An England squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup

England Rugby

With European rugby finished and domestic rugby in its final stages, attention is beginning to turn to the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year. It is almost four months to the day before the competition kicks off on 20th September and 20 squads of 31 players will duke it out for the biggest prize in rugby.

With only the Premiership play-offs and final left for players to impress Eddie Jones, the England head coach should have a pretty solid idea of who he will take in his squad. With that in mind, here is the 31 I would take to Japan.

Props (x6)
Ellis Genge; Ben Moon; Mako Vunipola; Dan Cole; Kyle Sinckler; Harry Williams

The first decision is five props or six. While England only took five in 2015, the fact is that it is rarer and rarer for props to be able to cover both sides of the scrum, so I think a fully stocked front row is important. Especially as reserve front rows often get a large amount of game time. As for the names, they pretty much pick themselves at this point.

Hookers (x3)
Luke Cowan-Dickie; Jamie George; Dylan Hartley

Hartley is a risky choice – he has yet to play after a long injury lay-off – but given how important his leadership could be, I would still pick him. If he is not fully fit, Jack Singleton of Worcester would come into contention.

Locks (x4)
George Kruis; Maro Itoje; Joe Launchbury; Courtney Lawes

Our best four by a margin. Everyone agreed? Next.

Back row (x5)
Tom Curry; Chris Robshaw; Sam Underhill; Billy Vunipola; Mark Wilson

With only five spots available, this is one of the trickiest selection decisions. Our first-choice backrow is pretty settled, although a case can be made for both Underhill and Curry to start at openside. The fifth spot is another matter and I am sure a few eyebrows will be raised (an understatement) at my selection of Robshaw.

But with Mark Wilson deputising ably at eight in the autumn, I don’t think another specialist such as Nathan Hughes is essential (although I think Jones will pick him). I would prefer another versatile blindside flanker and it comes to a straight shootout between Brad Shields and Chris Robshaw. My pick is for the former England captain; he has returned well from his injury issues, earned his place back in a strong Harlequins pack, and like Hartley his experience will be positive to the squad.

Scrum halves (x2)
Ben Spencer; Ben Youngs
I have been really impressed by Spencer’s recent performances – excellent kicking, sharp delivery and a strong relationship with Owen Farrell, I think he has won the race to go as one of England’s two scrum halves.

Fly halves (x2)
Danny Cipriani; Owen Farrell
George Ford may have been a rare positive in Leicester Tiger’s dismal season, and Jones will choose him, but this is about who I think would have the best chance to win a World Cup. Cipriani, who has been consistently brilliant for Gloucester, goes.

Centres (x3)
Henry Slade; Ben Te’o; Manu Tuilagi
A slightly risky decision, but I would only take three centres – however, all three can cover both 12 and 13, while Jack Nowell, Owen Farrell and Elliot Daly can also play there. I expect Jones to take Jonathan Joseph or Alex Lozowksi instead of a sixth back-three player.

Back three (x6)
Joe Cokanasiga; Elliot Daly; Alex Goode; Jonny May; Jack Nowell; Anthony Watson
Dropping a centre frees up an extra spot in the back three and I would give it to Alex Goode. Like Cipriani, I fully expect Jones to omit him, but in my opinion the two-time European player of the year is one of the best in his position and should be in the squad. Plus, his versatility to play 10 would ease the workload on England’s flyhalves.

Daly and May are dead certs to go, so that left three from Cokanasiga, Watson, Nowell, Chris Ashton and Mike Brown. All have their positives and negatives, but in the end I opted for the power of Cokanasiga, the pace of Watson, and dynamism of Nowell. It was a close call however, and I would be happy to see Ashton in there.

Who would you select?

By Henry Ker

57 thoughts on “An England squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup

  1. Some of those who will make the cut are there purely because of Ed’s intransigence : B Youngs, Teo, W’Worth (i’m betting), which makes any game of “pick the squad” a fools errand. So many players have been either ignored or given so little time that what we see may not be what we get ,ie, the best 31 players to represent England at the World Cup.




