England and Wales: Who is going to New Zealand?

Tim Hart looks back at the England v Wales match on Saturday and says which players have guaranteed a seat on the plane to New Zealand and who will be planning their summer holidays.

Manu Tuilagi on England debut

It wasn’t exactly a classic but then that wasn’t what we were expecting from the first Rugby World Cup warm-up match between England and Wales. The scoreline, although close, is not overly significant with both sides just coming out of hibernation and nowhere near playing at their full potential yet.

That’s why the comparison between England v Wales and the New Zealand v Australia Tri-Nations match earlier in the day doesn’t work. The Wallabies and the All Blacks were playing a full-blooded match in the biggest tournament in the Southern Hemisphere. England and Wales on the other hand were playing their first game after two months of gruelling and intensive training. It would be unfair, and frankly wrong, to compare the two games.

It was a chance for players from both sides to show why they should go for the World Cup. But who have booked their seats on the plane to New Zealand after Saturday’s match?

For England there is no doubt Jonny Wilkinson will be going to his fourth World Cup. The 32-year-old fly-half impressed in his first start for England since the 15-15 draw with Scotland in March 2010. Wilkinson showed how a number 10 can control a game as he used his distribution and pin-point kicking to keep Wales on the back foot for large periods of the match.

He also set up Manu Tuilagi for his first try and even though it was the Leicester centre’s England debut the rapturous applause he received when he came off shows how he is a dead cert for Martin Johnson’s squad.

James Haskell played at number 8 and he showed why many are calling for him to replace Nick Easter in the pack. Haskell was the best player on the pitch in the first half and capped off his performance with a try. Matt Stevens made a solid return to the side after a three year absence and he will be welcomed back into the fold.

The likes of Danny Care, Tom Croft, Dylan Hartley and Tom Palmer are also odds on to go having had a very good Six Nations Championship earlier this year. Delon Armitage will also be on his way to New Zealand as he displayed the swagger he had when he first burst on to the scene in 2008.

One player who should not get a seat on the plane is Simon Shaw. The 37-year-old’s longevity is brilliant but the currently unattached lock just looked too old. However, Johnson will probably pick him due to his experience.

Captain Lewis Moody is also a doubt after ‘tweaking’ his ankle but he will be given every opportunity to prove his fitness.

But that is not as big a blow as Morgan Stoddart’s injury is for Wales. The Scarlets fullback is Wales’ first casualty and will miss the World Cup after breaking his leg.

George North scored two tries and is already looking at the tourist attractions in Auckland along with Shane Williams, Jamie Roberts, Mike Phillips and Sam Warburton.

Rhys Priestland did well at fly-half as he deputised for Stephen Jones who got injured in the warm up but he still has work to do. The same goes for Dan Lydiate who looked flat footed all too often. Lloyd Burns and Ryan Bevington featured in the second-half but they are all but planning their summer holidays already.

They will be hoping to get another chance to prove themselves in Cardiff on Saturday when we do it all again.


On the Plane: Delon Armitage, Jonny Wilkinson, Manu Tuilagi, Mark Cueto, Danny Care, Chris Ashton, Toby Flood, Shontayne Hape, Mike Tindall, Ben Youngs, Ben Foden, Matt Stevens, Dylan Hartley, Tom Palmer, Tom Croft, James Haskell, Lee Mears, Dan Cole, Nick Easter, Courtney Lawes, Andrew Sheridan, Steve Thompson.

Passport on standby: Matt Banahan, Riki Flutey, Charlie Hodgson, Ugo Monye, Lewis Moody, Alex Corbisiero, Simon Shaw, Louis Deacon, David Wilson, Richard Wigglesworth.

Work to do: Charlie Sharples, Mouritz Botha, Joe Simpson, Paul Doran-Jones, Hendre Fourie, Tim Payne, Chris Robshaw.


On the Plane: George North, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams, Mike Phillips, James Hook, Stephen Jones, Lee Byrne, Leigh Halfpenny, Richie Rees, Andrew Bishop, Paul James, Huw Bennett, Craig Mitchell, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones, Sam Warburton, Luke Charteris, Matthew Rees, Gethin Jenkins, Ryan Jones,

Passport on Standby: Rhys Priestland, Dan Lydiate, Toby Faletau. Tavis Knoyle, Scott Williams, Aled Brew, Richard Hibbard, Scott Andrews, Adam Jones, John Yapp, Rob McCusker, Andy Powell, Jonathan Thomas, Martyn WIlliams,

Work to do: Lloyd Burns, Ryan Bevington, Gavin Henson, Lou Reed, Justin Tipuric, Josh Turnbull, James Tovey,

Injured: Morgan Stoddart.

Tim Hart is a freelance journalist who works for Reuters Sport and ITV Sport. He is also a compulsive Tweeter and you can follow him @Timwellspent

14 thoughts on “England and Wales: Who is going to New Zealand?

  1. I some times wonder If I watch the same game as the Rugby blog?!

    Haskel the best forward?? I’d put Stevens ahead of him and In the 1st half Shaw as well. If Haskel hadn’t scored the easiest of trys which was created by a great scrum and poor defence, would we remember him?

    And from a welsh point a view if Halfpenny is booked on that plane I’ll be gutted he hasn’t played all season and is far to injury prone.

    1. Haskell did play pretty well, and it’s good to know there is another option at Number 8. Stevens was exceptional in the scrum, and although the Welsh weren’t up to much, he is pushing for a starting berth.

      Not convinced by Shaw anymore. If I said I’d leave him at home, would anyone agree?!

    2. Hi guys. I apologise for such a late response but have been very busy with the riots and the aftermath of them over the last week.

      Haskell would always be in my first England XV. Stevens is still not at the levels he was performing at before being axed but will make the squad and most likely be a starter.

