Argentina v England: England player ratings


1. Joe Marler: 8
Much better performance here than in Salta, scrummaged well again and showed great hands in the loose.

2. Rob Webber: 8
Second half try capped another good game for the Bath man. Threw himself into tackles and is growing in confidence with every game.

3. David Wilson: 6.5
Quiet overall but played his part in England’s dominance at the scrum. Always had the upper hand over his opposite number but a few penalties conceded tainted an otherwise solid performance.

4. Joe Launchbury: 8
Followed up a great performance with another impressive outing. 18 tackles gives you an idea of Launchbury’s contribution. As reliable as ever in the lineout. Fast becoming a key-player for Lancaster.

5. Dave Attwood: 7
A strong 20 metre gain in the first half caught the eye and he replicated his reliability in Salta throughout. Certainly is capable at this level and will provide Staurt Lancaster food for thought come the Autumn.

6. Tom Wood: 7.5
Unspectacular but effective from the captain. Great defensive work, as usual. Staking a strong claim to make the number six shirt his own.

7. Matt Kvesic: 9
The Gloucester man looks very comfortable at this level and has vindicated the anticipation garnered ahead of his international breakthrough. His work at the breakdown was crucial in swinging momentum England’s way. It will be fascinating to see what happens when Robshaw is available again after an eye-catching series.

8. Ben Morgan: 7
Not the same high-quality performance as in Salta but went about his business well. Looks to have adjusted back to international level with ease.

9. Lee Dickson: 7
As England’s dominance grew, Dickson was able to produce a decent supply to Burns which opened up Argentina. Despite doing little, if anything, wrong, his last two starts haven’t particularly enhanced his long-term England chances.

10. Freddie Burns: 7.5
His beautifully weighted kick pressured Argentina’s Martin Bustos Moyano into conceding five metre scrum which led to a penalty try. A nervy start in the absence of Twelvetrees but grew in confidence and guided England to dominance then on.

11. Marland Yarde: 8
Intelligent run on the blindside lead to maiden international try. Flourished against a tired Argentina towards the end and a second try capped a memorable debut.

12. Kyle Eastmond: 8.5
Showed tremendous running power and evasiveness while beating five tacklers on his way to a superb try. His chase to force the five metre scrum which produced the first try proved a pivotal point in the match.

13. Jonathan Joseph: 7
Ran hard lines but came up against stiff opposition in the midfield but he can be pleased with his contribution in the series.

14. Jonny May: 6.5
Showed plenty of enthusiasm after late inclusion in starting lineup but attacking opportunities were very limited. A solid debut.

15. Mike Brown: 6.5
Slightly better than in Salta, showing plenty of attacking intent and gaining a lot of ground but he will feel his full-back rivals breathing down his neck after a quiet tour.


Richard Wigglesworth showed good vision supplying Yarde on the blindside, allowing him to score and seemed to increase the tempo on his introduction. The only replacement to make a real impact.

Stephen Myler had little time to impose himself on the game but he showed some good passes in his brief appearance.

David Paice, Paul Doran-Jones and Henry Thomas once again maintained England’s dominance in the scrum.

Ben Foden, Billy Vunipola and Courteney Lawes made little to no impact on proceedings.

By Rich Elkins

40 thoughts on “Argentina v England: England player ratings

  1. A tighthead hands his team two pushover scrums and you give him a 6.5? Extremely harsh, he’s had a fantastic tour.

  2. Agree with Steve, not Wilson’s best game of the tour but he provided dominance at Argentina’s supposed area of strength. 2 pen trys from the scrum and you have to be worth a 7.5 as a tight-head. Think he’s stronger than Cole in the scrum and offering more round the park than he used to, if the Lions lost a tight-head I would have him as next in line.

    Fair other than that. Disappointed not to see Foden introduced earlier, not getting Foden back into international rugby after a year out of the international game is the only real negative of the tour for me.

  3. I would say that the jury is still out on JJ. I was hoping for more from him really. I think that Eastmond has just overtaken him in the pecking order, which means that he may not be too pleased with his contribution this series.

