An England team for the Autumn Internationals

With the announcement of England’s squad for the Autumn Internationals set to take place tomorrow morning, we’ve put together the team we think Stuart Lancaster should pick to take on Australia in the first game. What do you make of it?

15: Ben Foden
The Northampton fullback has had a torrid time with injuries over the past few seasons, but is finally back in form with a run of games under his belt. He has a counter-attacking ability surpassed by few, and has a proven ability to change games at this level – something neither Alex Goode nor Mike Brown can claim.

14: Marland Yarde
The London Irish youngster has propelled himself to the top of the wingers list. If he was in contention before the start of the season, he is now surely a starter. His finishing ability is well documented, but it is his power and work rate, both at the breakdown and in the loose, that sets him above his rivals.

13: Kyle Eastmond
With Manu Tuilagi out, this was the toughest position to fill. Not for want of contenders, mind you. Joel Tomkins and Luther Burrell came very close, while Henry Trinder and Elliot Daly are both wildcard options, but possibly need a little more exposure at the top level. Eastmond gets my vote, despite not having played a great deal at 13. With Twelvetrees’ distribution inside him, the prospect of Eastmond having space to use his footwork and combine with Foden and Yarde outside him is tantalising. His versatility may see him start on the bench, but I’d give him a go from the off.

12: Billy Twelvetrees
Pretty much a shoo-in. Luther Burrell has been brilliant for Northampton, but Twelvetrees has credit in the bank and experience aplenty from last year’s Six Nations, meaning the Saints’ man is more likely to get a look-in at 13. Twelvetrees ticks all the boxes, and given a bit more time has the potential to mature into a great player.

11: Chris Ashton
The clamour for Wade has just quietened a little this season, as his freshly-exposed defensive frailties, Yarde’s emergence, and the form of the two Saracens wingers have overshadowed him somewhat. Ashton is the man everyone loves to hate, but there’s no denying his form this season. He’ll be pushed very close by Dave Strettle, and to be honest, on early season form they both deserve a chance.

10: Owen Farrell
Farrell has been the conductor of Saracens’ relentless march to the top of the Premiership, and has looked a more accomplished player after his summer with the Lions. He is still a conservative option, no doubt, but is the right man to take England forwards for now – at least until Freddie Burns rediscovers some sort of form.

9: Lee Dickson
Dickson has started the season superbly well and deserves a shot at an England start. He has been keeping Fotuali’i out of the team at the Saints, and has made several eye-catching performances against quality sides so far. Youngs and Care will be all the better for a third option at scrum-half, and neither have been particularly excellent this season.

1: Alex Corbisiero
As obvious a choice as any on this teamsheet, Corbisiero has taken to the new scrummaging laws like the proverbial duck to water. He’s added more to his game outside of the scrum as well, offering himself more often as a carrier, and managed to bundle over for a try in the East Midlands derby not long ago. Mako Vunipola is the explosive option, but as was proved on the Lions tour is best used as an impact sub.

2: Tom Youngs
Youngs should see off the challenge of Hartley for the hooker berth. He is desperately difficult to knock backwards with ball in hand, owing to his low centre of gravity, and he must have one of the best workrates of any forward in the world right now. Has banished the lineout demons that plagued him this time last year.

3: Dan Cole
Cole’s star has faded somewhat from a couple of seasons ago, but he is still the undisputed first choice at tighthead for England. He is, for the most part, excellent in the scrums and there are few scrummaging experts who offer so much in the loose, both in terms of carrying and at the breakdown.

4: Joe Launchbury
He faded badly towards the end of last season, which probably cost him a Lions place, but this year’s Launchbury seems seriously revitalised. He gets through the work of a back-row forward, while also offering an excellent option at the line-out. Courtney Lawes and Dave Attwood will push hard, but he should see off their challenges.

5: Geoff Parling (C)
The line-out maestro’s selection becomes even more entrenched with his fellow soarer of the skies Tom Croft out injured, and for this reason he would be my captain – especially with the uncertainty potentially surrounding the back-row. What goes unnoticed is the hard work he does away from the set piece, where his mobility is surprisingly good and his defence is excellent. Part of the senior leadership group and first name on the teamsheet for me.

6: Tom Wood
Tom Croft’s injury and Gloucester’s poor form alleviates Lancaster’s selection dilemma in the back-row somewhat. Wood has played well for the Saints so far this season, and his leading of a successful tour party to Argentina will count for lots in Lancaster’s book.

