as far as you can so you get to a set-piece and regroup. Or, as more teams do, you are going to box kick to compete with the intention of getting it back.

That is what South Africa did well and we did poorly. Whether it was from fly-half or scrum-half we didn't get the ball close enough to our players to be able to compete in the air or on the ground. That gave Bryan Habana and Zane Kirchner a lot of opportunities to run. Give Habana an opportunity to run and he is going to take it, which he did.

The scrum-halves and fly-halves spend a lot of time on their kicking. Whether the rest of the team spend as much time on the chase, working on the box kick, making sure which individuals are involved in the chase, is another matter. If you lose your key chasers and you are not sure who is doing the chase you end up giving the ball straight back.

On a positive note, England dealt with the high balls that were raining down on them all game incredibly well. I loved the spirit in this side, the way they defended, the manner in which we stayed within a score of South Africa throughout the majority of the game, even though it looked like they might run away with it.

There were opportunities to kick at goal that South Africa turned down in favour of a lineout or a scrum because they thought they could finish the English off. It was to the great credit of the English defence that they kept South Africa out. They could have been a further 12 points ahead had they chosen to take the penalties.

A lot of those came from the scrum, which was a bit of a surprise. We have a great coach in Graham Rowntree and always have a fantastic scrum. By no means were the pack dominated but we did give away silly penalties that on another day might prove more costly.

In the lineout I felt England were superior to South Africa. England won all their own ball and it was unfortunate that we couldn't keep the pressure on as we wanted to. That said, if you look at the number of sorties into their half, we took good points every time we got into their 22. We just didn't do it often enough and that is one of the areas England will be looking at – how to break down the South African defence better and create some real opportunities.

But we have to maintain some perspective. The expectations were high on the basis of what England achieved in the Six Nations. But the reality is this team is in the early stages of its development. If we allow the players to learn without heaping too much pressure on them, without being too negative when they lose, then we have a chance of making progress.

The next two games will be tough but they will be massive learning experiences mentally and physically. To come away from a three-Test series against the toughest opposition the game has to offer on its own turf will help mould this unit into a better team.

The lessons learned will be huge. The reality is that at international level you have to accept that you can't win every game.

We must keep the ball better and longer

When we are in possession we need to keep hold of the ball for longer periods. We need to create sustained pressure and you can only do that by having the ball. Whether we do that like South Africa do by bashing away, putting up high kicks etc, is something I'm sure the coaches will have worked on.

The kicking game needs to improve significantly in the rest of the series. We need to come up with some options. That doesn't mean re-inventing the wheel, just making kicks contestable.

They will also have made some adjustments to the scrum. South Africa are a very physical, well-drilled set-piece side. Though England have always been strong in the scrum that is an area we need to address. The defence has been impressive – really stoic at times – so that does not worry me in the slightest. What I would like to see, however, is for the defence to get off the line that bit quicker and not allow their runners as many opportunities to carry the ball. Let's knock them back a bit quicker, stop them at source.

At Kimberley the boys absorbed so many tackles that they almost blew themselves out and in the last 20 minutes South Africa had more opportunities as a result.

It's attitude not altitude

The altitude of Johannesburg makes it harder for the opposition. I'm not saying it makes a huge difference in terms of points, but it is a factor.

International rugby is hard wherever you play it. You are going to be on the edge in any location, but South Africa are used to playing at altitude and benefit from an improved base fitness level.

Theoretically the ball moves further and quicker through the air, something South Africa will not have to adapt to as it is familiar to them. But this England team will display huge heart and spirit, as they have throughout.

Lewis Moody is a TAG Heuer ambassador; TAG Heuer is the official watch of England Rugby.

 

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen