Autumn Internationals 2018: Pick Your England Team

Elliot Daly

Here is your chance to pick the England team for the Autumn Internationals. Put yourself in Eddie Jones’ role and choose players for each position in the team.

I have had to revise my usual rule of having players only available in one position, but only for Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell and Elliot Daly. As England’s best players, we’ll assume they need to be in the side somewhere, even though having them available in multiple polls will split the votes – when we publish the final team, we’ll choose their position based on the highest number of votes.

I am also aware that Alex Lozowski is unavailable for the South Africa game after his ban, but I’ve left him in as an option.

Please pick away, and spread the word so that we get as many votes as possible. A crowd-sourced selection might be better than the real thing…!

Props (pick two)

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Hooker

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Second row (pick two)

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Back row (pick three)

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Scrum half

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Fly half

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Centres (pick two)

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Back three

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52 thoughts on “Autumn Internationals 2018: Pick Your England Team

  1. This exercise will just demonstrate the difficulties that EJ is facing. For a start you pick 23 not 15,secondly some players are much more effective from the bench when the game has broken up and either extra pace or ballast is required and thirdly the playing units need to be balanced.
    For the Front row I would start with Moon,Hartley and Williams with Sinkler,George and Hepburn to come off the bench-Much better in broken play.
    For the Second Row Itoje and either Kruis or Ewels.-You need Courtney on the bench
    Back Row-An ongoing problem.For Blind side either Rhodes or Wilson,Shields got shown up defensively on Saturday.Choice of openside depends on who is No 8,If one chooses Morgan you need a quick ball handler at 7 which would be Curry.If you choose Mercer you need a banger at 7 which would be Underhill.
    Scrum Half-In the absence of Dan Robson I would stick with Youngs with Care on the Bench.

    Fly Half-Despite all the chickens cackling in the farmyard I think it would be a retrograde step to replace Ford with Farrell-Ford is the better attack 10 and we are short of good quality 12″s.Both very good players but the difference is like comparing Kevin Keegan to Kenny Dalglish one was a made player,one was a pure natural-Fractions of seconds count at this level of sport.

    Centre selction is real headache-With Farrell at 12 who to play 13?-Without JJ who is the best defensively and Eliot who is now in the back 3 the choice is somewhat problematical Teo has only just put his boots back on,Manu played well offensively on Friday but is defensively suspect.Slade is probably the best option though he was found wanting defensively in the 13 channel in South Africa.
    Back 3-In the contined absence of Watson I would continue with Daly at 15 and May at 14.If Slade is at 13 more heft is required and I would play Cockasinga at 11-This lad is a real force of nature-raw defensively but sheer dynamite with ball in hand.AS always I would have Nowell on the bench for his obvious qualities.

    In my humble opinion England should start with Moon Hartley Williams Itoje Ewels Rhodes Curry Morgan Yougs Ford Farrell Slade May Cockasinga and Daly with Hepburn George Sinkler Lawes Mercer Care Tuilagi and Nowell on the bench.




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  2. We all know what they say about opinions don’t we………….
    I can’t believe Manu is the vox pop pick at centre. I can see the sense of having him on the bench but the guy has been away from Int’l rugby for longer than I can remember. Give him a chance to find his feet again. For me it’s Te’o /Daly a nice combination of guile and grunt.
    Cokanasiga is another “wish fulfilment” selection. Much too inexperienced to go up against the AB’s , Saffers and Wallabies. Another impact player.
    if Ben Youngs is the answer ,I don’t understand the question. Danny Care for me, given Robson’s absence. I know we all need a lift after recent events but we need some continuity too and throwing tyros in with long term absentees seems too much of a risk to me. That’s my opinion!




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    1. Te’o hasn’t really been featuring for Worcester, and was injured at the start of the season so not sure how effective he would be in an international. I also though when he started for England he was largely ineffective. If Tuilagi doesn’t start, then it would have to be Ford, Farrell and Daly. Slade has had a couple of chances at international and never seems to take them.




