Continuity is a very important thing in sport.
The ability to settle on a lineup and make the fewest changes you can possibly get away with has seen many sporting teams over the years beat more talented rivals who chopped and changed their lineup for what ever reason.
In the 2013 Rugby League World Cup I have expressed my concerns that Australia, while trying to rotate their squad, has forgotten about the need to find their best lineup, stick with that lineup, and give that lineup plenty of game time so that by the World Cup final they have all of their combinations set and they are ready to go.
Now, on the eve of the World Cup semi finals we have England dropping Rangi Chase from the halves and bringing in St George/Illawarr Dragons bound Gareth Widdop in is place.
That Widdop is in the lineup isn’t a surprise. He should have been there from the very first game of the tournament. He is the best half that England has in their squad by a very long way. His experience in big games is a huge asset that England should have played value in a long time ago.
England’s halves in the World Cup have been poor. Kevin Sinfield simply is not good enough to be in this England squad. He is nothing short of a liability to this team. While Rangi Chase started the World Cup playing very poorly, he has improved over the last few games.
Chase has been forced to play a lane hand in the halves because of Kevin Sinfields lack of ability. It’s an unfortunate situation for Chase, but one that he is use to in Super League where he has been the only playmaker for the Castleford Tigers for a long time now.
To drop Chase now for any reason is just bad coaching. I have been calling for Gareth Widdop to be brought into the halves for the entire World Cup and for Kevin Sinfield to be dropped. To make ANY changes to the English halves pairing now though is just setting everyone up for failure.
England face the defending World Champions this weekend in the World Cup semi finals. New Zealand have been the form team in the World Cup. Their halves combination has remained unchanged from the very first game.
You don’t play around with your lineup going into a game of this magnitude. You don’t try to out-think the opposition, you don’t try to get clever, you’re not about to worry anyone with any move you make.
Gareth Widdop would need to have a an incredible game that saw England beat New Zealand for this to be seen to be a good decision. The chances of that happening are incredibly small.
This move by Steve McNamara really set him, and Gareth Widdop up for failure…
I think New Zealand will demolish England at Wembley Stadium. The Kiwi’s don’t care who is in the English lineup. The important thing is that they made it this far with good form and with the least amount of changes to their lineup as they needed.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com