Brian O’Driscoll believes the sooner England get his fellow British & Irish Lion Manu Tuilagi back the better, adamant his presence was sorely missed during the autumn.
The 23-year-old didn’t feature once for England in November as a groin injury prevented him from playing any part against New Zealand, South Africa, Samoa and Australia.
Stuart Lancaster started with four different centres in their quartet of matches, Brad Barritt consistent throughout and joined by Kyle Eastmond, Owen Farrell and Billy Twelvetrees.
England fell to New Zealand and South Africa but recovered to defeat Samoa and Australia and face a big year in 2015 with the World Cup landing on British shores in September.
And O’Driscoll insists the player he joined on the British & Irish Lions’ successful tour to Australia in the summer of 2013, Tuilagi, is imperative to England’s cause.
“England look as though they took a step back in November. I don’t think Stuart Lancaster has been able to pair up people he would have liked to, particularly with Manu being injured,” O’Driscoll told the Telegraph.
“It’s not ideal a year out of the World Cup not being sure who your ten is. You’ll imagine that he will back George Ford now going into the Six Nations and he’s been messing with the scrum-half as well.
“I think a really good foil for George Ford would be Eastmond and Manu. I think they could complement each other really well.
“I also really like Jonathan Joseph, but Eastmond has a nice subtlety. Luther Burrell is skilful for a big man, people look at him and think he can’t play because he’s sizey, but he can play plenty. I’d probably have to go with Eastmond.”