7: Chris Robshaw
Had Kvesic really grasped his chance at Gloucester, Robshaw may have been gone. As it is, playing behind such a weak front five, the Gloucesterman has not done that and does not deserve to start ahead of Robshaw, who has plenty of ‘credit in the bank’ with Lancaster – something we all know means, rightly or wrongly, a lot to him.

8: Billy Vunipola
Another to benefit from Gloucster’s poor form, Vunipola has leapfrogged Ben Morgan in the competition for England’s no.8 spot. He is brutishly strong, and his time playing on the blindside for Saracens can only have done his workrate and fitness good.

16: Dylan Hartley – brings leadership and a fiery aggression from the bench.
17: Mako Vunipola – the ultimate impact sub; no team will want to deal with him 60 minutes into a test match.
18: Henry Thomas – has made a storming start to the season with Sale, and is a more viable long-term option than Dave Wilson (who is, admittedly, unlucky to miss out).
19: Dave Attwood – a return to the form of a few years ago sees him beat Lawes to the bench spot.
20: Matt Kvesic – Lancaster will keep the faith with Kvesic, despite a poor start to the season and the strong challenge of Will Fraser.
21: Danny Care – has shown better form this season than Ben Youngs, and brings that much-talked about ‘X Factor’ from the bench.
22: Toby Flood – in sublime form for the Tigers, Flood will provide a calm head and a willingness to attack the gainline. Burns simply not in good enough form at the moment.
23: Christian Wade – deserves a tast of international rugby purely on his finishing ability, and with Eastmond able to cover so many positions he could get a shot from the bench. Jonny May also pushing hard after a barnstorming return from injury.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

60 thoughts on “An England team for the Autumn Internationals

  1. England always have the “bosher” at 13 (as do Bath), so for me a centre-partnership of 36 and Eastmond would represent a big shift of playing style. Personally, I’d go for 36 and Burrell, with Eastmond on the bench – he can create havoc as the game breaks up, not to mention the fact he can cover 10, 12, wing and fullback.

  2. This is a tantLisingly strong team that I simply can’t disagree with. I hope to see the same for the Celtic sides, especially Scotland. Even Italy are starting to unearth a few young gems that look set to take the azzuri to higher levels of competitiveness. The French have a scary amount of options too and injuries have forced gatlands hand for Wales too. These autumn internationals look set to lay the foundations for some brutally exciting years of rugby ahead for all the northern hemisphere sides. Dreaming of how some of the sides will look after more years to gel and mature is breathtakingly tantalising. Time to save some cash for some World Cup tickets I think…

  3. Interesting selection. I’d go:

    1. Corbs. 2. Youngs. 3. Cole. 4. Launchbury. 5. Parling. 6. Wood. 7. Robshaw. 8. Vunipola. 9. Youngs. 10. Farrell. 11. Wade. 12. Twelvetrees. 13. Eastmond. 14. Ashton. 15. Foden.
    16. Hartley. 17. Vunipola. 18. Wilson. 19. Lawes. 20. Morgan. 21. Dickson. 22. Flood. 23. Brown

    Ben Youngs has to be in there for me. Hasn’t been spectacular this season, but then he has only played a couple of matches after being rested at the beginning of the season. He is the only 9 we have with a “complete” game.

    I think ‘credit in the bank’ will get Brown and Wilson bench spots. Wilson performed will in Argentina, and Brown seems to be someone SL likes. Any of Parling, Wood or Robshaw could be captain. I’d prefer Wood but I can see why Parling or Robshaw could get it.

    Wade edges it for me over Yarde, although I’ve pretty much changed my mind on this from week to week so by the time the game comes around I’ll probably go Yarde.

    Morgan and Lawes offer more impact to a game than either Kvesic or Attwood do for me – plus I would not trust Vunipola to last 80 minutes in a test match.

  4. Anyone other than Mike Brown would be incredibly harsh on current form. By far Quins’ outstanding player this season. Can’t argue with much else, except that the wings are the wrong way round.

  5. It was interesting to read the review of the Quins v Scarlets game on ESPN Scrum, where the writer stated that he thought Brown’s performance in defeat will have cemented his place as the England fulback.

    We shall see, but it would not surprise me to see Foden chosen on the wing. Whilst I generally don’t agree with choosing players out of position, I think I might in this case as he makes a better wing than Brown and I can see Lancaster wanting them both on the field. Plus Ashton’s defence at international level still has massive question marks hanging over it. Either that or Foden will be on the bench for cover.

