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England in good shape - Greenwood

Will Greenwood has backed England's under-pressure centres to answer their critics at the Rugby World Cup.

The former England star believes Mike Tindall and Shontayne Hape deserve their places in the squad. New Zealand-born Hape has been under fire after a poor performance in the warm-up game against Wales in Cardiff, while the effectiveness of the Tindall-Hape axis has been criticised for a lack of pace and invention.

But Greenwood, a former centre, believes England have a perfectly balanced side, with Leicester's Manu Tuilagi adding the missing ingredient, and said: "England are in pretty good shape. They've answered a lot of questions but there's still a few more tough ones being posed, as Australia, South Africa and New Zealand are lurking around the corner."

He added: "Hape did some very good things in the Six Nations.

"We all want our centres or our wings to score 58 tries every game, jump through burning hoops and do triple salcos but rugby's not about that.

"It's about putting components together that balance nicely and Shontayne is a very good defender.

"He had a couple of bad moments in Cardiff, coming back from a knee injury, and it's quite harsh to write someone off on the back of one performance but it gave an opportunity for Tuilagi to come in and he took it.

"Tindall brings his experience and had an outstanding game in Dublin.

"He's a much maligned player, outstandingly good at what he does but he needs a counterfoil and in Tuilagi I think they've found one for him."


From Belfast Telegraph