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Sam Underhill
Discussion started by Rugby360 (IP Logged), 11 July, 2019 16:38
Rugby360
Rugby360
11 July, 2019 16:38

BathMatt53
BathMatt53
11 July, 2019 16:46
I wouldn't put Underhill as a breakdown specialist and Eddie certainly won't turn away from his huge number 6 options (Lawes or Itoje) imo.



[Adoptee 19 / 20: The High ball and counter attack meister, Tom Homer]

P G Tips
P G Tips
11 July, 2019 16:54
Maybe not against Argentina or France Matt- Eddie's innate conservatism would probably warn against that - but quite possibly against USA or Tonga?

I could certainly see him experiment with it.

PG

BathMatt53
BathMatt53
11 July, 2019 17:28
I'm not sure PG - the time for experimentation was well before now!

I think that if BV is rested he would move Wilson to 8 and put Brad Shields at 6. Otherwise he will have Wilson at 6.



[Adoptee 19 / 20: The High ball and counter attack meister, Tom Homer]

MESSAGES->author
shipwrecked
11 July, 2019 17:36
Quote:
BathMatt53
I'm not sure PG - the time for experimentation was well before now!
I think that if BV is rested he would move Wilson to 8 and put Brad Shields at 6. Otherwise he will have Wilson at 6.

I'm not sure EJ even sees it as an experiment, Itoje and Lawes play 6, I could easily see SU, TC, MW as a back row.



https://i.ibb.co/Fz0bC3q/Unknown-1.jpg


Beno Obano Age 24 years, Loosehead prop, 5ft 8ins 18st 12lbs 'Mauls are like Transformers' they change form to become more powerful!

sirtidychris
sirtidychris
11 July, 2019 19:57
Doesn't give you much of a lineout option, need someone with a bit of height at 6 and or 8, with Billy, curry, underhill, Wilson all being not tall by lineout standards I can see why shields and itoje are in the mix at 6. BUT Inline with every RWC manager since 2003 after 3 years of learning your best team you will get to the world cup and panic with some mental selections.

Bath Hammer
Bath Hammer
12 July, 2019 00:02
Befoehe joined us Underhill was hailed as this amazing break down specialist but I havenít seen it.

MESSAGES->author
joethefanatic
12 July, 2019 00:27
Quote:
Bath Hammer
Befoehe joined us Underhill was hailed as this amazing break down specialist but I havenít seen it.

That was because we bulked him up and turned him into a 6 (generously a 6.5). But he's added a carrying game and so I can see him and either of the Curries playing on the flanks for England. The bigger question is who plays 8 if Billy gets broken.



... IMHO, of course.

Now in Honolulu

BathMatt53
BathMatt53
12 July, 2019 04:27
Only 1 Curry is picked in the squad I think. Wilson has to be the replacement 8.



[Adoptee 19 / 20: The High ball and counter attack meister, Tom Homer]

MESSAGES->author
joethefanatic
12 July, 2019 07:08
Quote:
BathMatt53
Only 1 Curry is picked in the squad I think. Wilson has to be the replacement 8.

I get "really* nervous about part time 8s. It's as much a specialist position as 2, 9 or 15 and just as critical to a team functioning smoothly. I don't think it is one you can job-share with being a 6, especially at a RWC. I'd have 2 real specialists and I wouldn't regard Nathan Hughes as being either of them.



... IMHO, of course.

Now in Honolulu

MESSAGES->author
shipwrecked
12 July, 2019 07:48
Quote:
Bath Hammer
Befoehe joined us Underhill was hailed as this amazing break down specialist but I havenít seen it.

No, I don't think that was right at all, he was hailed as a fast destructive tackler working in conjunction with Tipuric who was the breakdown specialist.



https://i.ibb.co/Fz0bC3q/Unknown-1.jpg


Beno Obano Age 24 years, Loosehead prop, 5ft 8ins 18st 12lbs 'Mauls are like Transformers' they change form to become more powerful!

sirtidychris
sirtidychris
12 July, 2019 08:35
Quote:
joethefanatic
Quote:
BathMatt53
Only 1 Curry is picked in the squad I think. Wilson has to be the replacement 8.

I get "really* nervous about part time 8s. It's as much a specialist position as 2, 9 or 15 and just as critical to a team functioning smoothly. I don't think it is one you can job-share with being a 6, especially at a RWC. I'd have 2 real specialists and I wouldn't regard Nathan Hughes as being either of them.