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  3. So the real ? is whom we think EJ WILL pick, rather than whom WE would pick. Well, buggered if I know, but Moon, Hartley, Wiliams, Itoje, Lawes, Wilson, Morgan, Curry, Youngs, Ford, Farrell, Daly, Teo, May, Brown. I’d have Care in, Daly @ outside centre & Nowell in his place @ wing. I’d also have Cipriani in over Ford any day of the week, but this isn’t possible here… & with Jones’ utter, irrational bias agin him anyway.




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      1. Don, after the ban yesterday, Cipriani almost certainly won’t be involved in the AI’s now whatever the injuries to FH’s.

        Ridiculous red card but the ref had no other option. Even more ridiculous 3 week ban but the panel had no other option. Just goes to show how ridiculous the laws and their implementation have become. Could rant for hours on this topic but will save you all from that!




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        1. Staggy, it’s my belief that Jones would rather pick Teresa May @ fly1/2 than Dany Cipriani, regardless of the latter’s availability or not.




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  4. Front row in terms of experience looks exposed and will miss those retired/injured. Would like to see Mercer play but requires at least one lump who can carry in the back row. Unfortunately those best suited to that role are either injured or not in favour. Manu is the key to the midfield which I expect to end in injury. Manu and Slade would make an interesting partnership. Back three options are decent. Farrell will play at ten. England to lose three out of four games




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    1. Do you think Jones would do the honourable thing if we get whitewashed?
      The most encouraging news I’ve read all week is the RFU considering an English coach if the WC goes mammaries. If we play badly in the AI’s and lose three or four , I don’t see how jones would have any credibility left,injuries or no.




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      1. I read that too. Apparently a semi final finish is the key factor. This seems a bit unfair to me as IF England get out of the pool stage then we will most likely face Aus or Wales in the quarters. Both of which will be very difficult to beat. All I hope is that England play well. If we play well and still lose fair enough. I don’t think Eddie should necessarily go under those circumstances.




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        1. If we can’t beat Australia or Wales both of whom have a pool of players substantially smaller than England and nothing like the depth of talent or financial support he should certainly go TTD. Ashton got us to a final under far more difficult circumstances. Eddie has tried to build a team around a core that is either persistently injured (Billy V and Tuilagi), or simply not the best players in their position (Hartley, Youngs, Ford, Brown, most of his back row choices.) He urgently needs to pick a settled squad and get them playing together consistently for the games up to the world cup. To me, he seems to distrust players with flair who play what is in front of them (Cips, Goode, Wade, Roko). I think the talent is available, but he is making a poor job of sorting the wheat from the chaff. Back in the mists of time there used to be a “Possibles v Probables” game before each international season. Won’t happen, but I would love to see some of those who have been ignored such ad Cips, Goode, Ewers, Slater, Kvesic, Armand etc given a shot at EJ’ s selection. You could get Eddie to pick 15, the premiership managers to pick their team to take them on, and limit the subs on each side to three so that they had to be utility players and the front rows had to play more than fifty minutes. Perhaps after the first England squad has been picked we could have a “nominate your rejects to beat them”competition on here!




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          1. Generally agree Andy, about Jones’s picks. He doesn’t trust flair (&/or even ability), so in this respect, IMO, he’s just echoing a historic trait (going back to Peter Dixon for instance or Steffon Armitage) instead of bringing fresh, new thinking to his role. Christian Wade is the top try scorer in the Prem’ship, but is presumably not even looked @ due his lack of stature. Likewise, Cipriani seems is not considered due to the perception of his lack of ‘D’. Additionally, he does rely over much on some guys like BV, who is not only injury prone, but also too predictable for a WC. Jones limits England with his limited thinking, which seems fear based to me. However, regarding Hartley’s not being the best hooker, he does hit his lineouts though, leads by example @ seems to be an effective, respected captain. George, OTOH, missed his vital, one chance to win it, lineout v Iteland & so blew the big one. Also, who’s going to be captain if Hartley is discarded? Farrell? Maybe, but he looked out of his depth v SA when shrieking @ the ref. Also, if Brown is replaced, by whom? The last bolter to do so, Watson, dropped it twice, conceding points & got himself injured. Brown doesn’t do this too often. Still think Fngland need these 2, although some rotation with replacements seems prudent practice too. These caveats apart, I concur with yr views. The ‘possibles’, ‘probables’ idea also has merit. A good idea.




