Dean Ryan says that Stuart Lancaster is right to stick with his young England side for their clash against Australia
Dean Ryan believes that England's inexperienced team can step up against Australia on Saturday.
Last Updated: 15/11/12 2:46pm
As expected Chris Ashton has been recalled to the England team for Saturday's autumn international against Australia. The 25-year-old Saracens wing replaces Ugo Monye, is the only change from the 54-12 Fiji win, and will play on the the right wing with Charlie Sharples moving to the left.
"Ashton coming back was never in doubt," said Ryan on Sky Sports News.
"He is England's best finisher and their best line runner. Since they lost Ben Foden to injury England have lost some of their creativity in the back three - yes, they will be delighted with Sharples and with what Alex Goode brought in but England would not want to go into a big match without Ashton.
"He is an out-and-out finisher - you can talk about the shape and what everyone has to do but you need someone like Ashton to turn up and finish it off."
Banking on youth
The former England No.8 and former Gloucester coach also said that England are right to stick with a young side against the third best team in the world.
"It is the right decision for England coach Stuart Lancaster to be more stable," he said. "He has made mass changes in terms of bringing youth in.
"There are a few areas where he could have tinkered with but he has resisted. Tom Palmer is under some pressure from the youngster Joe Launchbury coming through and Tom Johnson has got some pressure from Tom Wood. But realistically Lancaster has talked about gathering experience into a young group and he can't say he has faith in you and will invest in you if he is changing every week.
"For where England are they need to stick with this team - they have got one win under their belt but it was not a significant test and I think this weekend will be a considerable step-up. Then we can start talking about big selection decisions off the back of that."
Australia have made four changes to the team that was thrashed 33-6 by France in Paris with fit-again Digby Ioane taking on Ashton on the wing and Berrick Barnes slotting in at fullback. Australia's much-maligned scrum have also been boosted by the return of prop Ben Alexander and lock Sitaleki Timani and Ryan believes they will be much competitive than people think.
"What has surprised me is that Kurtley Beale stays at 10," he said. "He has been a 15 and is one of the best broken-field runners in the game. Whether he can manage a game for everybody else is up for debate.
"Berrick Barnes is a game manager and normally plays at 10 but finds himself at 15, so that is the big surprise for me. The positive is that Digby Ioane comes back in; he is their equivalent of Ashton. He can really finish and that will change the dynamic around Beale. Adam Ashley-Cooper moves into 13 which again gives them a different threat too.
"The big question is upfront where Australia were steamrolled in Paris. They have bought Alexander back in at tighthead who is their first choice. They have been suffering from injuries and they do not have a huge amount of depth but I think they return of Timani in the second row is another boost - he is a monster and that could change their scrum.
"I did think they would have brought Stephen Moores back in as hooker - he has 70 odds caps and that front row would have had a more settled look. This is not a team to write-off, they may not be comfortable or happy at the moment but it has enough finishers and quality out there to hurt you and you are going to have to play well to get a victory.
"Robbie Deans does seem to have lost the group a little bit - it is not so much about the theory of the game but they just don't seem energised. So much of their game has been about energy there wonderful shape players who were best at these dummies and the run-around but they seem to have lost that."
With a win against Fiji already under their belt, Ryan believes that England could make it two out of two on Saturday and says if they do lose it will be very hard for them to bounce back against South Africa a week on Saturday.
"I think England will win over the weekend," added Ryan. "I think England are building and areas like the scrum will give them too much traction and I think we may see England move on in terms of the shape.
"A win would allow them a lot of confidence going into the South Africa game. The Springboks are the tipping point because if England lose against Australia and have to go and find a result against South Africa then that is very difficult. Going in off two wins, well I think England could get something against the 'Boks which would give them a free shot against New Zealand who are head and shoulders above everybody else.
"If they don't beat Australia then the pressure is back on England and they have to go looking for a result. But I am pretty confident, there is a foundation there and they are playing the weakest of the southern hemisphere teams first up."