At Wasps we’ve long known Elliot Daly was a genius on the field. His ability to beat defenders, his outside arc with the afterburners on, his side step, and his offloads have been the source of much admiration for years. And his uncanny ability to slot over place kicks from further away than anyone would believe possible is the stuff of legend. So when he finally made it into the England set up no-one was at all surprised.
What is a surprise however is how he seems to flit from one position to another without seeming to cause himself any problems at all. Center? No problem. Wing? A doddle. Even packing down in the scrum at one stage. But despite that everyone seems to be saying that it is at fullback with 15 on his shirt that he will eventually find his home.
The Wasps discussion forums are full of debates about what his best position is, and therefore where we at Wasps, and Eddie Jones’s England should actually be playing him. But the fact that no-one can agree shows one thing perfectly clearly.
Elliot Daly is a player who can make his natural abilities with the ball fit in any number of positions. The only thing that matters is that he does indeed play. And after his astonishing try saving chase followed almost immediately by a match winning try of his own against Wales it seems that that is not going to be up for debate for some time.
But that does tend to leave those charged with putting names on a teamsheet with a bit of a headache.
Where the hell do you actually play him?
It seems to me at least that the current England approach is to fill the rest of the back line and then to slot Elliot Daly into whichever position is left. Though whatever you think of such an approach it is hard to claim it isn’t working for England. Whether it will work quite so well for Wasps it is hard to say, but as we’re currently sitting top of the Premiership it’s hard to argue.
I strongly suspect that one of the other things that makes him such a perfect fit for Jones’s England is his natural abrasiveness. The very aspect of his character that had him sent off and further cited for abusing an official during a particularly torrid match for Wasps is the thing that Jones seems to seek out in his players. He likes players who care, and who translate that into action on the pitch. Players who will bring their aggression with them onto the pitch. Hartley, Brown, Farrell, Care, are all prime examples of this, and it is a mould Elliot Daly fits perfectly.
If only there was a position that fitted him quite as well.