    Overall, I’m really happy with this tour as it has given us a look at some of the depth available to England – genuine battle for all places in the team now which has to be good. Also might have shut up some of the naysayers who thought that a tour to Argentina would be too hard for England without the Lions and rested players. They said that a tour to Japan would have been easier…………

    However would suggest that we don’t overreact to the series as Argentina were light in their players available, and therefore we probably aren’t as good as the results would suggest, just as we weren’t as bad as the result in Cardiff would suggest.

    However SL has some very tricky decisions to make in naming his next EPS.

    Which loose head doesn’t make it? Hartley might have blown it. Lawes? 6 back rowers? 4 centres? Bye bye Goode? Interesting. Don’t envy him his decisions, and I think that the first of these is the hardest. All three have played really well.

  4. The other question which I forgot to mention, and which I view as the elephant in the room, is “is SL’s coaching setup right – did the coaches coming in for the tour actually do better than the ones off with the Lions”. Discuss!

    1. Interesting point! Very impressed with the defence, the way the likes of Burns got off the line and tackled was quite Farrellesque (junior). Considering it was an unfamiliar back line in both games, without defensive stalwarts, I think Gustard can be proud of his contribution. Given England’s defence wasn’t great with Farrell in the 6N, Sarries haven’t suffered in that department without him maybe it is Gustard that is providing the intellect in that area?

      Skill levels and handling looked good, and lots of favourable comments from players on what they have got out of working with Catt … just wish we could see more first phase strike moves, if you look at the teams at the top of the pile in their respective levels (Leicester, Leinster, ABs, Chiefs) being able to score from first phase is a common theme and I don’t see why we can’t make more from first phase.

      Really rate Rob Baxter, with the limited resources at Exeter he’s been the best performing head coach/director in the premiership in my opinion. For all Lancaster’s attributes I’m still not 100% convinced he’s exceptional at coaching a rugby team to play a clearly defined style of rugby (Wayne Smith, Vern Cotter, Joe Schmidt calibre). Chiefs have a brand of rugby and Baxter is good in this area, so I wonder if there is a space for him (or someone like him), e.g. Lancaster steps up and focusses on putting in the enablers for success, someone like a Baxter does the detail of how we play.

  5. Personally, I was very impressed with Marler – even 8 seems a bit harsh. He did give away a penalty but apart from that was absolutely fantastic, doing everything right and comprehensively did a number on the Argentinian tighthead.

    I also was impressed with Wigglesworth, especially his innovation for Yarde’s try, and disappointed with Brown. Kvesic did well but I think a 9 is a bit high, he wasn’t scintillating and certainly gives competition but still isn’t as good as Robshaw IMO.

    Anyway, what about planned EPS squads now, if this is the place to do it?

    1. I don’t see why not, here’s my 33 man EPS for Nov (in rough order of preference):
      Looseheads: Corbs, M Vunipola, Marler (Backup: ??? [Nick Wood?])
      Hookers: T Youngs, Webber, Hartley (Backup: Gray/Buchanan)
      Tightheads: Cole, Wilson (Backup: Doran-Jones/Thomas)
      2nd Row: Launchbury, Parling, Attwood (Backup: Lawes)
      Blindside: Wood, Robshaw, Croft (Backup: Haskell???)
      Openside: Fraser, Kvesic (Backup: Wallace)
      Number 8: Morgan, B Vunipola (Backup: Haskell??? – or is someone like Jackson Wray or Gaskell worth a look?)
      Scrum Half: B Youngs, Dickson, Care (Backup: Simpson)
      Fly Half: Burns, Flood, Farrell (Backup: possibly Ford if he improves his goal kicking)
      Inside Centre: Twelvetrees, Eastmond (Backup: Barritt until we find someone else)
      Outside Centre: Tuilagi, Daly (Backup: Joseph)
      Wing: Yarde, Wade, May, Ashton??? [could be OK with a running backline] (Backup: Sharples)
      Fullback: Foden (Only one as limited to 33 and Daly and May can cover – Backup: Brown)

      1. Blimey, it’s not often I agree 100% with a post, especially when there are so many selections involved – but that looks absolutely spot on to me.

