Former captain Nick Easter believes Adam Radwan can deliver the same electric pace and defence breaking footwork for England that made Jason Robinson such a phenomenal attacking force at test level.
Easter played alongside World Cup winner Robinson, nicknamed Billy Whizz, and the Newcastle defence coach is eager to see Radwan build on the hat-trick he scored for England against Canada in the summer while also spearheading the Falcons Gallagher Premiership campaign that has seen the wing score in the narrow loss to champions Harlequins and last weekend’s win at Bath.
Wasps, who hammered Bristol 44-8, head to Kingston Park on Saturday and their free flowing style could offer Radwan more opportunities to build on a his growing reputation as the deadliest finisher in the Premiership. Easter, who won 54 caps and led England to the Six Nations title, is happy that his defence does not have to deal with Radwan’s bag of tricks and told RugbyPass: “With less room on the pitch the old adage that there is no answer to pace is even more relevant and Adam is a supremely gifted athlete. He is a very special rugby player with that x-factor.
“Jason Robinson was very similar and while he didn’t have that out and out pace his ability over the first five or ten metres was electric and even against suffocating defences he would suddenly be away, skipping past tacklers.
“The really exciting thing is that there is still so much more to come from Adam from a rugby point of view and he is very hungry to learn. He is very down to earth like so many of the guys up here, doesn’t get ahead of himself and knows there are things to work on. His pace and low centre of gravity means he can beat opponents in the proverbial phone box and it is quite astonishing given how little room you get on the pitch.
“Another player who had that kind of ability to step off either foot was David Strettle (ex-England, Harlequins and Saracens). As a defence coach you are feeding information about opponents, noting if they prefer to step off one foot because they are strong off one or the other but with Adam, he is equally adept off both which is difficult for opponents.”
Given Radwan’s pace and instinctive running style, how do the Falcons ensure their players can run support lines when he sets off? “When he receives a kick, you stand 25m in front of him and hope that he comes within five metres of you:” said Easter.” Any further away and he steps, then you will be double the distance from him!”
Falcons are evolving their attacking game while remaining intensely physical up front with ball carriers such as hooker George McGuigan also catching the eye and Easter is excited by the potential in a squad that supplements Radwan’s pace with the speed of fellow wing Iwan Stephens, full back Tom Penny and wing/centre Ben Stevenson.
Easter added: “The role of a winger has changed massively particularly in defence and they have to make decisions in the back field especially with the 50-22 rule coming in. They are taking a more leading role in defence while in defence they are no longer hanging out wide, they look for work and to create the opportunities that Ben Cohen did for England. Not many carried that on after Ben retired in the Northern Hemisphere and we have been trying to get that message to our wingers. We told them in pre-season that their importance to the team is greater than ever.
“We are moving the ball more than we did last season having set our foundations after being promoted.”