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  2. Agree with Acee. Is this a squad of who should go or who will go?
    If its the former then Youngs is out and Care is in. Youngs was shocking for England in the 6N and hasnt gotten better since. Care on the flipside has been great for Quins since being dropped.
    I don’t think Teo is needed; he is too one-dimensional. Daly, Nowell and Farrell could cover centre. I would consider taking Ford or JJ or Lozowski.




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    1. To clarify – this is who I would pick. Although I have also mentioned some key points where I expect Jones will disagree (I honestly do not see him selecting Goode or Cipriani).




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  3. I’m not having a pop at your selections Henry. Barring injuries etc, you are probably 99% correct.
    My gripe is as stated. Ed is so resistant to change that some players may have been overlooked in favour of lesser ones. We’ll never know now.
    I think Hartley should come back in as captain but then you lose George who is now by far the better Hooker. Relegating him to the reps would be utterly dumb.
    The twisted knicker situation at S/Half is a case in point re Ed and his stubborn character,as is his almost lunatic refusal to allow Cips a place in the squad.
    Personally, I’d go Joseph, Slade, Manu and Lozowski in the centres and drop a wing for six in the back row, which would comprise; Curry, U/Hill, Wilson, BV, Ewers and Morgan.
    Youngs wouldn’t get anywhere near a seat on the plane but the horse has bolted in terms of blooding a replacement.
    Apart from that and a fire in my hat, no arguments from me.




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  4. I agree with your selections almost entirely, though would have Ashton over Goode … there is zero chance of Ford not going though, so the only way Cips gets a look in (highly unlikely tbh) is if he takes 3 fly halves …




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  5. Think you’ve got it pretty much spot on.
    The front 5 pick themselves. You could make a case for a different back row mix but the balance looks right and does offer some flexibility.
    Cipriani and Goode wont get picked but I understand why you would take them.
    I expect the squad to be the above with Ford and probably Joseph replacing Cipriani and Goode.
    I can’t see any bolters at this stage. I think we could all name at least 26 or 27 of the likely squad. it’s the final few spots that pose the the trickiest calls, where some deserving players will inevitably miss out.




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  6. No doubt Tuilai will get picked but not convinced he has done enough since he came back to justify it. Mike Brown and Alex Goode are the two best full backs and should be automatic choices. With Lawes and Itoje able to cover 6 I think Jones will take Hughes instead of Robshaw. Can’t possibly justify Hartley unless he gets game time in the summer. To me, Yeandle is as good as Cowan Dickie and should be in the mix.Daly is talented but flakey. I would have Lozowski as a utility back. As pointed out, big problem is at scrum half. No way we can win a WC with Youngs. I would take three, Care, Spencer and Wiggie.




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    1. Hi Andy. Yeandle/LCD is exactly the kind of dilemma caused by Ed’s rigidity. Ditto Hughes/Morgan and the curious exiling of Mike Brown.
      The same applies to Launchers to a degree. I love the bloke , industrious, intelligent, combative and he can play too. Has he really been better than say Ed Slater this year though? What about Attwood? Johnny Hill? It wouldnt’ hurt to have a look at one of them during the warm up games , which may happen but, I tend to think fast Eddie has already made his choices.




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      1. Agree with your first point Acer, but after taking a few weeks to get up to speed I think Launchbury has been terrific for Wasps the past few weeks. Haven’t seen much of Hill, but Attwood has not tearing up trees and I regard Slater as being a terrific club player but maybe not International standard. Launch brings an outstanding ability to read the game, a big engine, soft hands and leadership. He would be the first name on my team sheet, as captain.




