After a defeat as comprehensive as England's against Wales at the weekend, it is tough to draw positives. In the wake of their heaviest ever loss to the neighbours across the Severn, however, that is exactly what players, coaches and fans will be trying to do.
One thing that it could do is finally convince head coach Stuart Lancaster to make some changes. There are some players who have not looked up to it this Six Nations, and while loyalty is a valuable characteristic, when it starts to blind selection issues it can become a problem.
The next England matches come on their summer tour to Argentina. It coincides with the Lions tour, and is consequently an opportunity to blood some youngsters and introduce new players to international rugby. Having said that, after Saturday's capitulation there may be fewer England players away on Lions duty than previously expected.
One name that immediately springs to mind as living off his reputation rather than his form is Chris Ashton. After a very sub-par Six Nations, in which his defensive frailties were ruthlessly exposed in pretty much every game, it is time to give someone else ago.
Even if he isn't selected for the Lions tour, he shouldn't be taken to Argentina either. Players like Christian Wade, Jonny May and Tom Biggs are all in scintillating form for their Premiership teams and deserve to be given a shot. Wade is especially exciting, possessing as he does the ability to beat a man in a phone box. If they don't have the chance to prove themselves, England will never evolve.
The situation in the centres is slightly different. Brad Barritt is not playing badly, but rather has his limitations. He is a one-dimensional player - excellent in defence, but a poorer version of Tuilagi in attack.
When Tuilagi is shut down, as he was against Wales, England need someone who can create a bit of space. Step forward Billy Twelvetrees. Again, the tour to Argentina is a perfect opportunity to give him a go.
A longer shot would be Bath's Kyle Eastmond - the Rugby League convert is a special talent and can light up any backline, but with his club still unsure as to what his best position is, it might be a little soon for him.
In the pack, England were mullered against Wales. It was not all down to the front-row, either. The balance of their back-row was wrong, with no big ball carrier at number eight to provide ballast. For this, look no further than Billy Vunipola. He is a raw talent who make mistakes, but is powerful and skillful enough that it is worth seeing how he takes to international rugby.
There are plenty of other names - too many to mention here, and too many to all be given a shot at once. Hopefully, though, the dire defeat to Wales will have convinced Lancaster and his selection team that at least a minor shake-up is needed and it might be time to give a few of those mentioned above a chance. They have earned it.
- Sports & Recreation
- Stuart Lancaster