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            1. Sorry Don, I admit to a blind spot re Hartley who I can’t stand as a player and would not pick for any side ever. A real cheap shot merchant who should have been banned years ago in my book, and I hate to see him captain of England. Would he have played for NZ if he had stayed there? No, not even close. Like Shields, if he is not good enough for them , why should we take the left overs? I am not totally convinced by George either, but with Dunne, Cowan-Dickie, Yeandle, Singleton,Taylor and Walker queuing up we are not short of decent hookers. On form, Goode is the best full back in England and has improved hugely under the high ball. He brings the class that Brown, for all his solidity and bravery does not pose as. As for a captain, Launchbury does a terrific job at Wasps and would be one of the first names on my team sheet, so I would go for him. I agree that Farrell is not the man for the job.




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          2. I though’t I’d take the bait Andy.I’m just selecting a fifteen ,not a squad, of those deemed surpius, not just by EJ that I would like to see take the current faves on.
            Goode
            Wade
            Barritt
            Eastmond
            Collier
            Yeandle
            Catt
            Kvesic
            Armand
            Ewers
            Attwood
            Kitchener
            Cips
            Robson.
            Don’t shoot the messenger and yes, I know a couple of those named have been involved recently but I just did this off the top of my head. Be interesting to see if anyone else gives it a go.




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            1. Acee, some interesting calls. Seeing many of yr names actually listed is a bit disconcerting by their omission from England’s squad. Forgotten about Eastmond. Always thought, as 1 of the more skilled players, he was discarded too soon & so was never given sufficient opportunity. Likewise with Wade. It’s as though England, under Jones in particular, has eschewed innovation
              since his WC win with Japan v SA, for the good old broadsword. No suitable style for Wade. He needs quick ball in a bit of space; Damian McKenzie like?! Also, Slater has been mentioned @ lock, although you’ve omitted him. You rate Kitchener more because…? Not really familiar with the merits of either.




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              1. I remember Eastmond scoring a brilliant solo try against the Argies on tour about three years ago. As you say, he is a very skilled player and could be a good “finisher” in EJ parlance.
                Don’t know a lot about Ed Slater tbh. I just came up with a few names as a bit of fun. No bias against him. As you said in an earlier post, there are so many potentials out there. I suppose it highlights one of the difficulties of being England head coach in that, players really have to be putting in 8/10 performances on a regular basis to sort the wheat from the chaff.
                Not sure Ed is picking players on that basis mind!




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        2. i take your point TTD but two things spring to mind
          1) Why should EJ automatically stay on if we get to the semi? Let’s say we make that stage , come up against the AB’s and get a spanking. Essentially, we would be no further forwards than we are now.
          2) After four years what else could EJ bring to the table that would be new, innovative or different? I can’t think of much. We all gripe now about the way he ignores in form players , has them in and out of the squad seemingly on a whim etc.
          The RFU will be shooting themselves in the foot inserting any sort of “success” clause but hey, what’s new?




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        1. His work rate is good and he generally gets through a lot of tackles, but he’s not known for his clear outs or work on the deck.




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          1. Guess that would be my concern with playing him at 6. Think I’d prefer to see Wilson there.
            Or thinking about it, Underhill. He’s certainly got the heft to play 6 and ultimately may be more suited to that than 7




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            1. And the way Underhill gets his head in the way of everything, bound to be two or three red cards for the opposing teams for dangerous play against his noggin. Just hope he learns to roll around, fling has arms in the air like the Munster “football” players. So needed Nigel Owens reffing that game!