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  7. Front & 2nd rows mostly look likely picks. However, by then lumping the back row together, it looks a bit muddy to me. Ideally need 2 6’s, 7’s & 8’s. Understand Wilson’s covering 8 in place of the theoretically omitted Hughes, but will Jones actually leave the incumbent back up 8 out? Will he also omit Shields in favour of the out of favour Robshaw? Wouldn’t bet on it. I’d take the experienced Robshaw AND the industrious Shields. The other loose fwds look likely selections though. Must add Care to the 1/2 back choices. Can’t go with 2. If 1 gets crocked, it’s too risky relying on the other. Perversely, Jones may just go with Wigglesworth? I’d have gone with Cipriani @ fly 1/2 over any in the country, any day of the week, but it won’t happen. Jones will have to reverse a nearly 4 yr track record to go against Ford & Farrell. The midfield numbers are too skinny. 1 injury to Slade & it’s down to bosh. I know Daly can be drafted in, but he’s had no game time here for England. Another risk. Tui & Teo I suppose, maybe JJ, but but he’s too thin on time as well. Lastly the back 6? This term also seems opaque. They need 4 wingers & 2 full backs, but this won’t happen as the numbers don’t work. Therefore, this selection makes some sense, apart from Goode & Watson. Although both have plenty of merit, particularly going fwd, neither have featured for England, certainly over the past yr. Goode, Euro P o t Yr’s gong notwithstanding, has seldom been part of the England set up, so to chose him now goes against their grain of trusting talented players (as per Cipriani). Watson too can look spectacular, but can he effectively finish off? Last 2 for England, he gave up 2 tries & got then injured. Jones may see these 2 as luxuries. He will likely stick with Daly @ full back who can also, by default, cover centre. May & Nowell look Certs, with Coka.. or Ashton? Novice v exp? Hard to read this one. Jones was reluctant to give Coka 6N game time, so Ashton the finisher? Perversely, he’ll possibly pick Coka’s bosh. IMO, Mike Brown needs to go as well. England really need a speciaslst @ 15, particularly in the latter stages when they’ll be under pressure. More so if there’s an injury in midfield. However, jones is unlikely see it this way, so Brown could miss out & he may opt to either fudge with Nowell instead, or he could go with Watson. Anyway, agree with most of the above selection, except I think that Williams will be left out, shields will replace Robshaw, Huges will cover 8, Care will make 3rd 1/2back, Ford will oust Cipriani & Watson will cover 15. I think that that makes 31, but I wouldn’t bet on this either. BTW, there are others like Morgan, Kvesic, Attwood, Dombrandt, Clifford as well a couple of povotsl positional changes I’d make, so it’s not my squad, but it’s close. Don’t see many, any bolters either.




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  8. I’m playing Devil’s advocate here but if Mako doesn’t recover from his injury who should be the third loose head?




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  9. Hi Don, as soon as I saw this article i was desperate to read your take on it!
    Why would Ed leave out Williams? Only two tight heads is sacrilege!




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    1. Got wires xxed, mistook him as a Loose head. It was to make the numbers add up, so maybe a hooker will miss out or another loose head? I know it’s traditional to take shed loads of fr rows, but even if a prop or hooker both get crocked, which is unlikely, there should still be enough cover. May drop a loose fwd instead, but if BV gets injured again, who’s a big enough lump to carry? Wilson, Shields, Hughes? Morgan won’t be selected. So, risk losing a LH prop? Prob unlikely, but whom else to omit?




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  10. Mako
    Genge
    Moon

    Sinckler
    Williams
    Cole

    George
    Hartley
    Cowan-Dickie

    Itoje (c)
    Launchbury
    Lawes
    Kruis

    Robshaw
    T Curry
    Underhill
    B Vunipola
    Wilson

    Youngs
    Care
    Spencer/Robson (depending on who’s fit)

    Farrell
    Cipriani

    Slade
    Tuilagi
    Joseph

    Cokanasiga
    May
    Nowell
    Daly
    Watson

    Alex Goode is undoubtedly a great player for Saracens and well worthy of all the acclaim he’s received. But he’s got 21 England caps, going back to 2012. Surely it can’t be said that he’s not had a chance? I can’t understand how people always bemoan his non-selection.

