Phone call from Sanderson at 6.30am after Raffi Quirke England missed out
Sale boss Alex Sanderson has revealed how he phoned his brother Pat, his former England international, at 6.30am after Eddie Jones’ decision this week to omit youngster Raffi Quirke from selection plans for the opening of the Guinness Six Nations this Saturday in Scotland. The 20-year-old scrum-half was crucial as a try scorer off the bench to help beat the Springboks just eleven weeks ago.
However, England’s Matchday 23 for this weekend’s trip to Edinburgh illustrates how quickly things can change at Test-level rugby. Eight players who took part in the win over the world champions are not involved this time around.
Injuries accounted for Manu Tuilagi, Jonny May, Jonny Hill, Courtney Lawes and Sam Underhill, but Bevan Rodd, Nic Dolly and Quirke are all out as Jones prefers different players.
Sale stalwart Rodd – a starter against the Springboks due to Covid affecting England’s front row – was among 29 retained on Tuesday before it was confirmed on Thursday that Ellis Genge will be the starting coward and Joe Marler the substitute from the bench in this front row position.
It’s an understandable call given the wealth of experience that Genge and Marler have compared to Rodd. Experience, however, wasn’t the reason Quirke lost a place on the bench to Harry Randall, as Bristol’s scrum-half is just as inexperienced as Quirke in Testing, as they haven’t each as two selections.
It was on Tuesday night that it emerged Randall had been given the green light to stay in the England camp and let a crestfallen Quirke return home to Manchester where he will have Premiership exposure rather than the Six Nations this weekend -end. “It’s probably the first time he’s had any real setbacks in the last two years and at some point it was always going to happen,” Sanderson explained of Quirke being considered surplus to requirements. England for the start of the Six Nations.
“I was talking to my brother on Wednesday morning in my car at half past six on the way home and he, like me, has experienced occasions in your life where you feel personally excluded from a team in which you think you should have been and sometimes there are times when you make a team you never should have made.
“Say Bev Rodd last fall, via Covid. Over time, they tend to even out. Does it make it easier for a young boy (like Raffi) who wants it now, who is ready now? That’s the challenge we have with him to try to make him understand that he has time off and if he plays enough (for sale) he will prove his worth and that’s the conversion we had on Tuesday evening on returning home.
“He’s only played three games for us all season so we think he needs playing time just to prove his worth, to think he’s good enough to be in the England team. , but I’d be biased It would be pretty safe to assume he’ll be included this weekend against Quins.
Join RugbyPass+ now and join the conversation with brand new reviews!