Liam Williams These constituents are nice!
Labelled yesterday “the Kamikaze kids”, it is easy to see why Eddie Jones wants Sam Underhill and Tom Curry to disrupt Ireland’s gameplan to the point of destruction. Individually they have proven themselves to be the most naturally-gifted openside flankers that England have been able to call on since Neil Back, swapping the No 7 shirt between themselves where injury and opportunity has presented itself.
But together? What can they achieve together? The answer, it is hoped, will be delivered on Saturday when they start together in the back-row two weeks later than planned. Jones had been keen to see what his two apex opensides could do together against Wales, only for a toe injury to rule Underhill out for two weeks and force Curry back into the No 7 shirt, with the Sale forward then injuring his shoulder himself 29 minutes into the Twickenham victory over the Welsh.
Thankfully for them neither injury proved serious, and a fortnight later they have once again been pencilled in to line up together with Billy Vunipola in the back-row against Ireland tomorrow – providing they come through England’s final full training session today.
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It’s what lead Jones to give them their new moniker: “Because they hit everything. They hit everything that moves. Off the pitch they’re nice public schoolboys!”
But on the pitch, they are a daunting prospect. Curry has earned rave reviews over the last 14 months, most notably from South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus after last year’s summer tour and then again in the Six Nations earlier this year. Between that, it was Underhill who shone bright, with his performances in the autumn internationals – most notably against the All Blacks – standing out while his try-saving tackle against Wales last year remains a career high point any rugby professional would want on their CV.
Each time one of them has appeared to do enough to make the shirt their own though, injury has interfered. Underhill has suffered a long-term toe in
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