    Whilst I think the the locks will be Parling and Launchbury, this area concerns me a bit. Do they have the power to stand up to players like Etzebeth, Kruger, Retaillick and Whitelock? I think this combo lacks a bit of grunt in the tight stuff, so would like to see Attwood or Lawes in there – both of whom have had good starts to the season. Launchbury has all the attributes but needs to add some bulk and power to his game.

    Below is the team i think Lancaster will choose / team I would choose:

    1. Corb
    2. Youngs
    3. Cole
    4. Launchbury / Attwood
    5. Parling
    6. Wood
    7. Robshaw (c)
    8. Morgan / Vunipola
    9. Youngs / Dickson
    10. Farrell
    11. Foden
    12. 36
    13. Burrell / Eastmond
    14. Yarde
    15. Brown

    16. Hartley
    17. M Vunipola
    18. Wilson
    19. Lawes
    20. Ksevic / B Vunipola
    21. Care
    22. Flood / Ford
    23. Eastmond / Wade

    Ford is the future and needs to start getting some experience – if he was a Kiwi he’d have probably had a cap or two by now

    1. Launchbury & Parling aren’t a huge pairing, but switching Marler for Corbs does strengthen the tight 5 a lot. Whilst Lawes is really abrasive and hits very hard he’s quite slight/rangy is well, so not really someone to call in to add grunt in the tight. If we are still underpowered then I think we have to look to Wilson and Attwood.

      Regarding Ford, lets keep things in perspective, if he was a Kiwi he would be competing against Carter, Cruden, Slade, Barrett, etc for the shirt, I’m not so sure he would have a cap or 2.

      1. On the lock on their ‘grunt’, I think Lawes is the only one who can really say they add that.
        Launchbury and Attwood both weigh exactly the same at 115kg, Parling is 114kg and Lawes is heaviest at 118kg (that is not slight or rangy!). But to put some international context on it – Etzebeth is 123kg, different level!

        Weight isn’t everything when we talk about grunt, obviously it is also the attitude and style of player. But the difference in weight is so slight between the English locks that it is almost irrelevant. Until a lock 120kg plus comes along demanding selection – we just need to pick the best players we have. Which I think is Parling and Lauchbury.

        1. Agree we should pick the best players, we don’t have anyone Etzebeth/Retallick/Gray/AWJ sized who is putting their hand up. I’m surprised Lawes is the heaviest of the quartet, he’s a superbly conditioned athlete, but just doesn’t seem to carry much weight on his legs/hips/core.

          For now we’ll have to leave Gatland to having a selection weigh in :-)

          1. I was actually thinking that Lawes was looking a little bulkier from the bits I have seen of him this season. All Locks fill out as they mature (indeed as we all do!), and it wasn’t that long ago that the likes of Gray and Etzebeth looked more gangly than they have become.

          2. Lawes is huge and hits like a steam train. No idea why you thought he was smaller!

            And to be fair – just looked and AWJ is 1kg heavier than Lawes.

            I don’t think it is that big of an issue. The only reason it is being highlighted is the performance in Cardiff. With Corbs back, and an actual number 8 playing, this shouldn’t happen again. We also need to remember that the game was a one off in how well Wales played. Not that they are usually poor, but they were a different level that day and would have beaten anyone.

            1. For me its an attitude thing. Whitelock is 114 kg, Botha 116 and Ali Williams 113. Yet they all play as if they are up there with the big locks in weight and strength

              Attwood seems to me to have the right attitude

              To throw some other names into the hat – all of whom are on the larger side of locks


              1. I almost threw Slater out there earlier – bit he has played 6 a lot for Leicester which has probably hindered his chances. Realistically it is between Parling, Launchbury, Lawes and Attwood. Parling is a definite so actually we have those three fighting for the other shirt. Launchbury has it for me at the moment, with Lawes on the bench.

                I agree that it is an attitude thing though. I mentioned that in an earlier post on here. England could do with a player with the attitude and aggression that Etzebeth and Ali Williams show. That Martin Johnson use to show! But for now…this is what we have!

                Still, remember the days when Louis Deacon got a look in?

                1. Graham Kitchener, anyone? Never seems to have a bad game for Tigers, although he is very much part of the rotation policy there so won’t get a long series of starts. Has great hands and a good turn of pace, but as everyone has said he’s possibly not what England need right now as his game is quite similar to Launchbury’s.