      2. Pretty much spot on but a few galring mistakes if you ask me:

        Only 3 locks – there will be a fourth, remember this is for the the whole season with limited changes. A matchday squad has 3 locks in it, so going to need a 4th minimum.

        Fraser was unlucky to be injured for the tour but very unlikely Bomber will pick him in the EPS, Saxons much more likely.

        Same with Daly – and JJ just started the last 2 games and played well enough to be the back up 13.

        And 4 wingers but only one FB? Again same point as the locks.


  6. It’s radical but how about this for for Australia in November:
    Corbisiero, T Youngs, Cole
    Launchbury, Parling
    Wood (c), Morgan, Kvesic
    B Youngs, Burns
    Twelvetrees, Tuilagi
    Yarde, Foden, Wade

    Bench: Webber (Hartley too temperamental), Vunipola, Wilson, Croft (4/5/6 cover), Fraser (7/8 cover), Dickson (Care has shown very little internationally), Flood, Daly

    I would have swapped Kvesic and Fraser had Fraser been fit to tour this summer, but Kvesic’s experience wins him the start. If Robshaw can find some decent form again with Quins he could be looking at the 6 shirt, but we need a better 7 to compete with the best.

    The backline (bar Manu) is quite small, but the Wallabies backs are hardly enormous.

    1. Yarde and Twelvetrees small?

      Also, I don’t see the hate for Robshaw. He out-performed Wood in the 6N (Although that may have been because of Wood at 8, but still), Wood hardly played brilliantly against Argentina, and Robshaw is a natural 6… I’d have Wood and Robshaw myself, don’t see the fuss about a “natural 7”, Kvesic hardly slowed down the ball anyway, he played brilliantly but that was mainly from tackling and running – both, especially tackling, being something Robshaw is very good at.

      1. I have to say that on second thoughts you may have a good point. Wood over Robshaw was one of the hardest decisions I had to make, most of the rest of the team picks itself. I simply went off form at the end of the season, and I would expect those two to share the 6 shirt (and the captaincy) depending on who is on form at the time.

        I admit that Yarde and Twelvetrees are not small, maybe I’m just used to seeing a large defensive backline from the last year and then under Johnson. If it works for the Wallabies (and the Boks to an extent – their backline looks very good at the moment) then there is no reason to not pick these players.

        It’ll be nice to (hopefully) see more tries scored after the last couple of years (Chris Ashton alone scored more tries in the 2011 6N than the entire England team did in this year’s).

      2. Very good points well made – think Robshaws strenghts are over looked just because is he isn’t a ‘natural 7’.

        In all honestly he’s still the best we’ve got at 7 and is the captain!

        And isn’t 36 about 100kgs?!

    2. I like OM’s team, but would actually like to see Robshaw and Kvesic play together, they don’t exactly shirk the tackles and could be a useful unit at the breakdown.

      However I’d have an entirely differnt bench. Flood for me is now thrid choice, Farrell to bench, and until Morgan can do 80 minutes we need Billy V on the bench. I’d also have Eastmond ahead of Daly after this tour.

      1. I went for Flood over Farrell partly on form and partly because Flood offers more of a running rugby option, and is more experienced to close out a game. If Farrell comes back from Australia and finds some good form, then there is no reason he cannot bench. After all, he regularly plays 12 and can cover 13 as well.

        Eastmond is probably the man in possession of the no. 23 shirt, but I would like to see what Daly can do. As there is a high chance of at least one injury in the backline, there is likely to be room for both. Also, Eastmond can cover 10-14, although he is no test goalkicker as he showed vs the Baa-Baas.

        1. have to slightly disagree regarding your justification for Flood over Farrell.