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            2. Well, whichever back row combo England pick , assuming Morgan is @ 8, it’s likely to be inexperienced. Even the ‘experienced’ Morgan is ‘inexperienced’ in in so far as he ‘s not played for England over the past 6 yrs. However, whether they pick Mercer or Wilson @ 6 (or not knowing EJ), Curry @ 7 (possibly) & Morgan (?) @ 8 it’d down to how the back row can compete as a unit inexperienced or not in the AI’s! If the rest of the pack is ‘right’, then the loosies will have a chance to perform, but that’s yet to be seen. Jones will need to pick his pack ( & backs) astutely & they need to have the will as well as the ability within a positive, discernible playing in order to prevail.




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  5. Hepburn, Hartley, Williams, Kruis, Itoje, Wilson, Curry, Morgan, Youngs, Ford, May, Farrell, Daly, Nowell, Brown

    George, Moon, Sinkler, Lawes, Underhill, Care, Slade, Teo

    So many people picking Tuilagi who is nowhere near the same player who was tearing it up in 2012 for a start he is 6 years older and in that time he has spent more time on the physios table than the rugby pitch. He is a half yard slower which makes some of the weaknesses in his decision making much worse.




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    1. You are right about the amount of time that Tuilagi has spent injured being a problem.
      However without a run of games, I find it difficult to write him off completely. Certainly he’s not yet ready for England but the problems he caused the Scarlets demonstrated that he still has something to offer – particuarly noteworthy as the Scarlets centres were the Welsh partnership of Parkes and Davies.
      If he can put a string of similar games together I’d be quite happy to see him back in an England side




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    2. Leon, you could be v close to England’s actual team with yr picks. I’d also go for Daly @ centre. However, I’ve a perception that EJ will opt for someone else @ 13 like Slade or Tui. If he moves Farrell to 10, he could include both of them.. or even A N OTHER, knowing Jones. Whatever, decent choices, esp Daly. IMO too, he’s the 1 reliable, skilled & sharp thinker who is essential to England in midfield.




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      1. I’m not keen on moving Farrell to 10 as he is currently our best option at inside centre and it would dictate a fundamental change in playing style to a more direct attack. My preference would have been to play Cipriani at 10 with Farrell at 12. But if given parity at the breakdown and the odd bit of front foot ball Ford is still a great option




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  6. I will have a proper go at this as soon as Eddie picks his 23 Acee.
    At a quick in glance I would have Rocko and Josh Bassett as my wings now that Wade has given up in despair, Marchant instead of Eastmond, Barrington or Bateman at loose head, Cole at tight, Slater instead of Kitchener, and because Robson is out for several months I would take a real flyer at 9 and give Harrison a try. It would certainly be interesting to see him against Youngs as Tigers always seem better with him playing. I would also have Garvey around the squad somewhere as he is an animal. It makes for a heated discussion in the pub!




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    1. So many players Andy, it’s a pity we can’t play twenty a side! I forgot all about Garvey, Marchant and Roko, mea culpa!
      The saddest thing for me is ,given all these potentially int’l class players ,we should be on the crest of a wave ,not feeling like we are drowning in a sea of unease.




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  7. Sorry Don, I admit to a blind spot re Hartley who I can’t stand as a player and would not pick for any side ever. A real cheap shot merchant who should have been banned years ago in my book, and I hate to see him captain of England. Would he have played for NZ if he had stayed there? No, not even close. Like Shields, if he is not good enough for them , why should we take the left overs? I am not totally convinced by George either, but with Dunne, Cowan-Dickie, Yeandle, Singleton,Taylor and Walker queuing up we are not short of decent hookers. On form, Goode is the best full back in England and has improved hugely under the high ball. He brings the class that Brown, for all his solidity and bravery does not pose as. As for a captain, Launchbury does a terrific job at Wasps and would be one of the first names on my team sheet, so I would go for him. I agree that Farrell is not the man for the job.