        2. Erm… Lawes is not 118kg – if we are going by the most recent RFU listings – he is 111kg.
          Whereas Attwood is 1cm taller and 7kg heavier at 118kg.

          Forget about their listed weights.
          LOOK at the difference in size between them.
          Compare Attwood’s build to all the others – there is a very clear difference.

          More importantly… watch them play and look at their stats.

          Last season in the premiership Attwood beat 19 defenders in 23 matches.
          Lawes beat 4 in 18.

          Dave is also Bath’s primary lineout caller – something we need if anyone is to be on the bench.

          1. I relied on google for my stats – if your type in a name and weight it just gives you it. May well be wrong of course.

            Lawes is not a primary ball carrier for Saints to be fair. They use Manoa, Hartley and this season Dickinson more often than not. So hardly fair to compare those stats. Lawes physicality is in his defense. Not number of tackles but the amount of times he smashed players.

            I would still have Launchbury and Parling over either of them mind you. You can flip a coin on who takes the bench spot.

            Also, Attwood being a line out caller is completely irrelevant. Parling has this job for England and that will not chance any time soon.

            1. You’re right – Lawes isn’t used as a primary carrier because he is vulnerable/poor as one.
              Although he has certainly improved his technique this season, and has been much more effective.

              Attwood’s main strength isn’t his carrying anyway.
              It’s his ruck and set-piece work.

              Bath’s mauls have been potent with him in control of them.
              And his scrummaging partnership with Wilson is extremely powerful.

              England aren’t really calling out for a monster tackler (as much as it’s awesome to have).
              We need someone who can provide what Attwood does – traction.
              Lancaster has talked before about being able to play in different ways.
              This is one such style that we need to add to our repertoire.

              1. Forgot to add:

                It is important to have a lineout caller on the bench IMO.
                Because Launchbury has little to no experience as one if Parling gets injured.
                Remember that the bench is their to replace just as much as it is to effect.

                Also, you need to bear in mind that Lawes has failed to function at international level more often than he has succeeded.
                I am a big fan of Lawes – I just don’t think England need him and even if they did he has done little to show that he can be relied upon to deliver his potential.

              2. It’s good points well made Tom, if we still struggle in the tight 5 then I think we have to look at Wilson for Cole first then Attwood for Launchbury.

                I think Wilson may overtake Cole by the 6N, with Tigers not being able to rotate Castro/Cole it’s going to be a long attritional season for him.

          2. I’m a Lawes fan, because he’s nasty. Any half backs loitering close to the gain line or slow getting the ball away are going to get hurt. His pace, work rate, tackle count, tackle impact and line out work are the reasons to pick him though, not his bulk.

            I’m hoping B. Vunipola brings a bit of a nasty edge to the pack this year as we really do lack brutality upfront.

            1. I tend to agree with most points. Other than Lawes under performing; I think he has done good job in and England shirt. Obviously he got made to look stupid when put at 6 in the last 6 nations; but still, hardly his fault. I’d stand by Launchbury/Parling, and potentially give both Attwood and Lawes a chance in the Autumn to state a bench spot.

              The Wilson/Cole one could get interesting. Cole hasn’t been particularly impressive for a while now, whilst Wilson was fantastic in Argentina.

              These are all good problems to have.

      2. Sorry Matt, wasn’t clear there. I’m not saying that he is as good as Carter, Cruden, etc but that the kiwis bring their talent on a lot earlier

        Were Cruden or Slade English, they might have just made it as far as the Saxons in the time they’ve been playing senior rugby

        1. People talk about England’s large player base like we should be constantly #1 in the world, but I think it’s more of a hindrance. There’s a lot of talent out there, but you can only develop so much of it… When the player base is smaller, it allows you to more easily identify talent. Add to that the fact there are 12 Premiership teams and so, in theory, 12 players in each position (I know not in practice), the selectors do have a tough job – especially as development starts at a young age.

          1. Geat – agreed totally. Because of our larger player base, players don’t have the same length of time to get established as the next wunderkind is just around the corner. Not only that but units get established. Welsh back row, or centres immediately spring to mind. Come to think of it the whole Welsh team! This is the AB model. Introduce new talent into a settled team and it is much easier to grow. Introduce new talent into a team that is always changing and it is much harder.

