After much speculation over the weekend, Martin Johnson has confirmed the 30 man squad that will travel to New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup 2011.
The England Head Coach has opted for a 17-13 split between forwards and backs, taking three specialist scrum-halves and hookers. There are however only two specialist fly-halves in Jonny Wilkinson and Toby Flood, with Richard Wigglesworth expected to provide injury cover. Scrum-half Joe Simpson is the only uncapped member of the squad, whilst Jonny Wilkinson is playing in his fourth Rugby World Cup. The age range stretches from Simon Shaw at 38 to Manu Tuilagi at just 20. The team will be lead by Bath Rugby’s Lewis Moody.
The selections of Tom Wood and Alex Corbisiero are just reward after having impressive debut seasons in the England jersey, while Lee Mears has made a pleasing return to the fold after a long injury layoff. Andrew Sheridan and Ben Youngs have both made the plane despite playing no part in the warm-up matches through injury.
Those players unlucky to miss out include Riki Flutey, Tim Payne, Paul Doran-Jones, Danny Care (injury), Mouritz Botha, Chris Robshaw, Hendre Fourie, Charlie Hodgson, Ugo Monye, Charlie Sharples. The most surprising of these cuts is Riki Flutey, who whilst he has not quite hit the form that saw him win so many accolades on the 2009 Lions tours, was seen as an essential playmaker who could unlock England’s stagnant backline. Monye’s race to be selected was hampered by injury, while Fourie was expected to travel given captain Lewis Moody’s injury problems.
What are your thoughts on the squad? Have the right calls been made?
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers), Nick Easter (Harlequins), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (Ricoh Black Rams), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Lee Mears (Bath Rugby), Lewis Moody (Bath Rugby), Tom Palmer (Stade Francais), Simon Shaw (Unattached), Andrew Sheridan (Sale Sharks), Matt Stevens (Saracens), Steve Thompson (London Wasps), David Wilson (Bath Rugby), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints).
Delon Armitage (London Irish), Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints), Matt Banahan (Bath Rugby), Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks), Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), Ben Foden (Northampton Saints), Shontayne Hape (London Irish), Joe Simpson (London Wasps), Mike Tindall (Gloucester Rugby), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).
Photos: Onside Images / Patrick Khachfe www.onsideimages.com