England announces 24 man squad for Wales test


The following 24 players have been retained by England to prepare for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations match against Wales at Twickenham.

Manu Tuilagi is retained, as widely expected, with Alex Goode heading back to Saracens as the sacrificial lamb. Luke Cowan-Dickie is retained as Jones and his staff monitor an injury to Jamie George.

Forwards (14)
Kieran Brookes (Northampton Saints)
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs)
Jack Clifford (Harlequins)
Jamie George (Saracens)
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
James Haskell (Wasps)
Maro Itoje (Saracens)
George Kruis (Saracens)
Joe Launchbury (Wasps)
Joe Marler (Harlequins)
Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
Billy Vunipola (Saracens)
Mako Vunipola (Saracens)

Backs (10)
Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Danny Care (Harlequins)
Elliot Daly (Wasps)
Owen Farrell (Saracens)
George Ford (Bath Rugby)
Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby)
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)
Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

England head coach Eddie Jones commented:

“Jamie George sustained an injury to his arm during this afternoon’s training so Luke Cowan-Dickie remains with the squad as cover while Jamie undergoes further medical assessments.”

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

51 thoughts on “England announces 24 man squad for Wales test

  1. It looks like the same back row as before given Ed slater has been jettisoned. Bit of a risk if we need reps for the second and back rows. I would have liked to see Itoje at 6 with Slater retained.

    I also find it a bit depressing that Jones is coming over Lancasterish in regard to Tuilagi. Luther Burrell must be searching his ancestry to see he has any Celtic blood.Hopefully Manu will be used purely as an impact sub with fifteen mins left. He’s had no time to strike a rapport with JJ and he surely cant be fit enough for a full 80 in a game of such intensity? If the strategy is to start him in the hope that he batters the Welsh into submission then replace him with Faz in the latter stages then that is full of pitfalls,the obvious one being that it doesn’t work, Wales contain him and England have to chase the game.

    Eddie has ridden his luck up to now but I have a feeling his judgement is a bit skewed here. Wales by ten.

    1. Really dont get the negativity and whilst it is very possible that Wales could win this, when was the last time they won by 10 at Twickenham? Lets retain some sense of balance.

      1. 1976 England 9 Wales 21.
        I can remember like it was yesterday. Which is funny cos I would’ve been age -8.

        1. Ha! the year before I was born, so no wonder it didn’t ring any bells! I think my point still stands though. A 10 point win for Wales at Twickenham – very unlikely.

  2. Happy with this.

    Goode added little value to the bench as his position was already covered, Manu is a risk on fitness and familiarity, but it’s worth taking.

    Pleased to see Brookes back as well, means there’s no need for Cole to do 80 mins and some big scrummaging impact off the bench. Hill’s time will come.

    Although it’s not the most balanced and fleet of foot backrow I don’t think it’s too poorly suited to the opposition, i.e. stopping a lot of big route 1 crash ball runners.

    Faz going high with his “big man” tackles on Roberts isn’t going to end well. I really hope he understands his job is to get his man down, not attempt to physically impose himself as I feel he seems to want to do, only one winner there.

  3. Really happy with this. The two biggest weaknesses from the squad have been addressed. Hill (although I’m sure is a talented chap) was never going to get much of a look in even off the bench.
    Brooke’s is a quality addition to the squad.
    Manu for Goode makes a lot of sense as we have 4 players in the squad already who cover 15 in Brown Nowell Watson and Daly.
    Regardless of if he starts or comes off the bench Tuilagi is the one player the Welsh will fear. He is our one truly world class talent and him being in the squad is a no brainer.

    1. Can’t agree that Tuilagi is our one world class player. According to EJ we have NO players in that category! Tuilagi has massive potential but In response to Benjit et al,I don’t get the unalloyed optimism being shown here. We pilloried Lancaster for buggering about with centre partnerships and now ,after 3 games,Jones is doing the same thing (we assume).,with a player that hasn’t played int’l rugby for over a year,in the biggest game of the 6N so far, with a partner he is unfamiliar with, after a long lay off due to injury!