        2. I don’t think Cockerill is good at bringing talent through, and Ford has had to move on to develop (as did 36), but bringing young guys in is something Lancaster has been excellent at thus far.

          Wade, Yarde, Farrell, M. Vunipola, B. Vunipola, Kvesic, Burns, Marler, Launchbury are all recent age group group graduates and the likes of Morgan and Eastmond coming in are hardly long in the tooth either.

          So whilst it’s historically been an issue at national level I don’t think this is where the problem currently is.

          At club level however some clubs (Wasps, Quins, Chiefs for example) seem to do a much better job with young talent than others and this is where I think we have bigger issues. The lack of Saxons games doesn’t help either.

  6. Just realised I had B Vunipola in their twice. Short of cloning him, would have Fraser on the bench rather than Ksevic (I have assumed that its too early to put Dave Ewers there)

  7. Henry Thomas can’t scrummage out of a paper bag, he will never get more than few England caps in an emergency, and Dave Wilson should be starting ahead of Cole on form so your tighthead picks are all wrong.

    Foden isn’t showing anywhere near the form of a few years ago and Brown is the best fullback in the Premiership. Foden is kicking far more than he used to and what made him so dangerous was when he ran the ball, hardly does it with any great effect anymore.

    Definitely no Henry Thomas though.

  8. 1. Corbs
    2. Youngs
    3. Cole
    4. Launchbury
    5. Parling
    6. Wood
    7. Robshaw (c)
    8. Vunipola
    9. Youngs
    10. Farrell (But he has to attack the line more, as we saw some glimpses of in the summer)
    11. Yarde
    12. 36
    13. Burrell / Tomkins (Was favouring Burrell until the weekend)
    14. Wade
    15. Foden

    16. Hartley
    17. M Vunipola
    18. Wilson (deserves some game time off the bench, think he could put pressure on Cole for the starting shirt)
    19. Lawes
    20. Kvesic (form against Argentina was good enough to see him tested against in a ‘full’ international)
    21. Dickson (brings a different style off the bench)
    22. Flood (I really struggle with this one, Flood has the cycle of looking of looking good off the bench, winning the shirt back and then being ‘meh’. I’m tempted to give Ford a go)
    23. Eastmond (Dynamism off the bench when the game is breaking up, I would not be sitting comfortably if he starts and has the job of keeping Kuindrani quiet)

    No Brown for me, he’s been good for club for a long time, but come up short for country. We need someone who can provide and finish at international level and that has to be Foden.

    Leaving Ashton out is trickier. It’s great he’s getting some form back and looking like a credible option again, but just 2 years out from an RWC we have to find out if/which of Wade/Yarde is the real deal. Wade has run in too many tries over the last couple of years to leave out (and if we are picking Ashton over him on defensive grounds then I’m really worried!) and Yarde has made such an explosive start to his international career and season he has earned the opportunity.

  9. Just a bit concerned that we appeared a bit lightweight in our front 5 with Youngs, Cole, Launchbury and Parling both in the scrum and loose. Not sure if this was just my perception bearing in mind the comments above. However if England are facing a real scrummaging outfit I would probably go for Hartley, Wilson and Attwood in place of Youngs, Cole and Launchbury. Having said that, I’m not really on top of how the new scrummaging laws have affected the various front row players and whether they have helped or hindered so far, now that the hit has been removed. I also thought that Burrell would have shaded 13 with his early season form.

    Having said that, I don’t think that any of our options are too shabby, and we’ve actually got as good depth as I can ever remember in the squad.

    1. At the very least, it’s good we’ve got enough depth in the centres to not be considered players of the calibre of Noon or Erinle.

      1. Geat, I think that Jamie Noon would be disappointed to fall in to the same category as Ayoola Erinle. Whilst he was no Phillipe Sella, he wasn’t terrible.

        I recall him scoring 3 tries against Scotland, and for all of his limitations there are very few players that can boast international hat-tricks.

        Rather Jamie Noon than Hape, (old) Farrell, Banahan, Baxendell and Greenstock (for those of you with good memories).

        1. No, Noon wasn’t terrible, but he was incredibly one dimensional! Henry Paul had a couple of good games and so did Farrell, but none of the players after Guscott/Greenwood ever had any proper vision/feel for the game, although I suspect that in a couple of instances it was coached out of them – defensive line and all that.

  10. I think that the reality is that Lancaster will look to try a few players out in some of these contentious positions, where there appears to be some very close calls.

