After impressing in the Autumn Internationals with a couple of well timed dummies, and a perfectly timed quick tap and go penalty it seems Ben Youngs had cemented his claim to the England scrum half shirt. But I’d like to suggest that all is not as secure as it initially seems.
So far for the RBS Six Nations Youngs has started at scrum half against France and Wales, and Danny Care has come off the bench. And it is at this point that we have seen a noticeable step up in the performance of the team. In both games we have looked to be struggling to put the opposition away for the first three quarters of the game, only to secure it in the last fifteen minutes. This, at least in my opinion, is at least partly due to Youngs. Care brings something Youngs simply does not have. Whether that is flair, speed, an ability to read the game, or simply faster distribution he is obviously better at driving the team than Youngs is.
Care is clearly faster at getting the ball back into play at the breakdown, even if Youngs box kicks are marginally better as a rule. But, and this is a very big but indeed, there are two scrum halves who could do a much better job, and luckily for Wasps, they both play for us.
Joe Simpson was all set to finally improve on his single solitary cap last year in the Six Nations, but an ankle injury against Leinster that required surgery put paid to any chances he had. He recovered and was all set to take part in the GB Rugby Sevens squad at the Olympics when a second major injury dashed his hopes yet again.
However the injuries themselves have not stopped him from showing his incredible skill. His ability to read the field is brilliant, and his experience give him an edge few others have. He has astonishing pace, even by the standards of the backline at Wasps, and his box kicking is certainly way ahead of either Youngs or Care.
However he isn’t a shoe in at Wasps for a starting spot at scrum half, because of our other freakish talent. Dan Robson.
Dan probably isn’t quite as quick in a straight footrace as Joe, but the speed of his distribution is lightning fast. He might not have the experience Joe has, but his natural flair as a footballer more than makes up for it. His vision, and ability to make the right call under the greatest of pressure was exactly what kept Wasps in the European Challenge Cup, with a fantastic quick tap and go of his own leading to a match winning try in the dying moments of the game against Toulouse.
So Eddie, if you are reading this (and let’s face it why wouldn’t you be?) and you want a Scrum Half who has solid skills with the ball, the ability to read the match, and has something special about him, then please drop Youngs and come and take a look at one of our boys?
Or even better, get Joe starting, and then bring Dan on for the last 20 minutes to finish the game and close it out.