          Firstly you dont want a running 10 to come on to close out a game, you want someone who will kick the territory and keep the scoreboard ticking. Farrell is better suited to that role.
          Also, having Burns at 10 means you want something different on the bench – if plan A doesnt work, you need a plan B – again, for this reason i would plump for Farrell.

          And finally, i get your point about Flood being more experienced because he has more caps, but Farrell is currently on a lions tour while Flood rests at home. it is widely accepted that the experience gained on a lions tour is unparalleled, so i think that that is going to be a huge bonus for Farrell over Flood in the future.

          with regards to the rest of your team/squad. looks pretty good. i do think that it is pretty hard to have Fraser over Kvesic, as he is yet to be capped and Kvesic had a very good tour (i think i read he made 29 tackles in the first Argentina game).

          i still like the Wood/Robshaw tandem act (both have huge engines and balance well), but Kvesic will make it pretty hard for Robbo to simply come back in.

          1. I’ll admit it’s probably bias as a Saracens fan. As Kvesic did the tour he starts over Fraser, no arguments.

          2. Personally I will be happy if we never see Flood near an England shirt again.

            As I have said before the fact he has 50 caps says more about the lack of depth in talent than his own abilities.

            Wouldn’t be surprised to see Eastmond at fly half for Bath over the next couple of years, remember he played at outside half for Saints and England in league and has the skill set.

  7. Corbs, Webber, Cole
    Parling, Launchbury
    Robshaw, Wood, Morgan
    Youngs, Burns
    36, Tuilagi
    Wade, Yarde, Foden

    Vunipola, Youngs, Wilson
    Care, Farrell

    I really like Mako and Youngs but was concerned that our scrum struggled in Cardiff and think we need a proper scrummaging unit to start with these two making serious impact from the bench.

    Likewise Locks. If one of the starters was injured I would go with Attwood but still have Lawes on the bench for impact.

    Back row – we have an established back row that has played really well. Don’t see that changing just yet, but they’ve got players sniping on their heels. Croft for impact sub.

    Thought Dickson played pretty well in S. America. Unfussy, decent delivery, tackled his heart out, but just go with Care for impact as he adds a bit of extra snipe round the fringes.

    Very undecided who should start FH. Burns still a bit green but offers so much more in the long run IMO. He will need to be managed carefully.

    Barritt and Eastmond back up centres but no room on the bench.

    Think Ashton should be in the squad but until he recovers his mojo he doesn’t start. Brown is versatile cover and has never let England down, but I think Foden is the better player.

    1. I would like to have Eastmond as 23 over Brown as he provides cover 11-15 and more of a game breaking impact. That agility against tired defences is going to pose more of a threat than Brown’s straight line running.

      Other than that it’s same 23 though for me, I would be going with the Lions front rowers as the starters though. Completely agree with your point on needing to increase the scrum power though. I’m hoping that Launchbury will bulk up a bit pre-season as he still seems a large pup and Vuni continues to progress technically. If that’s not doing the job then I would look at switching the front row personnel around.

      On the Robshaw detractors … he didn’t finish the season in fine form but his early season performances and early 6N performances were good enough to have him as a favourite for Lions captaincy. A summer off and batteries recharged and I expect him to be back to his best, we certainly should see him play in the Autumn before assuming Kvesic has overtaken him. As you say look at how well that back row unit went against the ABs and Scotland, nothing broken there.

  8. Think Eastmond is far more versatile than Brown and provides a real impact. Brown had a guilt edge opportunity to nail down the fb position and failed. Leys reward those stepped up.

    1. I know what you are saying about Brown and think that Eastmond has more upside, but I would like to see him get some England game time at 15 before putting him on the subs bench for a big match. Brown, as stated, is fairly reliable and I’m normally fairly pleased to see that in a FB.

  9. Look international rugby should be a harsh business. Strettle should be axed from eps and saxons. Goode relegated to saxons and be given a few matches at fly half if that’s where SL sees him (rightly imo).
    Wade, Eastmond, Yarde, Kvesic and Burns MUST be inthe eps. If that means having the likes of Goode, JJ, Haskell or even Ashton in the saxons then so be it.