      Call me a miserable sod if you want but I fail to see many positives in any of this. I’m willing to be corrected but with logic,not emotion and wishful thinking.

      1. I will rephrase it then. He is the one player we have that any team in the world fears playing against. That includes the All Blacks. I don’t think he will start (and I’m kind of hoping he doesn’t) but I think as a player to bring on with 20 mins left and tired legs creeping in he is going to be invaluable.

      2. Teecee – you seem to be assuming that Tuilagi will be starting. I’d be very surprised if he does. In which case EJ is not buggering around with centre partnerships any more than he has been

        And if he is on the bench, do you not think that a bench of Tuilagi and Daly will give the Welsh much more to be concerned about than if Goode was still in the mix?

        1. I agree and think Tui will be starting off the bench, although the tinkering comment could hold weight can I throw something in to consider?

          Had Tui been fit would he of been part of the centre partnership from Scotland onwards, could it be reasonable that Eddie is looking at options whilst Tui recovered, knowing that Farrell can play 10 and increasing his playing time at 12 under suggestion of Gustard and seeing if an axis of Ford and Farrell is an option?

  4. Very happy with this squad. A bit worried about LCD as hooker cover, but EJ is being true to his word and evolving the squad. No Goode, no Barritt, no Parling, no Wood and no T Youngs. The dead wood is being cleared out.

    I’m not overly worried by the backrow, it did well in Cardiff last year and I imagine Robshaw is busting to make amends for the World Cup loss. I expect him to have a BIG game.

  5. I previously commented that Tuilagi is still a bit under cooked, but my word that looks like some team on paper.

  6. This team could win, not sure if they will but they could and that is good enough for me. Manu had to come in on the bench just for the extra option. He might not be used but if we need something special in the last 20 min then he could be it. Everybody is wondering if he can play inside centre, I reckon with this much notice if he comes on it will be at outside centre.

    This is not a game to throw all the young players in, if we did not do it against Italy then why would we do it now, I reckon Hill, Slater, Clifford will all play in the future but not now.

    1. Eddie Jones has stated that Tuilagi “is not a 13 mate”. It would be a large double bluff to pick him there after he made that comment so unequivocally.

      1. In the same press conference he said there will be no more 6.5’s only a 6 and a 7
        Take everything Eddie says with a pinch of salt

  7. Whether Tuilagi plays or not the Welsh will be sh**ting themselves. The fear factor brought by the man is equal to his size. I support the idea he is the one world class player England have.
    Why else did EJ bring him back so quickly?
    Hopefully he’ll be given more than fifteen minutes (I’d be tempted to give him an entire half). Comparisons with the use of Burgess v Wales in WC are off the wall. Burgess was league trying to fit into Union whereas Tuilagi IS Union and knows it.
    Give Faz and JJ the first half to see how they cope then bring on the big gun!
    No predictions of England to win (it’s too arrogant and not politically correct for some reason) Besides Clive Woodward’s been supporting Gatland over the last 48 hrs and Howley thanked him for it!
    A good tight game!

    1. Ah, but lest we forget, it was Brad “defensive guru” Barritt who rushed out of the defensive line creating a massive hole for the Welsh try. And that was AFTER Burgess had gone off.
      I realise that it was just a comment in passing, but I still believe Burgess was very unfairly scapegoated and I like to mount a swift defence when I see the assumption perpetuated that he was at fault in the RWC.

      Agree on the use of Tuilagi v Wales. Not sure about playing him the whole half, but would like to see him enter the fray around 50-55 mins so he has time to make a real impact.

      I don’t care about being called arrogant or politically incorrect. I reckon England will win this. I can’t see either team winning by a big points margin. I call England by about 4-8.

    2. Wales sh***ing themselves at Tuilagi? The last time he played against us was in the 30-3 win I believe. He was culpable for some missed points by England in that first half.

