‘Once you gain confidence, knowledge and execution then there’s no reason why a back can’t play in the forwards’: England coach John Mitchell claims ‘hybrid’ players are the way ahead after Ollie Thorley switch
- Mitchell says it is a matter of time before ‘hybrid’ players make the starting XV
- Rugby teams are typically made up of eight forwards and seven backs
- England are considering mixing up the balance against Georgia on Saturday
England coach John Mitchell says it is a matter of time before ‘hybrid’ players are named in the starting XV after Ollie Thorley switched to flanker in training.
Teams are typically made up of eight forwards and seven backs but England are considering mixing up the balance at Twickenham this weekend.
Sportsmail revealed on Tuesday that winger Thorley has been practising scrums and lineouts, while flanker Ben Earl is also being considered for a role in the backs.
Ollie Thorley made his debut on the wing in Italy but could feature as a flanker against Georgia
‘We have already seen people swap in and out in matches and, in terms of starting selection, I am sure that time will come,’ said Mitchell.
‘Ultimately the player, regardless of the concept, will need to earn it. Ollie has been jumping around in the lineouts with a smile and seeking information. What’s also great about Ollie is that he is very coachable and the guys are helping him out as well.’
Mitchell added that the transition would be easier for a forward than a back.
Eddie Jones previously deployed a forward on the wing during his time as Japan coach — and the head coach is considering a similar approach against Georgia on Saturday.
England coach Eddie Jones considering mixing up the balance of his side at Twickenham
‘A back-rower with pace has the ability to fulfil a backline position,’ said Mitchell. ‘For a back, the set-piece would be the biggest challenge… not so much the scrum, but probably the lineout. Then the attention to ruck attack and ruck defence. Once you gain confidence, knowledge and execution then there’s no reason why a back can’t play in the forwards.’
England have been mixing up their approach in training on multiple fronts.
Mitchell took part in tackling drills last week wearing the Italian kit and, in previous roles, has themed weeks around African wild dogs.
‘The thing these days is to get a message across you can do it in so many different ways,’ said Mitchell. ‘To create a bit of theatre around the message, and to give yourself a chance as a coaching group for it to land— and create a bit of fun around the message — is important.’
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