    Hugely tough on Ford, who is a superb player in his own right but is an unfortunate victim of Leicester’s poor season and Cipriani’s utter brilliance. Don’t like to be one of those who questions every single EJ decision but to have not included Cipriani to this point is… strange.

    Ashton also very unlucky to miss out.

    Slade can cover 10, 12, 13 and maybe even 15 if necessary. Wilson can cover the whole back row.

    Itoje can play back row if needed and is also my choice for captain. Hartley shouldn’t be the starting hooker and Farrell doesn’t need the burden of captaincy as he’s expected to lead in so many other areas.




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    1. PC, not a bad stab @ England’s squad, but unclear if It is yr pick or if it’s what you think Jones’ selection will be. Also, no need for concern about the ‘superb’ Ford, as Cipriani ain’t going to Japan. Not unless Jones does a complete back flip! Regards Goode, don’t see his featuring either. Just because he’s got the Euro player o th yr award, why would Jones pick him? BTW, is yellow yr favourite colour? Must be if Itoje is yr skipper. Agree that Farrell doesn’t need the burden of captaincy, because he’s proved incapable of carrying it. OTOH, yr maligned Hartley is. Surely proved more a decision maker than the other 2 aforementioned put together. Slade & Wilson may cover the back line & back line resistively, but do you really want either doing so in a WC business end game?




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  11. It’s looking like the RWC squad is 90% settled, but the XV most certainly is not. What would people’s line-up be from Henry’s (or other) squad? (With the key word ‘balance’ determining selection).




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    1. Daly, Nowell, Slade, Tuilagi, May, Farrell, Youngs; Mako, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Launchbury, Wilson, Curry, B Vunipola

      Hartley, Genge, Cole, Lawes, Underhill, Spencer, Cipriani, Watson




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      1. No Kruis Peter? He’s been immense for Sarries after a shaky start to the year. I’m not advocating anyone on the strength of one performance but against Leinster he was exceptional.




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  12. Interesting discussion on here guys – I expected Robshaw to be the bone of contention, not Youngs (who I have always rated), but there we go. Plenty of strong feeling; I still think Youngs is the best option at the moment for his all-round game, although I understand how his tendency to crab sideways and sometimes slow delivery irks people (to put it mildly).

    Realised I forgot to mention my captain selection – would have Hartley (if fit) as the squad captain, but not necessarily the match captain. I think those roles can be separated. I’ve said before that I think the captaincy has been revealed as too much of a burden on Farrell and personally would go with Mako Vunipola, or maybe Maro itoje. Anyone have any thoughts on Mark Wilson as captain?




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    1. HK. Youngs & Farrell double handedly kicked England to death, right up to the death, v Wales & (well, as nr as damnit @ home!) the Jocks. You’ve already pointed out some of Youngs’ flaws, yet he’s still yr best 1/2 option. Farrell’s SA temprement, illegal shoulder charges & mindless kicking surely prove he’s incapable of the captain’s ‘burden’. Itoje’s yellow hobby must preclude him too & as for Mako, do you really want a novice captain leading England into a WC? Surely Launchbury would be a better bet. The captain’s role isn’t ceremonial. He needs to be on the pitch, in the thick of it, where he can make decisions. Despite Hartley’s being seen as more or less surplus to requirements by more than a few here, he has a track record for England, he’s led by example, hits his line outs, engages with refs & has kept his head in England action for some yrs now. @ the business end of the WC tournament, an experienced leader is required, not someone who looks the part, comes across as a crowd pleasing favourite or someone who sits on the side line. Wilson, doesn’t fit this bill either. The right captain’s on field options could make the difference between England’s progression or ejection in Japan, so they’d better get their choice right.




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    2. Robshaw is a top player and an outstanding pro. He’s a leader who is vastly experienced and a team man first and foremost. He should be inked into the squad now.
      Youngs has been no better than average for England for a long time now. I’m struggling to think of a really strong performance from him in recent internationals. Fact is, Jones has made it plain he’s his first choice at 9 and has done virtually nothing to develop potential alternatives. Afraid we are stuck with him.
      Wilson as captain would make me very happy.