      Look, I’m not saying he’s poor, hes not improved or that this is a poor side at all, I think the game promises to be either very tight or just so one sided it’s unreal (I’m completely sitting on the fence), but this idea that Tui is a magic weapon that terrorises us is laughable.

  8. Interesting to see Launchbury fit. Do you start him or stick with the Kruis / Itoje partnership that was great against Ireland?

    Also any Northampton fans able to shed some light on how Brookes has been playing since he came back from injury? I watched the ITV highlights of the weekend’s games last night and Flatman was full of praise for Hill

    1. Itoje/ Launchbury – a very nice conundrum to have! Tbh I’m happy either way. Could start Launchbury for ballast in the scrum and bring on Itoje for impact, or start Itoje and move him to 6 when Launch comes on. I’m backing Robshaw to have a big game, so wouldn’t start Maro at 6.

      For whatever reason Jones doesn’t yet trust P Hill, and Cole is being played a lot, so Brookes being on the bench makes sense, means we can have a fresh front row as a unit.

      Saw the Exeter match. S Hill’s stats were comparable, if not better than Tuilagi’s re line breaks, metres made, tackles etc. However Healy made the point that Tuilagi’s breaks seemed to have so much more impact. Hill just didn’t catch the eye IMO. I feel he might be one of those players who are in the “good club player” category, rather than test quality.

    2. Think Launchbury will be on the bench. Kruis and Itoje were solid against Ireland, so could be a ridiculous impact bench with Launchbury & Tuilagi

    3. Brookes first game back was highly ropey but he seems to have settled since then hes been playing a shift for 5 weeks in a row now so it fair to say he’s fully fit now

  9. Very happy with the selection in general. Hopefully George is fine and then this is some way to being what I think our best 23 looks like.

    Manu off the bench will make a great impact hopefully. If there is an injury in the 1st minute we have the luxury of Daly being quite versatile.

    My biggest worry is still the lack of speed in the back row. I don’t think we secure early phase ball quick enough and that often leads to a penalty against us. I think this lack of breakdown speed is what often leads to our poor disciplinary.

    Other than that though, Jones seems to be developing the squad very nicely! This game could really go either way!

    1. I share your concerns over the speed of the back row, BUT they have done a decent job in the past, not least against Wales in Cardiff. Whilst I’d be happy to see Clifford start at 7 and Robshaw to duke it out with Haskell for the 6 spot, I do feel that given the recent history they may play well above what we have seen in the last few weeks. I’d also argue that Warbutron and Lydiate have not been in top form so far.

      1. I would much prefer to see Clifford in there over Haskell or Robshaw. I think both of those two are very good players, i just think that as a pair they are a bit similar. I like the look of our front 5 options but I still worry our back row lacks something.

        Our backs are suddenly looking so much better as a group than they did under SL as well. Sticking with 9’s like Care and Youngs over Dicksons/Wrigglesworths makes such a big difference, and also ridding of the Barritts/Goode’s of the world that just don’t cut it (that being said I am willing to be proven wrong by Goode at some point, he does look as though he has gone up a level). Even so, throw Slade and possibly May into that group of backs and suddenly all looks very good!

        1. Agree. this is the first time, in a very long time, that I have got really excited about England, in addition to those you mention there is also Wade, Simpson, Robson, Lewington, Cipriani, Devoto who could come into the mix.

          Whilst it was very painful to watch, the WC exit may prove to be a turning point, as it was for Wales in 2007. I shudder to think of what we would be facing if Lancaster was still in charge. Youngs, Wood, Barritt and Goode for sure, with Wigglesworth, Burrell and 12t still a likelihood!

          1. I’d also add that Lancaster would no doubt have caved into Cockers and not picked Manu. Now this may prove to be a bad decision by Eddie, but I like that he is willing to stand up to the clubs.

            1. Completely agree – there are a lot of talented backs that just wouldn’t have got a look in under SL that now have a great chance to impress under Jones.