100% agree 8 is specialist position, wilson, shields etc playing there will just mean they knock on at the back of the scrum when we are 5m out, you see it time and time again with stand ins. I think the Hughes/Dombrandt/Morgan/Mercer ommission is a huge risk you can have and 8 play 6 but dont think at top flight you can have a 6/7 play 8 (unless they do so regularly at club level)

Omba
Omba
12 July, 2019 09:04
Quote:
shipwrecked
Quote:
Bath Hammer
Befoehe joined us Underhill was hailed as this amazing break down specialist but I havenít seen it.

No, I don't think that was right at all, he was hailed as a fast destructive tackler working in conjunction with Tipuric who was the breakdown specialist.

I was of this view too

Sara'sman
Sara'sman
12 July, 2019 09:58
Over the years I've read a great number of posts about the special skillsets required in each back row position but never one that has defined them. As a former (original?) 7.5 I'm genuinely curious to understand what others believe to be these specific skillsets. I'd also like to offer a few thoughts.

Billy is not particularly good at controlling the ball at the base; his muscular, short legs don't help him and I've seen him lose control all too often. Of course when, as is more often the case, he does control it, his powerful running off the scrum is a great threat. It is not so much control that lets down those not used to playing there, more the threats posed by opposition SH and flanker upon the pick.

Exeter are often rightly praised for their impressive Back Row of Ewers, Armand, and Kvesic (a better 7.5!) none of whom, in my view, play a conventional role for the number they often wear: for example Ewers doesn't have the work rate of a 6, Armand the speed of a 7, Kvesic the power of an 8. What they do have is what I believe to be the important qualities of Back Rows - a balance in skills (and in their case particular skills that fit in well with Exeter's unique gameplan).

I'd suggest that amongst the Back Row we want:
* A good engine/workrate to do the hard graft (6)
* A strong third lineout option (6/8) [For Sarries a 2nd and 3rd when Skelton plays]
* A speedy individual (7)
* A threat at the breakdown (nowadays most jackals involve two players) (7)
* A strong carrier (8)
* A good reader of the game in attack (7) and defence (8) all-round (6)
* Good hands to link play (7)
* Strong tacklers (7 with speed, 8 with strength, 6 with mix of both)
And more I'm sure! I've included the "conventional" holder of each skill though in truth we hope that as many as possible possess each skill!

My longwinded point is that I'd suggest a Back Row is more about balance and covering all bases, not simply individual positional skills; Wilson, Curry/Underhill, Vunipola are much better balanced than most English trios since our Famed Three, largely because Wilson adds the combination of power, engine and decent pace that our backrows with Robshaw (and I'm a huge fan of his) so obviously lacked. I suspect we will rotate Curry and Underhill rather than play both, partly of necessity due to the punishment their bodies take with the role they play. Without Billy we're likely to see Wilson at 8, Itoje/Lawes at 6, gaining in the lineout, losing a little in pace, altering the balance of mobility.

John Tee
John Tee
12 July, 2019 12:55
I thought BV made us quite predictable and liked the backrow balance we had in SA when he was injured.
I think we might have to get used to that anyway as I'm think he will be broken in this rwc anyway...so at least we need to get used to someone there.
I'd have Wilson and Currie with Morgan over Hughes.
No problem picking BV but he needs to stay fit

SarrieSaint
SarrieSaint
16 July, 2019 09:53
Quote:
sirtidychris
100% agree 8 is specialist position, wilson, shields etc playing there will just mean they knock on at the back of the scrum when we are 5m out, you see it time and time again with stand ins. I think the Hughes/Dombrandt/Morgan/Mercer ommission is a huge risk you can have and 8 play 6 but dont think at top flight you can have a 6/7 play 8 (unless they do so regularly at club level)

Point of order, Mercer isn't a proper 8 and has just the control issues you mention from the base of the scrum when he's played there. Agree 100$ on the general point though. Worth noting that Wilson has already covered well for England at 8 but I'd be much happier with a "proper" 8 there. Dombrandt isn't yet trusted by Quins to play there so its almost certainly too soon for England. Leaves Morgan and Hughes. I'd take Morgan but would be happy with either over neither!

MESSAGES->author
hasta
16 July, 2019 21:10
Ok, I wouldn't pick Mercer for this England squad, but the idea that he's not a 'proper' number 8 is nonsense. He's not Billy, but no one else is. He is very much in the mold (size, shape, skillset) without having the experience of Parisse and Reid.