      As for Halfpenny, he is a player I’d have in the squad as he does offer something different on his day.

  2. Only disagreements to those on the plane:

    Shontayne Hape – looked lost in the 6 nations most of the time and just hasn’t made the top level grade. Banahan played well on Saturday, even showed some killer instinct in his tackles which is unusual. Flutey looked rusty but he has a good rugby brain. Can provide an extra dimension to JW’s game if allowed to play more together (like Mike Catt). Both Banahan and Flutey are far more adaptable and provide other options for coaches than Hape.

    Mark Cueto – not only can he not score tries, he’s leaking them at the other end of the pitch as well! I have been one of those who have hoped to see him back to scoring form but it just isn’t going to happen. He can’t do it for club or country and there is a point when you have to call it a day – and let’s not forget his 9 week ban for indiscipline for eye gouging. Who says that it’s inexperienced players who do this and that 9 week ban is showing in his game. Ian McGeechan et al didn’t select him for the Lions for a reason. Ugo Monye has more pace but please bring on Charlie Sharples – if England have him on one wing and CA on the other, England will have a potent attack.

    I think that Wales have far less of a headache and reckon most of their key players will be on that plane particularly if they get any more injuries! However how can you put Priestland on standby? Are you bonkers? He is on that plane with his seat-belt fastened and aperitif in hand.

    As for Henson, I just don’t think he’s going to make it. unless there are major injury casualties. He is under real pressure to perform and somehow I don’t think he can cope with that pressure – the game has moved on and unfortunately he’s been left behind.

    1. Clare, I agree with you about Hape and Cueto but I’m trying to think what Martin Johnson is thinking and he loves experience and that’s why I think those two will go.

      And after the second England – Wales match I agree that Priestland is a shoe in.

  3. Why is Tom Wood missing from on the plane, passport on standby and work to do?

    My team to play saturday:

    1. Sheridan
    2. Mears
    3. Stevens
    4. Shaw
    5. Botha
    6. Wood
    7. Robshaw
    8. Haskell
    9. Simpson
    10. Wilkinson
    11. Sharples
    12. Tindall
    13. Tuilagi
    14. Ashton
    15. Foden

    16. Hartley
    17. Cole
    18. Palmer
    19. Croft
    20. Youngs
    21. Flood
    22. Armitage

    1. A few queries:

      Sheridan over Cole- Hard call but i think Cole has more to offer. Sheridan no longer has that physicality that we remember.

      Mears over Hartley- Hartley has been solid for England, whereas Mears has hardly been played recently.

      Shaw over Lawes or Palmer- I admit that Shaw looked energetic in the first 30 mins, but after he was poor in my opinion. Whereas Lawes is a potentially world class second row and Palmer is on top form at the moment.

      Robshaw over Croft- Robshaw is one of my favourite flankers, and deserves consideration, but again he has little test experiance. That and Croft is our best hope in the lineout, aswell being great in the loose.

      Simpson over Youngs, Care, or Wigglesworth- A ton of talent here, but wasnt Simpson dropped to make space for the other three, two of which have a fair bit of experiance.

      Not sure about the centre partership- both warrant a place in the squad, but together, i doubt it. if you have Manu then want someone who can pass the ball to him.

  4. im sorry but you have obviously done no research into the potential welsh squad as richie rees and andrew bishop have already been dropped from the squad same goes for yapp and lou reed and jason tovey not james! is injured and have left the squad and the fact that you have no natural no6 on the plane is a joke and having lydiate adam jones and falutau not as dead certs is a joke lydiate and jones are two of the first names on the team sheet!lloyd burns ryan bevington justin tipuric and josh turnbull are all thought of very highly and are certainly rated higher than williams powell thomas andrews and muccusker at the moment and hibbard has been injured sincebefore the babas game so burns is way ahead of him at the moment possibly ahead of bennett aswell and like him or not hensons going to be there or there abouts so basically your whole work to do list has more of a chance of going than most of your passports on standby list youve not even mentioned lloyd williams who at the moment is one of 3 scrum halves in the squad and they will probably take all three

    1. In Tim’s defence, I don’t think those guys have officially been dropped – they were just left out of the training squad for the first Wales game I believe. I may be wrong…

      Agree that some of the maybes should arguably be on the definites, but everyone has an opinion don’t they. Lydiate is a must-have in my view, as are Priestland and Adam Jones.

  5. how is Dan Lydiate only on the ‘Passport on Standby’ when he has clearly been Gatlands first choice 6 for the past 7/8 games at least, and will his first choice 6 for the next 5/6 years….and yes Adam Jones, coming back from injury, would most definitely be flying down if fit, which i assume he is, considering he is with the training squad?!

    1. I don’t think we can, Matt. I wouldn’t be in favour of putting either of them on the wing out of their favoured position. It’s a nice position to be in to have them both on form and pushing each other for the jersey.

      Foden is England’s best player I reckon, and should start the big games.

      1. Foden’s still the best 15 – assuming he starts at the weekend let’s see how he plays though to judge current form. Having Armitage on the bench to cover 11/13/14/15 would be very handy though

        I agree with an earlier article / post on the Blog that Danny Care didn’t help the backline one iota on Saturday. Watching the ball in the ruck for 5secs, then picking up slowly, taking a few steps, then releasing turns quick ball into turgid ball. I’m not sure Simpson’s a finished-enough article to take his backup scrumhalf spot but it would be interesting to see how Wigglesworth performs if given a chance. Let’s hope Ben Youngs regains some of his early season form as we need him desperately.

  6. Yep you’re right Hutch – just annoying how there are 2 world class full backs vying for one spot and no world class centres vying for 2 spots hahaha. Although Tuilagi does look promising.

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