              Lewington I really like the look of, but I think Irish might well go down this season which could hinder his England changes significantly. Wonder when his contract ends?

          2. Benjit We should thank Wales for their world cup win.Had England made the quarters Stu and his clapped out crew would still be there and our morale would be even lower if that were possible.Too horrible to contemplate!

  10. One thin we have to remember here is that although Tuilagi may not have played much with JJ, he has played a fair bit with Ford. Not at this level maybe, but they played a fair bit together at Tigers, and I suspect if Tuilgai is on the bench, he will come on for Farrell and leave Ford at 10. I don’t think he’s going to start Tuilagi unless he really proves himself in training.

    Whilst the Ford/Farrell axis may not have given us too much yet, it hasn’t really let us down either. Solid in defence, and we’ve scored more tries than anyone else so they’re doing something right.

    Also just seen on BBC that Jamie George is out for the rest of the 6N! Unlucky for him, as he’s been excellent off the bench. Hoping LCD can get his darts right. We know the rest of his game is good.

    1. That’s a real shame about George. As you say, he’s been excellent from the bench. He’s the future for England at hooker (hopefully sooner rather than later)

      The future generally loooks bright at hooker for England with players like LCD, Taylor and Thacker coming through – although someone mentioned to me that Thacker might be moving to the back row, anyone know any more?

    2. Gutting news about George, let’s hope LCD can get his darts right. He has been with the England camp for two weeks now since he didn’t go back to Exeter so with a bit of luck he will have improved in that area.

      Agree with you on Farrell/Ford too. Scotland, Italy and Ireland all had centers that would cause most midfields problems, and other than the occasional Irish NFL blocking move, we’ve held up well.

    3. Damn shame about J George. He is one hell of a hooker. Cowan-Dickie is great around the park, but still finding his aim with the rest of his game. Could be class in a year or two though.

    4. yikes! Has LCD played any rugby over the last few weeks? This is a worry as Hartley did noticeably tire at the end of the Ireland match.

      I believe EJ has already stated that it would be Farrell and not Ford to make way, and I too have not been unhappy with the Ford/ Farrell axis so far. I think England have had the best attack in this 6n, though it has to be said this has not been a vintage year.

  11. I like the idea of Tui coming off the bench for the last 20 minutes, if England can work through the phases and give the ball to Billy, keep Tui out of the ruck, give him the ball, keep Billy out of the ruck and repeat it could be the game breaker against a tiring defence but this is IF its a tight game, IF Wales make substitutions at the wrong time, IF there are any team changing injuries.

    I feel this will be England’s most difficult game as, even in Paris if England hit France with a high tempo game early on it will throw the French off their game.

    I expect it to be a tight encounter but will be surprised if wither side takes this by more than 5.

  12. It will be interesting to see how LCD set piece goes if he comes on – i assume that was the reason Youngs was dropped and don’t think LCD is any better in this area.

    Like the look of the squad, i think the bench looks stronger than the last few games and is starting to look like every player could make an impact when/if required.

    Might have considered dropping Robshaw and playing Itoje at 6 with Launch coming in purely to up the ball carrying ability but i agree with a few others Robshaw could well have a big game Saturday.

    1. Stu I agree with your comments about the bench and their impact, one of Lancaster’s weaknesses was a lack of something different on the bench you knew who was going to replace who and at what time, although you can argue that you could do the same with Jones my point is the players on the bench offer something different to what’s on the pitch, George differs to Hartley, Daly differs to JJ, Itoje differs to Robshaw, Haskell et. al.

      It’s not a carbon copy of what is already out there.

  13. I thought that EJ had always been pretty clear that the Ford-Farrell axis was temporary until Manu and Slade were fit. The interesting question comes as to where to play Slade when he comes back. EJ is clear that MT is a 12 and regards him as potentially world class. JJ is in the running for the Lions 13 shirt (unless Gatland is the manager and we can expect to see the Welsh backs with maybe Watson and Hogg at the back) and provides good balance to MT. Farrell has been the best 10 in the Premiership thus far so you’d assume OF at 10, MT at 12 and JJ at 13. I would have thought you could play Slade at 12 (giving different options) but I’d assume you’d need Daly at 13 to provide some bulk. If fit, after a 12 year break, it looks like we have options in the centre, I’m just not sure how you make the combinations work. Nice problem to have though!