  10. I’ve got a feeling that Lancaster won’t overhaul his EPS in August as much as we’d like. I mentioned it on another article but he’s said he won’t get rid of any of the players he has rested and therefore I can’t see how there will be space in the 33 for all of the players who impressed in Argentina. They will probably get called up from the Saxons anyway and it will be last chance to impress for the likes of Goode, Ashton, Barritt.

    1. A radical overhaul shouldn’t be required at this stage, but he’s hung on to people not performing for a bit too long. The lions selections show this as well.
      Wade – 1 cap (more awards than caps this year) – Lion
      36 – 5 caps (3 starts, dropped to the bench after second start) – Lion
      Vunipola – 9 caps (1 start dropped to the bench after first start) – Lion

      Basically I think he assembled a group of players last year and has wanted to stick with that group, get them 40-50 caps and take them to RWC ’15. Problem is not sense checking if they are good enough to make it to the latter stages of a RWC, some are not and should have been cut earlier. Just hope this happens now rather than later.

      1. Well said – although a bit more credit must be given to Bomber, he’s taken the opportunity this summer to give some of those players a chance.

        There is room to keep his established players and add the new ones into the EPS – bar maybe Goode & Eastmond/JJ.

  11. Well said Benjit.Goode and Ashton I especially feel should go to the saxons squad.Goode will never truly make the grade Ashton threatens to be a liability too often.Hes a twat.

  12. Am I the only one who thought Jonathan Joseph had a shocker? There were several occasions he really should have passed but decided to just bosh it up instead. Nothing new for an English 13, but at least Tuilagi makes yards. Joseph was getting marched back and I counted three occasions when he immediately lost the ball going into contact.

    I’ve not watched enough London Irish to really know what he can do in the AP, I’m always told he’s very good, but he has consistently failed to perform in and England shirt, and he’s had enough chances now for that to be damning.

    1. Wouldn’t say he had a shocker, but agree that he wasn’t as good as billed. I was actually really looking forward to seeing what he could do. As previously mentioned, he has actually dropped a place in the centre rankings after this tour and to be bluntly honest, I can’t ever see him making it in an England shirt. I say move on from him – he’s had his chances and try someone else next time.

  13. The thing about a robshaw wood morgan back row is that it has no gas, the quickest of them is probably morgan and lets make no bones about it, his running style is a very very quick walk (probably due to the size of his legs). Yeah some people can do without croft hanging out in wide channels, but what they won’t be able to do without is the link play and support play that a quick man offers. We are all hankering after fast backs play with space being created by quick feet and sleight of hand, that is brilliant, but if christian wade and marlande yarde decide to waltz off up the pitch and get tackled leaving one on his own with the covering winger and full back on him then with robshaw, wood and morgan playing, he will get turned over. whereas with croft he won’t.
    Having said that, if the lions do any video analysis of the match on sat they’ll be slapping Croft with a paddle for not working back after some of the breaks.

    to Joseph, the skill he showed for Strettle’s try in the first test is what we are all wanting, the check, show, accelerate, hands through, offload taking out 2 defenders and putting our winger in behind the line. However, lets compare this to the other option we have, which is Tuilagi running over 2 people then offloading, I would say Manu does this 2-3 times a match, whereas up to now Joseph has done it once a match probably (just not always next to the line). The question is, with better structure and more playing time in the team is this going to increase to 3 times a match or is Tuilagi’s approach always going to produce more?

    I really don’t like mike brown’s play atm, he has done one good thing as far as I can see in Argentina and that was his kick to their 22 that they failed to clear to any decent level. which is not the most prestigious claim. I don’t know whether it is the fact that he still hasn’t scored for England or what but he will not pass the ball at first receiver, something that we have seen for a while, indeed just before Brad Barrit scored against NZ he nearly lost us the ball by not passing to Brad and Manu who were outside him. (saved by dan cole and some great clearing out from morgan and co)

    finally, Billy, if we want to use him to his greatest effect we actually have to use him, he got 1 carry when he was on and that is his biggest strength, it would be like bringing Dan cole on and putting him at flanker. He isn’t yet the player morgan is, or indeed the player morgan could be, but if he does get on he needs to be given the ball to carry because he probably isn’t going to set the world alight as yet with his link play.

