Elliot Daly said “always looking for what’s on” lay behind England rout of France in the Six Nations.
England thrashed Les Bleus 44-8, with Jonny May scoring a hat-trick of tries inside the opening half an hour at Twickenham on Sunday.
The first of those came in just the second minute, with speedy full-back Daly counter-attacking from deep off turnover ball, evading several defenders, before a raking left-foot grubber-kick behind the French defence paved the way for May to touch down.
“You always look for what’s on and I saw a little bit of space and went for it and Jonny ended up scoring a try,” said Daly.
It was the kind of opportunistic score some England teams of the recent past might have squandered, while more than a few Red Rose coaching set-ups would have had second thoughts about whether a player of Daly’s attacking talent was well-suited to the role of full-back, the last line of defence.
But coach Eddie Jones, however, has shown his faith in Wasps playmaker Daly, a centre or wing for much of his career, by starting him at full-back for England’s last nine Tests.
Significantly though, the British and Irish Lion has been operating mainly alongside experienced wings when wearing England’s No 15 shirt.
By contrast, France’s team at Twickenham on Sunday saw wing Yoann Huget starting at full-back, with centres Damian Penaud and Gael Fickou on the wings.
‘Decision on the field’
Daly, asked if England thought beforehand this was a situation they could exploit against France, one of their pool opponents at this year’s World Cup in Japan, replied: “Yes, to a certain degree. I think you have to go into the game with a plan, obviously, but you read what is going on out there and then make certain decisions.
“If you have something in your head to do and you execute that it might not be the right decision so you just have to make a decision on the field,” added the 26-year-old, who will join English champions Saracens next season.
“We did that really well with the communication from the outside with the wingers and centres,” explained Daly, capped 27 times by England.
“By putting kicks in behind, putting pressure on them and forcing turnovers so we got some good outcomes.“
And with France clearly unable to cope, Daly said England had no qualms in sticking with the ploy in a first half that ended with Henry Slade scoring their fourth try, following a kick through from scrum-half Ben Youngs, to leave them 30-8 ahead at the break.
“You don’t get bored of what you are doing — if it’s working then don’t change it,” said Daly after a win that left England top of the Six Nations table after two rounds following their opening 32-20 victory away to reigning champions Ireland.
“It’s one of those things; if you put a team under that much pressure then something will give if you keep doing it again and again and again like we did in that first half.”