England announces team to play New Zealand


Dylan Hartley will win his 50th England cap against New Zealand in Saturday’s QBE International at Twickenham Stadium. First capped in 2008, Hartley will start in a XV showing one change from that which started against Argentina last Saturday with Dan Cole replacing David Wilson at tight-head prop.

There are two other changes to the 23, Matt Mullan coming on to the replacements’ bench in place of the injured Alex Corbisiero, while Ben Youngs returns in place of Danny Care.

England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster said: “It’s a great achievement for Dylan to reach 50 caps. We are a young side but one that is growing with every game and it’s important to have leaders like Dylan.

“We have had some enforced changes with Alex Corbisiero and Mako Vunipola unavailable and we have been unable to consider a number of players due to short and long term injuries. But we are ready for the challenge of playing a top quality side in New Zealand and are excited about playing at Twickenham. The atmosphere was amazing for this game last year – the crowd made a real difference and I’m sure they can help inspire us again on Saturday.”

England (v New Zealand, QBE International, Saturday, 2.30pm, Twickenham Stadium)
15 Mike Brown (Harlequins, 20 caps)
14 Chris Ashton (Saracens, 36 caps)
13 Joel Tomkins (Saracens, 2 caps)
12 Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby, 7 caps)
11 Ben Foden (Northampton Saints, 33 caps)
10 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 18 caps)
9 Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints, 11 caps)
1 Joe Marler (Harlequins, 14 caps)
2 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 49 caps)
3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 42 caps)
4 Joe Launchbury (London Wasps, 13 caps)
5 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 24 caps)
6 Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 22 caps)
7 Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, capt, 19 caps)
8 Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 4 caps)
16 Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 11 caps)
17 Matt Mullan (London Wasps, 1 cap)
18 David Wilson (Bath Rugby, 30 caps)
19 Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers, 18 caps)
20 Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby, 14 caps)
21 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 34 caps)
22 Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers, 59 caps)
23 Alex Goode (Saracens, 12 caps)

Don’t forget – you can win tickets to the game in our competition.

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

27 thoughts on “England announces team to play New Zealand

  1. Horrendous – I know that there’s some major injury problems but it looks like a team that’s been put out to minimise the amount we lose by, not to try and win the game. The pack is just about there (bar Marler who wouldn’t make the 23 if Vunipola and Corbs were fit) but the backs are all wrong, particularly the midfield.

    Lancaster made a big mistake with picking Joel Tomkins, who has been utterly mediocre throughout the autumn internationals (like Brad Barritt but inexperienced). Yet another of the England management’s obsession with New Zealand, I’ve heard him referred to before as a potential ‘English Sonny Bill’ – eugh.

    Not convinced by 12T either. Should have picked one of Burrell or Eastmond in the centres to try and give a little attacking edge and fill the gap left by Tuilagi. I know he’s keen not to drop players after one poor performance but Tomkins has been utterly anonymous throughout.

    Farrell just isn’t the answer – I don’t know why Toby Flood isn’t playing, he’s so much better at attacking the line and getting the team moving forward. I’m happy with Dickson but he needs a fly half who works with him and runs on to the quick ball he provides, not one that stands deep and just chucks it away.

    Why Goode is on the bench I have no idea, as we already have 2 full backs on the pitch and a 10 on the bench and he can’t cover anything else. Would have been a good place to put Burrell or Eastmond to at least give them a cap and a little experience – as it is, it’s a wasted bench spot.

    1. Firstly, who would you play at 13? Are there any other 13s in the Premiership that have performed to a higher standard that Tomkins? Trinder maybe but he had a couple of injury issues leading into the Autumn. Tomkins hasn’t let anyone down so I don’t know why he is being criticized.

      And the Twelvetrees thing amazes me. It is typical English theatrics. Everyone has wanted him in the side of about a year, he gets the chance and what we all want is the new hot shot this season, Burrell? Absolute nonsense.

      Flood has had the chance at international level on many occasions, and proved he is good, but no world beater. Farrell has out-performed him, simple as that. Also, Dickson does ok inside Myler at Saints, who I’m pretty sure plays the same way Farrell does.

      I understand your point about the 23 shirt – it could be more exciting. Burrell would surely make no more sense than Goode though? He can cover only 12, and there are already three (Farrell, Twelvetrees and Flood), that cover that position. Eastmond makes sense but you could use the same reason if SL believes that he is a 12 and only a 12.