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  13. I think farrel should remain the ‘squad’ captain as I do believe he is currently rightly or wrongly the heartbeat and soul so to speak of this team, but I do think an on field captain should be elected that’s not farrel to take the pressure off. I’m a strong believer it should be a forward for a few reasons 1) the fly half is already the de facto backs leader 2) a forward is usually already close to the referee so none of this running in business that annoys refs and 3) they just seem to go better historically.

    For that reason I would be happy to see Wilson get it. Feel itoje can be too hot headed and losing your captain for 10 minutes is pretty demoralising. However I would personally go with George … bit of a left field selection but, firstly he is like the duracel bunny and goes and goes. He is a definite starter in my mind. He speaks well, has a good calm temperament and seems to get along with everyone referees included. Lastly judging by some of the articles through 6n and for Saracens he has the respect of the team, always stays positive and can motivate others around him…. think these are all good qualities in a captain ….thoughts?




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    1. That is a call out of left field Alex, but not a bad thought at all. I agree with Don about Itoje, plus he doesn’t need the extra pressure. Farrell is not guaranteed to last the distance when the red mist defends and doesn’t endear himself to refs. Hartley imv has a lot to do as a player in the summer friendlies to be there at all. Mako may not make it because of injury and has no experience which leaves Wilson, who I am not yet completely convinced about, Launchbury, who would be my choice, and your suggestion, George. If Launchbury is an automatic bench pick, maybe we could start with George and Launch could take over when the front row is replaced?




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      1. I think George is a good shout – and tbf he pretty much plays the full 80 most games for England. My concern with Launchbury is he is probably currently 4th in the pecking order of locks so not sure how he could be captain (whether or not we agree with that order)




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      2. Or the other way round Andy. If Launch starts, then Geo could come off the bench. However, wouldn’t that then mean that Hartley would also start, thus obviating the need to name a novice captain @ all? Simples!




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        1. As we have discussed before Don you rate Hartley a lot higher than I do and I think he has a lot to prove about fitness before being in with a shout. Realistically I think Jones will pick Launch on the bench regardless of who the hooker is. Jones doesn’t do simples!




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          1. I think you misread me Andy. It’s not the case that I rate Hartley that highly. I mean, if he’d been good enough he’d have been an AB. However, who is the alternative England captain ? You yrself have dismissed the likes of Itoje, Wilson & Geo. As you rightly point out, they’re unproven, immature etc. You have advocated Launchbury, which makes some sense to me for reasons raised before. However, if you relegate Launch to the bench, then it’s back to Farrell.. & you’ve read comments of others here about that. If you look @ a prev post of mine about Hartley, you may better understand why I wouldn’t just discard him. As I’ve also pointed out though, Jones will probably stick with Farrell, so it doesn’t really matter what we think.




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    2. Don’t understand this ‘heart & soul’ bizzo Alex (not ‘D’ I trust?). Or ‘rightly or wrongly’ either. Perhaps you could define the former, so that the latter needn’t be either or. Think Taffs & Jocks before you respond. IF you respond, of course.




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    3. More thoughts Alex. Yr 1, 2, 3 reasons about a captain being a fwd are subjective. The job needs to go to the best equipped. If he’s the hooker or the full back, or the 1/2back for that matter, it’s surely irrelevant. If the 1/2 is a good enough backs leader, then why not team leader? That a back may have to walk a few more paces to communicate with the ref, so what, so long as he had nous? And just because fwds have traditionally been picked as captains is no reason to not pick a superior backs’ skipper. Been through all this before, but a calm thinker, who reads what’s going right of wrong during a game & can address & articulate the latter clearly, with urgency & pronto, is the man for the job.. whatever his field posi.




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  14. As this blog is about who we would like to see go and not who we think EJ will pick, I am pretty much in agreement with your selection.