    Wing, FB, Centre, Lock etc

    I don’t think that he will want to play the same XV for all games. As, indeed, nether will their clubs!

    Wings and Full back are particularly tricky to call, as all of the leading contenders appear to be in form at the moment.

    1. Yes hope he gives a few people a chance, but don’t want him to change too much – see my comments above.

      Personally I think that the Lock and FB options are pretty tried and tested, and it is just a case of picking the players in form. Centre and wing should have the odd change to assess players hopefully.

  11. My team would be (drum roll…)

    1. Corbs
    2. T.Youngs
    3. Cole
    4. Lawes (just on current form)
    5. Parling (c) – totally agree Parling should be captain. Too much uncertainty over the back row, if Croft comes back from injury and forces Wood out (note the ‘if’) then we are back to square one picking a captain!
    6. Wood
    7. Robshaw
    8. B. Vunipola
    9. Youngs
    10. Farrell
    11. Yarde
    12. 36
    13. Daly (my wildcard! Also wouldn’t mind Tomkins. But think Lancaster will go Burrell)
    14. Ashton
    15. Brown (Foden a close second)

    16. Hartley
    17. M. Vunipola
    18. Wilson
    19. Launchbury
    20. Kvesic
    21. Care (offers more from the bench- if Dickson gets in the squad he has to start, not an impact sub)
    22. Flood (pretty inexperienced back line so having a few caps on the bench is a good shout)
    23. Eastmond/Foden

    As people have stated above, really disagree with the whole ‘Parling & lunchbury are too lightweight’ (I have only picked Lawes as he has found some great form this season, and would be happy with Launchbury), Parling scrummages in one of the most dominant packs in Europe with Leicester. The Welsh demolition was more down to a comparatively light non-no.8 (wood) playing out of position and M. Vunipola not being as good a scrummager as Corbs. Corbs starting and the haaauge B. Vunipola at 8 should sort that problem (or Morgan is he was on form).

    Lacking just a little bit of South African style thuggary that I miss from the old school England, but plenty of exciting talent in there!

    1. I would have referred to it as SA style thuggery but with a hint of British reserve. It was there but never on display in an ostentatious way. But by golly if it had to come out then sure as eggs is eggs, johnny foreigner was going to get a damn good biff on the nose. I will now return from the 1950’s!

  12. Parling as captain.
    Am I right in thinking only 3 changes are likely to be made – Barritt, Tuilagi and Croft out? Is anyone else injured?
    Number 8 is a worry. Would love to see Lancaster throw the ultimate curveball and pick Ewers for Croft #nochance

    1. I believe he can draft people in for injured Saxons as well? Anthony Allen has just been ruled out (yet another centre), Haskell and Tait are also out.

      Would love Ewers to be picked… Him and Dickinson are the form 8s but in the Heineken Ewers stepped up a level, whilst Dickinson kinda faded.

      1. Lots of noise being made about Ewers and Dickinson, and rightly so, but let’s not forget that Billy V has been excellent as well. A couple of games at 6, but handled the positional shift very well and has been his usual brutish self since moving back to 8. The shirt is very much his at the moment.

        1. Very true, but we always like to champion a new horse, Stuart Barnes style (last year ‘Burns is the future of English Fly-halves’, now hes forgotten about Burns and its Ford who is the saviour of English rugby). New is always better for us armchair critics…

    2. I’m an Exeter fan but think for his long term development it’s best not to select Ewers yet. It’s his first season as first choice so the rest during LV and just more experience at Perm level will do him good.

  13. Agree Twelvetrees will come in for Barritt, and I think Burrell is a more like-for-like swap for Manu, and Lancaster will probably go down that route with Eastmond on the bench.

    I wouldn’t put Lee Dickson at 9 for the same reason that you haven’t picked Brown, namely that Dickson (like Brown) doesn’t have a proven ability to win games at this level whereas Youngs and Care (like Foden) do. The choice is between the two.

    Other than that, I by and large agree with your team, although I’d have Wood as my captain.

  14. I think more likely that Ashton will be selected at 14, with Yarde moving to 11. Yarde played at 11 for the Argie tests, and to my knowledge Ashton has not played at 11? Agree with the selection though.
    I do think that Jonny May is probably still behind Strettle at the mo. Glos’s poos form and Strettles recent try scoring record means May will probably have to stay in the Saxons.