  14. I think England have done a really good job in finding strength in depth over the last couple of years and this tour has shown that. Each position has now got at least two, if not three or four players who have stepped up and proved themselves at international level. I still think that Wales and possibly Ireland posses a better starting XV if all players are fit but England far outweigh them in quality of strength in depth. Looking towards 2015, I have got to say that, in my opinion, England look the best set in terms of potential out of the home nations. With that said, I would pick the following 33 for the EPS:

    1. A. Corbisero, M. Vunipola, J. Marler
    2. T. Youngs, D. Hartley, R. Webber
    3. D. Cole, D. Wilson
    4. J. Launchbury, C. Lawes
    5. G. Parling, D. Attwood
    6. T. Wood, T. Croft
    7. C. Robshaw, M. Kvesic
    8. B. Morgan, B. Vunipola

    9. B. Youngs, D. Care, L. Dickson
    10. O. Farrell, F. Burns
    11. M. Yarde
    12. B. Twelvetrees, K. Eastmond, B. Barritt
    13. M. Tuilagi, J. Joseph
    14. C. Ashton, C. Wade
    15. M. Brown, B. Foden

    It would be a very close call for E. Slater, T. Johnson, W. Fraser, E. Daly, J. Tomkins and J. May but too much new blood could be a slight danger so probably best for these guys to get a little more game time with the Saxons. Still, proves the point about strength in depth and the competition for places. What’s more, there is X-Factor in abundance throughout the squad which is something that has been missing from an England side since the heady days of Mr. Robinson et al.

    Serious potential.

    1. Take out JJ and add in a wing or utility back such as May or Daly and I completely agree with you!

  15. My EPS 33

    1 – Corbisiero, M.Vunipola, Marler
    2 – T.Youngs, Webber, Hartley
    3 – Cole, Wilson
    4/5 – Parling, Launchbury, Attwood, Lawes
    6 – Wood, Croft
    7 – Robshaw, Kvesic
    8 – Morgan, B.Vunipola
    9 – B.Youngs, Care
    10 – Burns, Farrell, Flood
    12/13 – Twelvetrees, Tuilagi, Barritt, Eastmond
    11/14 – Wade, Yarde, Ashton, May
    15 – Foden, Brown

    So from the current EPS I’m dropping Goode, Clarke, Strettle, Haskell, Waldron, Dickson and Johnson. I’m pretty happy with that – I think we know what most of the dropped guys can give by now and that’s solid depth, decent options. Johnson is the only guy on that dropped list I’m still unsure about.

    Kitchener, Thomas, Tompkins and Joseph are probably the unlucky ones for now.

    1. McMurphy & Paulo I had ruthlessly culled Barritt from mine (on grounds of having him as 3rd choice 12) but it’s certainly a debatable one.

      Brown Vs Tait and Daly. I couldn’t decide which out of Tait and Daly I would go for, but I felt Tait was more worthy than Brown on form and Daly on potential. Just curious on you rationale for holding onto Brown over either of those?

  16. I should emphasise that although many of my picks were based on what I’d like to see, several were based on what I expect.

    Of the guys on my list I’d put Barritt, Flood, Hartley in the latter category, maybe even Care (on the basis that IMO Dickson’s unfussy quick delivery suits Burns better). Barritt is clearly a good organiser and a solid guy who looks to be a sort of team glue, and that has value. I’d prefer to pick other guys, but I’d have no compunction about putting Barritt in either.

    On Brown, he’s still in my squad because I think he is a good player and is substantially better than a squad rotational guy like Strettle or Waldron, and although he is behind a fit Foden, I think he’s #2 for now. I don’t think Tait is quite up to it, and I haven’t seen enough Daly, plus he wasn’t on tour, so realistically he won’t be in the EPS.

