Beaumont’s Breakdown: “England need to be a lot braver on the ball”

©Sale Sharks

In his latest column for TRU, Sale Sharks’ Josh Beaumont discusses what he wants to see from England, the role George Ford can play, the importance of self-discipline + he reflects on signing a new one-year extension with last season’s Premiership finalists.

Is one click all England need?

I think it is pretty clear the performances from England haven't been there so far which has been a shame. I think they just need more time playing together but with key players missing, that is easier said than done.

They will understand the gameplan but what they are trying to do is just not quite clicking at the moment. Obviously in the previous warm-up games, it doesn't help when you're playing on the back foot a lot of the time because you are down on numbers so hopefully this week against Fiji we will see them click a bit more in attack.

There are a lot of new combinations and I think they just need to back themselves a little bit more, certainly in attacking situations. 

I know what they are doing now is very 'Steve Borthwick' and there are numbers behind it but look at the way the Kiwis played in The Rugby Championship. Even South Africa against Wales last week; When they strike, they strike fast and are clinical.

I think England need to be a bit braver on the ball and back themselves a bit more because they have got some talent! Right now, they are relying on a dominant set-piece and winning that territory battle through the kicking game and actually, they probably haven't quite achieved that set-piece dominance just yet and the kicking game has not come to fruition. 

Once you take those two things out, it is hard to see where England are going to turn next.

The one thing I would say is at least we are getting these performances out of the way now! Relating it to Sale if I can, we had a similar situation last year. 

We played Connacht [away] in pre-season. I know it is not on the same scale but we were pretty average! Everyone admitted it. Everyone was slightly worried coming into the season and in a way, it just made everyone focus a little bit more because we realised the Premiership was coming up and that might be the same with the World Cup and England.

We were just clunky in everything we did and I think that is a similar situation to what England are in at the moment. It might just take a half of rugby where something just clicks…

Ford and Curry can shine for England

George [Ford] has so much experience and is proven at international level so there will be no concern in terms of being able to manage the game, especially having won a Premiership title under the same coaches at Leicester.

As for Tom [Curry], it’s a shame he hasn’t featured in any of the warm-up games, but last season he came back from an injury which left him out for a couple of months and was player of the match in his first game back against Northampton, so hopefully we’ll see the same again out in France.

Have the incidents involving Farrell and Vunipola brought the topic of discipline further into the spotlight at Sale?

To be honest, we always spend a bit of time on it [discipline]. We have a technical session each week where it is quite low key but it looks at our tackle technique and working on that. We have focused a lot in this pre-season on our self-discipline and how that looks and how that leads into your performance as well. Emotionally, I think you just need to stay in check a bit on the pitch.

It is really hard in the heat of the battle and in a contact sport but I think a lot of players, a lot of the red cards you see, there is no malice in these collisions. It might be just a loss of concentration or in the heat of the moment. You can have your technique but keeping calm heads on the pitch is easier said than done in international sport when the stakes are so high.

When the big games come, the knockout games, the importance of penalty count is there and also being able to keep 15 players on the pitch. We have experienced that at Sale so it is key.

Signing an extension, reflections on last season and having a ‘nice balance’ for 23/24

I wouldn't have gone anywhere else. It has always been Sale so it is an exciting time to sign again, especially with the trajectory we have been on.

This time last year, I hadn't played a game in 14 months. I wasn't quite sure how that was going to go. I was happy with my season last year, playing 24, 25 games, so it certainly exceeded my expectations. I have got to keep working hard and do the same again.

Look, we were disappointed with the final but I think we ticked a few boxes last year - Getting that home semi, winning a home semi and actually making a final. I think the last three years we have sort of been ticking boxes, to be honest!

We reached our first semi-final for so long three years ago. We have got to the Champions Cup quarter-finals twice in that time and obviously reaching the Premiership final so we have now only got one more to go in terms of the domestic competition.

I think Jono [Ross] said it after the final that it is definitely the start for Sale and we want to be up there competing in finals both domestically and in Europe over the next few years.

We are building nicely and there is still that buzz around the club. We have still got a strong squad. We have lost a few guys from last year, but we have still got a lot of talent in the squad. I think we have got a nice balance.

We have got those young guys where a lot of them had never played at Twickenham before last year so they are going to learn a lot from that and then adding that experience, especially in the hookers where we've got three of the most experienced hookers in the league with [Agustin] Creevy, Luke [Cowan-Dickie] and Tommy [Taylor], it is in positions like that were you do want experience and that will just add to the dynamic of the squad.

There is a lot to be optimistic about going into the season starting with the Premiership Cup in a couple of weeks.

Josh was talking to TRU’s Chris Heal