SarrieSaint
SarrieSaint
16 July, 2019 21:58
Fair point hasta. Had my England head on where we tend to look for a direct carrying option.

Mercer might work well in an Exeter or Quins type backrow where Ewers/Dombrandt at 6 will perform that role.

Jones has shown little consideration for the balance of the backrow and successive 8s have been asked to do their best impression of Billy. Hughes with some success, Clifford and Simmonds with little. Mercer trying to play like Billy would have me watching from behind the sofa with both hands over my eyes. Despite his size he still gets regularly gets bullied in contact.


For me he's a 6 right now unless a gameplan or backrow balance allows him at 8.

MESSAGES->author
shipwrecked
16 July, 2019 22:30
Quote:
SarrieSaint
Despite his size he still gets regularly gets bullied in contact.
For me he's a 6 right now unless a gameplan or backrow balance allows him at 8.

That is a fundamental issue you have highlighted there, there are 2 ways to go forward, busting a hole or going past players. What many people don't get about Mercer is his read of the game and his footwork. I used to wonder why he did so little sometimes but he choses his moment. He doesn't make holes like BV or NH but he does go forward.

What's more he doesn't get people going past him in defence either. I don't see him as a 6, he is better at 8.

EJ doesn't agree, he likes bulk thats why he isn't picked but he is an excellent 8 and will only get better.

If EJ stays as England coach I expect him to reset his tactics after the RWC. Win or lose.



https://i.ibb.co/Fz0bC3q/Unknown-1.jpg


Beno Obano Age 24 years, Loosehead prop, 5ft 8ins 18st 12lbs 'Mauls are like Transformers' they change form to become more powerful!

SarrieSaint
SarrieSaint
17 July, 2019 12:04
Quote:
shipwrecked
What many people don't get about Mercer is his read of the game and his footwork. I used to wonder why he did so little sometimes but he choses his moment. He doesn't make holes like BV or NH but he does go forward.
What's more he doesn't get people going past him in defence either. I don't see him as a 6, he is better at 8.

EJ doesn't agree, he likes bulk thats why he isn't picked but he is an excellent 8 and will only get better.

I don't watch Bath enough but when I have watched Mercer I haven't regarded him as strong defensively or carrying into or through contact although both of those areas have improved from age-grade where I watched quite a bit of him. So too has his work-rate.

He is very good when there's a bit more space or when he can take contact on his terms and utilise some movement to avoid a direct collision. In that regard he reminds me a bit of Tom Croft although he doesn't have the top end. He is much more effective when the game breaks down.

As a matter of interest if all your squad are fit does he even start? Not over Faletau, not over Underhill and not over Louw he is still going next season. I think he's a talented player who may well become very good, being a nailed on XV player would be the start of that.

MESSAGES->author
shipwrecked
17 July, 2019 14:48
Don't forget he is only just turned 22, Faletau 28 and Louw 34. Faletau has been injured a good deal.

Underhill tackles won 81% out of 192
Mercer tackles won 88% out of 284 attempts
Tom Curry tackles won 89% out of 103 attemps

Mercer is rarely injured and your impression of him does not match up to last seasons stats seen above.

He tackles with the best of them and is often first there! Might be time to watch more Bath rugby, though given last season I can understand why you didn't go out of your way.

If he can perform like that in an underperforming side.....



https://i.ibb.co/Fz0bC3q/Unknown-1.jpg


Beno Obano Age 24 years, Loosehead prop, 5ft 8ins 18st 12lbs 'Mauls are like Transformers' they change form to become more powerful!

SarrieSaint
SarrieSaint
17 July, 2019 16:08
As you've said I don't watch him enough to form a fair impression. If he fills his potential that's all to the good.

P G Tips
P G Tips
17 July, 2019 18:40
[quote SarrieSaint][quote shipwrecked]
As a matter of interest if all your squad are fit does he even start? Not over Faletau, not over Underhill and not over Louw he is still going next season. I think he's a talented player who may well become very good, being a nailed on XV player would be the start of that.[/quote]

SS
The question is almost academic. Faletau and Louw have spent much of the past season injured so Mercer (arguably the bench option of a 'Cup Final 23') has played when fit.

As SW points out, he has proven durable and his stats stand fine comparison with other international class players.

To see what he is capable of, I suggest you watch the final 10 minutes of England's Autumn International v South Africa. In a rearguard action protecting a 1 point lead he makes 11 tackles - more than any other player on the field.

PG


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