English Rugby
Grewcock backs Shaw for World Cup
Tom Hamilton
August 18, 2011

Former England lock Danny Grewcock believes his former side are spoilt for choice when it comes to finding the right second row mix for next month's Rugby World Cup.

England boss Martin Johnson is due to name his final 30-man squad on Monday with one of the key decisions he faces being whether to take three or four locks. The likes of Tom Palmer, Louis Deacon and Courtney Lawes have all impressed of late while the evergreen Simon Shaw remains a significant presence. Added to that impressive list of talent is relative newcomer Mouritz Botha and the ultra-versatile flanker-come-second-row Tom Croft.

Whatever blend Johnson opts for, Grewcock believes he cannot lose due to England's embarrassment of riches in that department. "I think it is exciting times in the second-row for England," Grewcock told ESPNscrum. "Louis Deacon had a great Six Nations and he really hit some form. Tom Palmer is playing some of the best rugby he has played for England.

"Courtney Lawes is the pick of the guys and he has played brilliantly for Northampton all year and he also performs at international level, which is difficult to do. I think you also have the experience of Simon Shaw, which is key, so I think Johnno has a lot of very good second-rows there."

And Grewcock believes, if Johnson does take four locks, that Shaw should be the man to fill that berth. Shaw, who won his 69th Test cap against Wales earlier this month, will be 38-years-old by the time England kick off their World Cup campaign but Grewcock believes he could still feature. "I think they'd go for Shaw over anyone else as he is part of the tried and tested second-row combination," Grewcock said.

"He's done it 60 odd times already and he's performed at the top level for a while and I do not think it would be a difficult decision to put him in the team at all so I reckon he'll be the fourth lock."

Question marks remain over the fitness of captain Lewis Moody but Grewcock, who has played with both Moody and England's most recent skipper Mike Tindall at club level, believes the Bath flanker is the right man to lead the side into the 2011 showpiece.

"Lewis Moody is a fantastic captain for England," Grewcock said. "The way they play and their good attitude is all part of his Lewis' captaincy. At the moment Lewis has had more experience with captaincy and if he is fit I would stick with him. However, he has an arsenal of experienced players behind him so if he is struggling then you have the likes of Mike Tindall and Nick Easter ready to step in.

"They are a very talented and a young squad but at the same time there are many leaders in there but if Lewis is fit I'd want to see him leading England out."

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.

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