Leicester Tigers' Julian Salvi highlights fault in England's back row
Leicester Tigers' Aussie back-rower Julian Salvi believes England's back row is "slightly unbalanced", with no genuine open-side flanker in the squad.
Captain Chris Robshaw donned the No.7 shirt for his country in the narrow defeat by South Africa last Saturday.
But the Harlequins man is by no means a genuine open-side flanker and, with an Elite Player Squad (EPS) that contains no genuine ball- stealer, there has been a clamour for head coach Stuart Lancaster to re-call former London Irish man Steffon Armitage – currently plying his trade in the French Top 14 for Toulon.
With neither of the other flankers in the EPS like Tom Croft, Phil Dowson, Tom Johnson and Tom Wood fitting the mould of a genuine open-side, Salvi thinks Armitage's recall might not be a bad idea.
"Robshaw has done quite well but, more recently, he has been more of a link man than an out and out open-side," said the 26-year-old. "The back row is slightly unbalanced from my point of view.
"There seems to be lots of ball-carrying players and not enough guys who get in there and do the graft that needs to be done in that role of the out-and-out seven. That needs to be changed a bit.
"Luke Wallace has been behind Robshaw at Quins and I haven't seen much of him.
"A lot of good things have been said about Matt Kvesic at Worcester and Andy Saull (Saracens) is a good on-baller. Whether he is ready for England or not, I don't know.
"Steffon Armitage is a good on-baller and a quality open-side. If he is not available and can't be released, I can understand England not selecting him. But he would be a good option."
Salvi has been a huge success at Leicester since joining in the summer of 2011. He has made 34 starts in 15 months and continues to be one of Richard Cockerill's first names on the team sheet.
Salvi is set to face former club Bath at Welford Road on Saturday.
"In today's game, the role of the open-side flanker is extremely important," he said. "You need a player in the team who can be a complete nuisance.
"I enjoy playing against sides without natural open-sides. If they have one, your game changes and you have to be that second quicker to the breakdown."