    1. Dazza, to be fair May is performing exceptionally well in a struggling Glos team. That says a great deal. He’s certainly one of the form wings at the moment, but seems to have picked a time to shine when several others are also looking good, more’s the pity. So I don’t expect him to break through in the AI’s short of a massive run of injuries.

      As far as Strettle goes, I’m a fan of his, but he does seem to flatter to deceive a bit in an England shirt. Personally unless the options are looking thin, I would move on from him.

  15. 1) Corbisiero
    2) Young’s
    3) Cole
    4) Launchbury
    5) Parking
    6) Wood
    7) Robshaw
    8) Vunipola
    9) Dickson
    10) Farrell
    11) Yarde
    12) Twelvetrees
    13) Burrell
    14) Ashton
    15) Foden

    With Vunipola, Hartley, Thomas, Lawes, Johnson, Care, Flood and Eastmond on the bench. Lawes because he offers more impact, and Johnson simply because he has started the season better than Kvesic has.

  16. Good team all in all,

    I like all the players but not the blend:

    3 changes:

    Launchbury, he is a great player but if we are to pick Parling, and we have to, we need more grunt. I would go with Lawes, he is in fin form and can add a harder edge to the pack.

    Robshaw, Mr safe we know what he offers but England will not win the world cup with Robshaw at 7, Kvesic hasn`t played well but he has the potential to be a great 7 and I don`t want us to arrive 10 games before the WC and people saying that he hasn`t the experience.

    Eastmond, could be an option for 12, but 12t`s is in a better position, I would go with Trinder, same reason as Kvesic, he could do it and needs to be risked.

    other than that I like the team

    1. I absolutely think England can win a World Cup with Robshaw at 7 as long as the backrow is balanced. He has been England’s best player for the last two seasons. He is England’s most consistent player since he seems to always play well. He is about as well rounded a flanker as one can be because he tackles well, is good over the ball, passes well, is a good link player, a good ball carrier, and an intelligent player. There are no weaknesses in his game. I feel that he is grossly unappreciated.

  17. Corbs is now out so can we expect to see Mako starting at 1 with Marler coming off the bench? I wouldn’t say that Marler is a much better scrummager than Mako and although Marler is a good player it concerns me how often he seems to be looking for a scrap on the field. I wouldn’t mind seeing twelvetrees and Tompkins as the centre pairing, think that they could form a good if not temporary partnership.

    1. Losing Corbs is a huge blow – you could see the difference he made in the first and third Lions tests, and of course the only AI we had him for last year was *that* performance against New Zealand.

      I don’t rate Marler, he’s not a particularly good scrummager and he’s miles below Mako and Corbs in the loose (both in terms of work-rate and just general handling skills). But that’s probably the way it’ll be,

      1. I also still have concerns about the weight of the second row. I wouldn’t mind seeing launch berry bulking up a bit, even if it means he loses a bit of pace. I don’t think having a massive back row solves the problem as I would prefer a mobile back row unit to a mobile second row pairing.

        1. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah. The one player I didnt want injured! Apparently he is out for 3 weeks, so here’s hoping that was a pessimistic estimate and he will be back for New Zealand. He’s used to coming back to match fitness from injury so I would have no quams about bringing him straight in the moment he’s given the all clear by the doctor.

      2. Annoyed about Corbs. But disagree with you about Marler. He proved on the Argie tour that he could scrummage. Yes he got done by Adam Jones, but there are quite a few props who can say that.

        As for in the loose – he has always been more involved than Corb who is only now starting to throw his weight around. Marler has great hands for a big guy and offloads and supports very well for Quins

        Sure, Vunipola is better in the loose but here’s Marler unleashing a side-step worthy of a centre…

        I’d be happy with Marler starting with MV to come on later

        1. Yes, I watched that game – but remember it’s “only” Wuss, who are struggling quite badly.

          I’m still haunted by England v Australia last year – he was awful. Dropped balls, poor passes, basic skills letting him down and 3 penalties conceded. I hope he steps up, as we don’t have much choice really.

        2. Thought he struggled in the scrum against Scarlets, OK it’s not all on him as Quins are clearly suffering without the Johnston/Kohn partnership, but I wasn’t sitting thinking “if we lose Corbs it’s fine, ‘coz we can bring this animal in”

  18. Marler has become a liability. I still think he could be a great england player but wants to fight more than play. He should watch Hartley s fall from grace and learn. Anyone who prefers a sidestepping prop to a scrummager should think twice, we are england not fiji!

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