    1. Some bulk? Daly is a fairly average sized outside back, around 90kg I believe…
      It’s remarkable that after so many years of juggling with drudgery (12T/Tomkins against NZ still makes me cringe) we’re finally bringing in some good midfielders. Tuilagi, Burrell, Hill, Slade, Joseph and Daly all competing for three matchday shirts.
      For me, as fantastic as Joseph has been, no combination boasts the same quality or balance as Slade/Tuilagi.

      1. A Slade Tuilagi partnership surely assumes playing Slade at 12 as a kicker/distributor and Tuilagi at 13. EJ seems certain that Tuilagi is a 12 (in the Nonu mould) and I would have thought that means a speedster – JJ – at 13. Possibly the best mix would be Slade at 10 (which is where I think EJ sees him) with MT and JJ outside. Harsh on Farrell and Ford though! I agree that Burrell has been unlucky (especially as he can play 12 or 13) and I’d like to see more of Daly (perhaps at 15). The main thing for me is that we find a partnership and stick with it as injuries allow. All the best centres have worked in pairs (Nonu-Smith, Roberts-Davies, Greenwood-Tindall (shame to have to go that far back)) and I can’t help but think we need to choose the right pairing with the potential to be world class and go from there. Separately is Eastmond out of the picture? I know he had a good game at the weekend and would like to think that EJ might have another look at him now the size police have moved on.

        1. Provided they both know their defensive responsibilities, does it really matter what number they’re wearing? Slade played outside Burgess in one of the WC warm ups against France and showed pretty good handling to give Watson a 1v1 with Dulin if I recall correctly. I could go on about why I think Slade would compliment Tuilagi better but to put it simply, if Manu’s being looked as a Nonu type player then we should be looking for a Conrad Smith type player as well. That being said, Joseph HAS been our best player recently and any combination of the three would have my approval after the WC selections.

        2. Why wouldn’t Slade play 13? Manu at 12 with Slade at 13 would feel very similar to a Nonu-Smith partnership in style.

          JJ and Daly are both great players, but possible lack the vision of a Slade. Equally I wouldn’t mind seeing Slade at 10. One thing that will be interesting to see if that once we have Slade fit, does EJ include him, Ford and Farrell all it the same 23?

          1. I don’t think it’s likely to have all three – Slade takes a centre spot and covers 10, Ford and Farrell fight for the 10 shirt. But if Slade starts at 12, you could have the third 10 on the bench in the usual 22 shirt. Just seems pointless, unless it is essential to the game plan to have a second distributor at 12.

            I think we will be seeing Slade, Tuilagi and one of Joseph/Daly always in the 23, they can then mess around with the starting centre partnership depending on game-plan and opposition – much as we used to do with Greenwood, Tindall and Catt. Balance of game-line breaker (Tuilagi), distributing second-10 with vision (Slade) and raw pace with a wicked step (Joseph/Daly). Sounds like a plan to me…

  14. I think Devoto could be a very good player, can play 10 but more likely 12 will be his settled position. Good all round skill set coupled with fair size and strength, only worry is lack of game time recently has stalled his development and not sure this will change too much even with moving clubs.

  15. Eastmond in my eyes could be a great player for England but if EJ sees Tuilagi at 12 where does he fit in, doesn’t fit the type that EJ is looking for there by sound of it even if Tui was unavailable

    1. Personally I don’t think Eastmond fits in at test level. Really, there are three centre types. Big ball carriers – he obviously isn’t. Silky runner – sort of. Playmaker – he is probably closest here. But for him to be a test match playmaker he needs a considerably better kicking game, and better vision.

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