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    1. Mmm, Andy, so shall I take it that it’s ‘no’ for Hartley then? Not even a def maybe? Kidding. His potential ejection therefore raises the ? of captaincy which you would fill with Launchbury. Agree that JL ought to be 1st choice @ lock. His demeanour & exp of captaincy @ Wasps also seem to make him an able leader for England, as you point out. I don’t particularly have that strong a view on Hartley. Although he has been overly aggressive @ times in the past, he’s been ‘clean’ under Jones for England. However, I think Jones will stick with Hartley now, rightly or wrongly, partly because of his record & familiarity with England under EJ. Anyway, little mileage left in this one I guess, so little point in rucking over old ground. Except, no, I don’t think Hartley would have been picked by NZ. Shields wasn’t selected either, although he was integral to & also captained the Hurricanes whom won the S Rugby title. There are a few deemed to be in front of him by Hansen. Seemed odd to me that Jones plucked Shields from ‘nowhere’, especially without an observeable history. As a 6, Shields could be an extra option for England, moreso as he is also a line out exponent. You seem to, not unnaturally, prefer English born players in the national side, but do you hold the same views over the Vunipolas’ inclusion for instance, as you do with that of Shields & Hartley? England, as with some others, have never really trusted Goode. Playing for Saracens gives him plenty of go forward opportunities & if you believe his ‘D’ is sound, then it makes sense to give him a shout. Unfortunately for him, there’s little time or perhaps appetite for this now. I wondered about his ability under sustained pressure, as this is what will be applied in Nov & the WC. However, without a shot now, it’s going to be a bit late for Goode I fear. Have stated elsewhere here that Brown needs to be a more involved distributer, but this is where Jones comes in. He needs to task, coach, encourage Brown to do this as perhaps MB did in his earlier career? I’d still have Brown @ full back, certainly @ least as a rotational option, though.




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  8. My ‘possibles’ would be: Brookes, Thacker, Bateman, slater, att Wood, Gibson, kvesic, beaumont,simpson, cips, banahan,eastmond,Marchant, roko, goode
    I have tried to pick only English players hence a few omissions as I think we are in danger of losing our identity as England but that’s just my opinion.. Not intended as a red rag to anyone!




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  9. S Times pundits, Jones (uugh!), Barnes & Dallaglio agree only on Slade @ 13 & May. By a majority spit decision, the rest of their team is; Brown (f/back), Daly (14), Tui (12), Farrell (10), Youngs, Mercer (8), Curry (7), a 3 way split @ 6 between Itoje, Rhodes & Shields, Kruis, Itoje, Williams (3), Hartley & Hepburn. From those ‘available’, I’d go with; Brown, Ashton, Daly, May, Farrell, Ford (under duress!), Care, Morgan, Curry, Wilson, Lawes, Itoje, Williams, Hartley & dunno!




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  10. Yes Don, Joe Simpson of Wasps. Before his injury and the subsequent rise of Dan Robson he was outstanding and I still think his pace around the fringes is deadly.




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    1. Stu, yes, I agree. Ran like the wind, was unpredictable & a threat around the fringes. I think he could also pass & kick. More versatile & faster than either Youngs or Care. Never understood why England ignored him. Perhaps because he was born in Sydney?




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  11. As regards the pack it is evident it is going to be extremely inexperienced that has never played together before.And the Boks are very nearly at full strength very strong and settled, possibly the best 8 in the world.Forecast is wet and windy.
    I fear we are going to get badly beaten up up front and the scoreboard could be heavily in favour of SA.Hope I’m wrong of course but that Bok pack is very powerful.




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    1. Harlequin, SA will be without 2 key play makers in de Klerk & Le Roux though, so this will potentially inhibit their scoring ability.




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