Let's firstly address the giant grey elephant in the room. Nick Abendanon is the best full-back in Europe. He scores tries, he makes line breaks and he's great under the high ball. He's been showing this consistently for Clermont Auvergne in the Top 14 as well as in the European Cup which has resulted in him winning the European player of the year award.
Now that's all fine and well but the problem with Abendanon is that after 8 years of playing for Bath, earning a very small number of England caps, he moved to France to play for Clermont and it was here where the selection problem arose. At Clermont he was superb and his performances this season have been awe inspiring at times and many were calling for him to receive a call up for the Six Nations but there is a hugely controversial rule in English rugby which states that players who ply their trade outside of English rugby are not available for selection.
This means that no matter how well Abendanon performs in a Clermont kit he will not be available to play for England. It's a loss for England in a sense that they will not be able to select the one of best players in Europe but it also sends out a clear message to players and supporters that the protection of English club rugby is as important as successes on the international stage.
However, all is not lost. There are two top class English fullbacks who play for english teams and they are Mike Brown and Alex Goode. This is a really interesting dilemma because on one hand you have Brown. Mr England. He wears his heart on his sleeve and shows a passion that very few top international players possess. He also has a quality that very few international players have.
Brown can tackle but he can also avoid tackles and as a fullback these are qualities that Brown has shown regularly when on international duty. However, the full-back positional battle changed dramatically during the Six Nations where Brown suffered a concussion and was sidelined for the game against Ireland.
His replacement was Alex Goode. A player who was forced to sit behind Brown in the pecking order despite superb performances against Fiji and most notably the win against New Zealand was called upon to deputise and did extremely well showing off his great creativity and imagination in attack. Goode has also showed great form for Saracens ,where he can play full-back or fly-half, taking them to the Premiership final giving Lancaster even more reasons to give him a start.
What is notable is that Mike Brown is just slightly the stronger of the two in defence and his added international experience may put him slightly above Goode. Goode however has been playing club rugby whilst Brown hasn't played a single game since his injury but it's his experience and try scoring ability that maybe just puts him ahead of Goode.
Who do you think should start at the World Cup? Let us know!
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