OW Defends for England in Six Nations
After an early red-card in his last England appearance, Old Whitgiftian Elliot Daly was determined to silence any critics as the Six Nations got underway.
Despite playing at outside centre for Wasps, Daly was selected on the left-wing as he picked up his ninth England cap in the competition opener against France. Head coach Eddie Jones selected him ahead of specialist wingers, including Jack Nowell and fellow OW Marland Yarde, confident he would have a positive impact on the match.
Although he didn’t have much possession of the ball throughout the match, he did have the positive impact Jones had hoped for. He posed a constant attacking threat and would have scored a superb try but for a last-gasp tackle from Noa Nakaitaci.
Outstanding defensive work was a highlight of his performance, with crucial tackles preventing at least one French try, and he was perhaps England’s best player.
A brilliant 50-metre penalty from Daly proved to be the difference between the sides, as England picked up a narrow 19-16 victory.
Wales in Cardiff was next up and England trailed 16-14 with less than five minutes remaining, until Daly came to the rescue.
It had been a tough game, with Daly putting in an outstanding all-around performance throughout. Once again, his defensive work was superb and he was always a threat going forward. He missed a long-range penalty earlier on in the match but more than made up for it at the end.
As Wales failed to clear their lines, Owen Farrell picked out Daly on the left. He used his speed to get past a stranded Alex Cuthbert and silenced the home crowd by touching down in the corner.
The try, and resulting conversion from Farrell, snatched victory for England from the jaws of defeat. It stretched their winning run to sixteen consecutive matches and keeps them on course for back-to-back grand slams.
Daly was selected in the team of the weekend for that performance against Wales and he is becoming a vital part of England’s team, after only ten caps.
England have looked far from convincing despite two opening Six Nations victories, although Daly has been one of their stand-out players. Head coach Jones has publicly praised him, saying he has the “X-Factor” and he is certain to start for his country in upcoming games.
There has even been talk of a possible place in the Lions squad for their tour of New Zealand in June and July.
Daly’s versatility, all-around talent, and sparkling performances are making big impressions in the world of Rugby Union.
Aside from Daly’s success in the England squad, two other OWs are hoping to once again make it to the big stage soon.
Marland Yarde is on the fringes of the England team, but has missed out on the final 23-man squad for both Six Nations fixtures so far. However, if he continues to play as well for Harlequins as he has been, it won’t be too much longer before he’s back in an England shirt.
Danny Cipriani has been in brilliant form for Wasps and, despite not being a part of the England set-up, has been mentioned as a possible Lions wild-card by boss Warren Gatland.