    Goode nips it over Ashton / Brown on his ability to cover 10. I’d add Jack Willis to the names of potential ‘bolters’ and in an absolutely ideal scenario, Marler will come out of international retirement if only for the RWC.




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  15. George is a good call? Wilson likewise? Do either even captain their clubs? So why are they good calls then? Because they can play 80? This is subjective, unscientific thinking. How about Nigel Farage, or Boris? Afterall, the latter did tackle a tot once. Can you imagine the AB’s contemplating such nonsense? No wonder there’s such a Brexit pickle with so much similar muddled reasoning. Anyway, Jones will stick with Farrell, so it’s all academic. Too late to change now.




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    1. Hi don, while this may seem like clutching at straws I do believe that George was the captain for the England under 21s squad when they won the under 21s World Cup … also I believe but would be happy to be corrected on this that he has either captained saracens or been vice captain at least and taken the role on pitch?

      This all being said I agree it is an academic argument as EJ will go with farrel or at an outside Hartley for sure as this is a blog website and this is an opinion piece that was asking for speculation I do believe my comment was in the vein of the discussion and that George would potentially make a good candidate, perhaps for after the WC as a future captain as he is fairly young and will make at least the next one? What are your thoughts here?




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      1. Well Alex, my thoughts are that, going into a WC, a team needs an experienced leader. It’s ok when the oppo are being mowed down in the early group stages. The captain doesn’t really need to make critical decisions. However, under duress, in the 1/4 finals or thereafter, a team needs a leader & reader of the game. Someone who has endured prolonged pressure, away & @ the highest level. For example, when England were under the Welsh pump, Farrell (& Youngs) kept, inaccurately, kicking posession away, ensuring defeat. After 1/2 time in that game, they needed to flood the breakdown pronto, to stop the Welsh supply .. & usurp it for themselves. This would have incurred some risk of leaving their ‘D’ exposed, but as momentum had changed, the decision had to be taken to change the game. Farrell, didn’t (or couldn’t suss it IMO) & so England lost when they could have won. Up @ 1/2 time remember? It’s @ pivotal times such as these that a captain has to have the maturity, nous & experience to step up. Therefore, I don’t see Geo, Wilson, Itoje as having these attributes.. certainly not in time for Japan. You may well be right about the future concerning Geo, for instance, but to chuck him into the WC cauldron? This is something akin to chucking a Christian to the Lions IMO. OTOH, I think many miss the point about Hartley in ‘not being the better hooker’. However, he’s the experienced, better captain & for me & that’s the point. England are already hampered by Jones with his intransigence about playing Daly out of posi, ignoring the potentially key play maker Cipriani & by omitting the experienced Billy’s replacement, Morgan, for instance. To land them with a greenhorn captain too? Mmmm?




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        1. Going to agree with Don here, making anyone other than those with a track record as captain this close to the world cup would be total madness. Potentially as disruptive as picking a newly converted league recruit over many more seasoned campaigners. I can’t see Jones making the same mistakes as Lancaster in this regard and George maybe a long-term option but at present he is still only a senior player at best for Saracens, in fact I would put him in the ‘trusty lieutenant’ category (behind Barritt, Itoje, Farrell, Kruis, Burger) – it would be quite an adjustment for him to go from that position at club level to being many of those players national captain, and potentially leaves him open to being undermined by strong willed players such as Farrell. What we need is someone who can tell people to take a different tack when one is clearly not working (eg half backs relentless kicking at the tail end of the 6N’s) – the only person I can see with the credentials to do this is Hartley.

          Other people with claims:

          Itoje – I think he needs to grow up a bit, I don’t mind the indiscipline, but the whooping, hollering and disrespecting of opposition is not a mark of a true leader.

          Launchbury – possibly the antithesis of Itoje as a personality which in my mind doesn’t make him assertive enough to be a national captain. And is his place guaranteed…?

          Farrell / Youngs – just look at the 6N’s for evidence that they shouldn’t be anywhere near the leadership group.