    Does that make sense?

    1. Perfect sense. Brown’s a good solid player, very consistent (rarely less than a 6). My concern is he’s not finishing and not creating/providing at international level.

      Tait was sensational towards the end of the season (thought he was the best prem 15 in the latter stages). Daly went better against England than Brown did for England in the Baa Baas game, the ability to smash a penalty over from 60m also sets him apart.

      I’ll hardly be crying myself to sleep if Brown keeps his place, just think he’s come up a little short and we’ve got another good 2 options we should look at instead. If Goode gets picked ahead of either of them I’ll be needing a padded cell though.

  17. Matt – I must agree that Barritt and Brown are tough choices when you have the likes of Twelvetrees, Eastmond, Tait and Daly playing so well. I suppose I am a little conservative and would erk away from chopping two players who have been consistently good and dependable. Now, those are two words I am not a huge fan of but I think they have done enough to earn the right to keep their jerseys for now. They will both know the pressure is on them and that will either make or break them.

  18. Everybody naming a 33 man squad? I think I’ll have a conservative squad, 3 players each for the front row, 2 for everywhere else. The first players for their respective are my starting XV, * indicates which players will make the bench.
    1) Corbisiero, Vunipola*, Marler
    2) Youngs, Webber*, Hartley
    3) Cole, Wilson*, Stevens
    4) Launchbury, Lawes*
    5) Parling, Attwood
    6) Wood, Croft*
    7) Robshaw, Kvesic
    8) Morgan, Vunipola
    9) Youngs, Care*
    10) Burns, Farrell*
    11) Yarde, May
    12) Twelvetrees, Eastmond
    13) Tuilagi, Daly*
    14) Wade, Ashton
    15) Foden, Tait

    Daly makes the bench over Tait and May because he can cover any position in the back 5 and can smash a penalty 55m away. Tait makes the second FB slot as Brown never passes and recently has become more prone to turnovers than Foden ever was.
    The back row is a massive headache. The key is balance, two 6.5s and a barnstorming 8 is a very effective row, but it has no room for a player like Croft.
    Croft needs a genuine 7 to do all the dirty work. Wales 2013 and France 2012 were testament to that. In France, Croft/Robshaw/Morgan proved a little too ineffective at the breakdown as France nearly won the game on penalties despite England scoring three times the amount of tries. Cardiff was even worse as with Wood out of position and Croft reluctant to get his hands dirty; Robshaw was left to handle the breakdown on his own against Tipuric and Warburton, the two best 7s in the NH.
    Croft needs Kvesic. Kvesic in turn needs Vunipola as he’s not the strongest link man (he was going to ground WAY to easily in Salta). For me it has to be either Wood/Robshaw/Morgan or Croft/Kvesic/Vunipola.

    The only way I can see Croft becoming part of my first choice front row is if he plays a wide game at 8, like a faster Faletau.

  19. Some interesting potential line ups in the comments here. Pretty much everyone agrees on the bulk of the squad with the odd exception. Hopefully Stuart Lancaster has the same mind frame when he comes to naming the squad. Thought I would have a bash at a Saxons 33 seeing as I have laid out who I would choose for the EPS above:

    1. N. Wood, M. Mullan
    2. R. Buchanan, D. Paice, J. George
    3. H. Thomas, P. Doran-Jones, R. Harden
    4. E. Slater, G. Robson
    5. G. Kitchener, K. Myall
    6. T. Johnson, C. Clarke
    7. W. Fraser, L. Wallace
    8. J. Crane, T. Waldrom

    9. R. Wrigglesworth, J. Simpson, H. Thomas
    10. S. Myler, G. Ford
    11. J. May, D. Strettle
    12. A. Allen, L. Burrell
    13. E. Daly, J. Tompkins
    14. T. Biggs, C. Sharples
    15. M. Tait, A. Goode

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