I thought it was a great performance against Ireland. There was a lot of pressure on the England players and management.
The way they played made for one of the better games of the 2008 RBS 6 Nations championship. The forwards and the backs combined very well. Jamie Noon receiving man of the match was very much deserved but Danny Cipriani was not far behind him. Everything Cipriani did he handled with a maturity above his years. The way he bossed the game was fantastic. Ireland were only in the game for the first 10 minutes and after that their confidence got more and more brittle as England got stronger and stronger.
A few people said here we go again at 10-0 down but because it was at Twickenham I didn’t have that worry. With the home crowd the advantage was with England and, even though Ireland had won on their last two visits to Twickenham, I just felt the England side could come back from that. The key to it was Cipriani making his first full start in his favoured position of fly-half. As long as the forwards could win enough ball, we had a play-maker in Cipriani who could utilise it.
Beating Ireland and France was fantastic but losing to Wales and Scotland was very disappointing. We finished second in the table thanks to a late flurry against Ireland. What we’ve got to strive for now is consistency. We’ve got a summer tour to New Zealand coming up and we’ve got these younger players in place who have got to consolidate their position.
The most important question to ask of Brian Ashton and his coaching team is: ‘Are they capable of winning the next World Cup?’ From what we saw of some of the performances in this Six Nations championship we know the players are not ready for it because they are going through a transitional period. I think it would be very hard to change the coach in that period as well. Hopefully what we’ve got now is a settled coaching team which will go forward.
I thought Richard Wigglesworth had a good campaign, Andrew Sheridan added strength in the scrum and Cipriani did well at fly-half. Paul Sackey played pretty well in all the games. He rarely put a foot wrong. In an attacking role he scored tries and in a defensive mode he did a lot of tackling, soaking up pressure. He was one of the players of the tournament for England in a very understated way.