          So for me it is Hartley for now. George perhaps in the long term but I think we should be looking at developing someone like Underhill or Curry beyond RWC 2019




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        1. boom, tish! Nice one…
          On the subject at hand, I think we all know that “FAZ”will be coin tosser in chief in Japan. We will all be hostages to fortune and Ed’s short sighted approach again ,that being the case. What worries me and i know. it’s been discussed on this blog before, is the lack of leaders throughout the squad.




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  16. SJ, It seems that many look @ individuals in isolation as players & likewise, those in contention as potential captains. However, it’s what’s in the team’s best interest that is important. Therefore, the various names put fwd, although they may or may not be the ‘best’ in their positions, they may be best suited to overall team cohesion. Hence, for me, Hartley’s starting as captain in Japan is the only realistic option. However, the rub with this belief is, Jones has a contrary POV. He’ll likely stick with Farrell!




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    1. I think your argument is undermined by the case of Ciaran Fitzgerald and the 1983 Lions Don. Peter Wheeler and Colin Deans were both clearly better hookers but Fitzgerald was selected for his supposed captaincy skills having led Ireland to the 5 nations title that year. He simply was not up to the job and the Lions got hammered 4 nil. Inc you pick the best players and make one of them captain.




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      1. Andy, are you suggesting that if the Lions had chosen 1 of the other hookers, they would have won the NZ series? Besides, the 1st 3 tests were relatively close & it was only in the last game that ‘they got hammered’. Picking an isolated fact, as you did, is not indicative of a trend, or the norm.




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        1. No Don, I am not suggesting that, but they would at least have been led by someone who deserved his place as a player and earned the respect of his team mates. Fitzgerald “disappeared” on that tour, as players tend to when they are playing a level above their abilities. Not an”isolated fact” but an example of when supposed leadership skills were less important than being a class player as Wheeler had demonstrated he was on the previous Lions Tour.




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          1. Andy, wasn’t Fitzgerald captain of the Irish side that won the slam @ Twick v the England side, which presumably included Wheeler? And it’s only yr implying that neither Fitz or Hartley was or is respected by team mates. Wasn’t Hartley also skipper of the English team that went 17 in a row & in Oz? Seemingly less, including you, had such a downer on him then. And I still don’t see that the isolated NZ, Lions series is particularly relevant. Cherry picking an ‘example’ to suit yr belief is unscientific. Anyway, this all brings us back to who, @ least in theory, is going to captain England in Japan. If novices are to be discounted & Launchbury is not 1st choice, then likely it’s back to the incumbent Farrell. Does he command widespread respect, including that of his team? Has he demonstrated that he can retain composure under pressure? Likewise, has he ‘read’ games & made decisions to alter their courses (as per Wales & Scotland)? Does he sound convincing in after match q & answer sessions as to how & why games panned out as they did (like v, you’ve got it)? Put into this context & then compared with Farrell, Hartley doesn’t seem quite such a detrimental option as you paint him to be. More so perhaps, when you don’t appear to have considered the content of my other posts on this issue. Make no mistake & certainly IMO, England have a real captaincy dilemma here. An error in choosing the appropriate captain could have dire consequences @ the business end of the WC. A decision not to choose a scrum or line out rather than kicking @ goal, for vital points, could have fatal consequences. And England certainly don’t need another indecisive Robshaw do they?




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            1. The answer to most of your questions re Farrell ok is clearly “no” Don. I totally agree that there is a real dilemma. The Lions was a step up from the five nations just as the World Cup is a step up from the Six Nations. If Hartley had been playing and playing well in the past three months I would agree that he would probably be a shoo in. However he hasn’t, and did not look in particularly convincing form before he got injured. To be on the plane imv he has to at least play in all the summer friendlies and show that he is fit and in form. George has had an absolutely outstanding season and deserves to start, and there are several other hookers who are better. Hartley has played very little rugby, has had concussion and a long term injury, and needs to prove he is not shot at anywhere near top level. We already look as if we are going to pick inferior players at 9, 10, and 15. I don’t want us picking our fifth or sixth best hooker just because he is supposedly a good captain.




