Grayson says Six Nations decider will be all about the kickers

Paul Grayson believes England's Six Nations decider with Wales on Saturday is likely to be decided by the goalkickers.
Paul Grayson believes England's Six Nations decider with Wales on Saturday is likely to be decided by the goalkickers.

Paul Grayson believes England’s Six Nations decider with Wales on Saturday is likely to be decided by the goalkickers.

The former Saints player and coach is expecting a tight clash at the Millennium Stadium as England go for the Grand Slam and Wales look to secure the seven-point win needed to take the title.

And he feels the men who do the job he was an expert at, taking penalties and conversions, will be key.

Leigh Halfpenny has been prolific for Wales during the tournament, while England’s Owen Farrell and Toby Flood have also been impressive.

And former fly-half Grayson, who is second on the list of England’s all-time points scorers, said: “Wales are defensively strong, but I think in general England are pretty formidable. It might come down to the goalkickers.

“I certainly think, though, England were a little bit disjointed against Italy, if they’d been more clinical in the first 20 minutes they could have scored three tries and that would have put a completely different gloss on the game, but they didn’t.

“If you don’t score the tries, they are just opportunities, but England are creating chances.

“It’s a bit like a striker in football, if you’re getting in the right places and creating chances the goals will come at some point.

“I think England have got the ability to score tries, but in a game like this it’s not going to be a 45-42 encounter.

“It’s going to be absolutely flat out, as big a northern hemisphere Test match as you can get, which is superb for the Six Nations and superb for British and Irish rugby pre-Lions tour.”

The England and Wales squads should make up a sizeable chunk of the British & Irish Lions squad that tours Australia this summer.

And Grayson knows just how keen the players will be to shine on Saturday, and for their clubs in the closing weeks of the domestic campaign.

“There will be loads of battles across the pitch on Saturday,” he said.

“In a Lions season, the Six Nations and the last two months of the domestic season are opportunities for guys who are in with a shout of the Lions to put their hands up.

“The latter stages of the Heineken Cup and the RaboDirect PRO12 and Premiership are also proving grounds for players who go back to their clubs after the Six Nations.

“They obviously want to win things for their clubs and match that with their personal ambitions to get on a plane to Australia.”