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Home > Blogs > Rupert Bates - A weekly blog from the world of rugby > Northampton's Clarke can fill England shoes
Your NewsNorthampton's Clarke can fill England shoes

Monday 23rd November 2009
Northampton's Clarke can fill England shoes

- It is easy to criticise Martin Johnson from the safety of a blog. In person I call him 'Sir'. But the lack of coaching clarity was highlighted on saturday against New Zealand in his use of substitutions.
 
Why on earth call up the belligerent young Courtney Lawes at the start of the autumn series and then after the shortest of run-outs against Australia send him back to Northampton? Louis Deacon is a Premiership lock and nothing more and certainly no impact substitution.
 
It is Lawes, who plays just within the letters of his surname, you want charging and snorting onto the Twickenham turf against the All Blacks and forcing Brad Thorn to admit 'I fought C.Lawes and C.Lawes won.'
 
And why when Mathew Tait was the one back capable of a soft shoe shuffle, rather than a thump into contact, was he just given 10 minutes at the end of the game? Ayoola Erinle, Dan Hipkiss and Matt Banahan were Bish, Bash and Bosh in the England backline. Oh for soft hands (in Banahan's case any hands) and a sublime running line.
 
Will Greenwood and Mike Catt, Jonny Wilkinson's midfield lieutenants in World Cup glory, are now both pundits and very good ones. But what modesty forbids them saying is that what England most need is a Greenwood and a Catt.
 
There is a centre at Northampton Saints called Jon Clarke, who has been horrendously unlucky with injury. Nearly four years ago in a match report for The Sunday Telegraph at Franklin's Gardens I wrote:
'Clarke is an apt name in England's shoe capital and it will surely not be long before Clarke is wearing England boots. He has a touch of Will Greenwood in his pomp about him, with his tall, angular frame, keen rugby brain and poised stance. And England could do with some midfield creativity.' Nothing much has changed and Clarke is just 26.
 
 
 
- Apologies to Scotland. Last week I deleted their match against Fiji without even watching it. I should be forced to watch their heroic defence and victory over Australia time and time again. It was not pretty and this is an average Wallabies side, but do not underestimate what this historic win could do to lift Scottish rugby. Murrayfield even found its atmosphere.
 
 
 
 
- Good to see little Shane Williams back. The Wales wing only had statues in the form of Argentine defenders to negotiate in Cardiff, but it was just nice to watch somebody enjoying himself, playing what was in front of him, having a go and not 6ft 3.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Posted by: , on November 23rd 2009 on 01:34am
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