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              1. Well Andy, I’ve assumed that Hartley WILL be fit. If not, then his inclusion is a non starter of course. In part, I also was foreseeing Jones’ conservative nature in his sticking with his past picks. However, who knows with the irrational, contrary one? Agree that England have, unnecessarily & also down to Jones IMO, other issues which you highlight. Have to see how selection pans out.




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  17. I know that it is tantamount to heresy for any Bath supporter to agree with anything that Barnes says but his article in the ST sums up the case perfectly,namely that he trusts Ford more than Cipriani which is why Ford will go.However I believe both should go.When the game plan breaks down and an instinctive player is needed is the biggest damnation of Farrell imaginable-It shows how important Barret is to Saracens.In my Humble opinion Farrell should be told to play 12 or go and sulk on the bench.In any case Farrell should be nowhere the captaincy.
    Since the 6 nations I have watched a lot of Leicester,and whilst May and Ford have really stepped upto the plate Tuilagis play has been shocking and should be nowhere near the WC squad.If EJ needs heft he has got the options of using Teo and Big Joe.At 11,13,14,and 15 we don’t have any problems they can mix and match accordingly though Daly will probably have to go on the wing as EJ will want Watsons better ability in the air,.12,as always is problematic(Cant we reincarnate Greenwood and Catt ?)
    With the Forwards I would like to take Ben Morgan over Robshaw-he has the pace, heft and flexibility and Billys chances of going through a whole tournament unscathed I would put at non-Existent.
    In my playing days I always preferred A teak hard experienced forward as captain who could bang heads together if required-some may argue that things have changed,they have but not much -The rugby field is still a battleground!.My choice would be Mark Wilson if Hartley is not up to the mark.




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    1. Presumably those who voted Cip P o t Yr trusted him more than Barnes does. More than I trust Ford, as IMO, he has a tendancy to fold under pressure. Like Farrell. Most do, maybe Cip too. However the latter can straighten, stand the oppo up, time his pass, chip or break outside like the other 2 can only dream of. That’s why, again IMO, he won’t go to Japan. Perverse? You bet, but when it comes right down to it, England don’t trust the gifted. Fear of losing thing. The potential ‘risk’ taker? Far better to go with the pragmatic. Midfield & No. 8 cover? An/other issue/s. Trouble with teak hard fwd captains banging heads together is, they may have & bang teak hard brains together as well.




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      1. Very sad and probably true Don.I was ruthlessly taught from 11 that the Rugby players brain was his greatest asset.The trouble with modern coaching is that players are looking for answers in the playbook instead of reading the game in front of them-In other words be proactive as opposed to being reactive.




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    2. JS10, belatedly read the Barnes article you ref. However, the enlightened, small, fat round 1 actually opined that Cipriani was in fact not a ‘yes’ man. This would annoy & undermine the Okker’s ego to the extent that Jones would rather pick his grandad than Cip. Additionally, according to Stupot, Ford & particularly Farrell, are ‘yes’ men whom stick to the plan & thus get picked. Cip, OTOH, when told to perform a certain, rigid tactic (like kicking to defeat v Wales), would ask ‘why’? And get right up Jones’ hooter (remind you of any big, blonde, blustery American?). So, I don’t see it that Barnes trusts F&F more than Cip. Especially when he actually advocated that Ford ?’s Ed’s instructions more.. like, er, Cip would have done.




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  18. Well, there has to be a plan (or playbook) JS, also a scenario & an alt plan if the original doesn’t work. There also have to be players (incl a captain?) whom can grasp this sit early on & change the things they can. Like retaining instead of kicking possession, flooding the breakdown, exiting scrum ball pronto, short line outs to max the ball with innovative handling moves, breaks, wraps, back 3 line entires, astute chips etc. But as you state, it’s about ‘reading what’s in front’ 1st.




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