      1. I don’t think Farrell has proved he is a world beater either. He and Flood are very different and Flood has a much better attacking game, playing flat to the line, bringing the attack over the gainline every time and it means that anyone of the backline could be the strike, rather than just the last player. I’ve only seen Farrell play like that once for England, oddly, against New Zealand last year. I also don’t think Farrell is quite as good at pinning the opponent back with kicks in the style of Wilkinson. To be honest with you, I’m much more excited by the prospect of Freddie Burns. I think what people see as a problem in the centres and the wings stems largely from the fact that the only attack is coming from the wings under the tactics used and by the time the ball reaches them 4 tacklers have drifted out to isolate them. Whether that’s actually Farrell’s fault or a gameplan is another question.

        Dickson is one area I’ve been disappointed with the England side in the AIs. I said before it started that he was the form scrum half with quick ball and some great tactical play. Unfortunately, he’s just been stagnant. Slow ball, always going to the same place, no interesting loop arounds like he’s been playing at Northampton this season.

        I’m also still dubious about Courtney Lawes. Yes he can tackle, but I’ve never seen him carry to any useful degree, an area that Parling excels at, without being a shoddy tackler himself.

        1. The difference being that Flood has 50+ caps and has been around for years, Farrell is 21.

          I don’t necessarily think that Farrell is the answer either, I also prefer Burns. But right now, I’d pick Farrell. He is playing better than any of the other 10s in the Premiership and what else do we have to go on? Burns has had a poor start to the season unfortunately so SL can’t pick him.

          I would have agree with you about Dickson after the Australia game, but I thought he was brilliant last week. He went off after around 50 minutes (I think), so didn’t have much effect in the second half, but first half (when we played well), he was at the centre of that.

          Second row is an interesting one, and to be honest, any two of those three in the squad I’d be very happy with. All of them are very good players and I’d expect SL to pick two of them based on form and opposition. He is getting it right so far in that department I think.

          1. I have nothing against the centres, I like trinder but it is a close call.

            My main contention is with Farrell, he is an average passer at best and makes a lot of bad calls, his judgement of space is not great. The centres struggle because of crappy 10’s.

            Cipp should be given the 6N if he continues his good form at sale, he could be a world beater, farrell never will be.

      2. I’m happy with Twelvetrees at 12, don’t get me wrong. I just think that he’s playing poorly in a poor Gloucester team at the moment and his selection goes completely against Lancaster’s stated policy of picking players on form. We all wanted him in the side when on form, but right now there are inside centres playing better than him including both Burrell and Eastmond.

        Burrell can play both 12 and 13 (he has done so a number of times for Saints) – likewise Eastmond is a top talent and I’d go with the Clive Woodward view that you should always get your best players on the pitch, 13 or 12 is not a huge issue. One of them should have been given a shot against Australia or Argentina. I wouldn’t have even had Tomkins in the squad, please don’t mistake dependability for international class and the ability to win games – especially when 13 is such a pivotal attacking position for England with Tuilagi usually there. I think Tomkins has let England down because he played poorly against Australia and then went completely missing in the second half against Argentina.

        The reason Dickson and Myler are looking so good this season is precisely because Alex King has come in and stopped Myler from playing exactly like Farrell – Myler now attacks the gainline far more and is having his best season ever. Just because he’s a northerner from a league background, doesn’t make him just like Farrell.

        1. I wouldn’t say Burrell has done anything to suggest he is a better 13 than Tomkins. Tomkins has done absolutely nothing wrong, and he is very good defensively. Can we all please remember we won a world cup with Tindall playing 13? Nothing wrong with solid depandable players.

          SL has done very well with form selections. Yes form is an important factor when making a selection, but he also can’t change the XV from week to week playing this months hot shot.

          A good example is Dickson, he is on form and gets a chance. He has already been in and around the England set and therefore can come in seamlessly.

          Bringing Burrell is because he has started the season well is a very big gamble. And if SL see’s Twelvtrees as the long term option – he needs to gather experience going into 2015.

          The Myler/Farrell comparison was simply based around playing style, not their League/Northern roots. I still don’t think we can call Myler an attacking 10.

          1. Christ Jacob. Is that the summit of your ambition for England players. Safe, dependable, wont let you down? Meanwhile NZ, the team all other aspire to are playing a wing at centre, trying different things, rather than the tried and tested (and failed) like England do.

            1. I’m not saying that safe and dependable is preferable; I’m just saying it isn’t a problem. If Trinder was fit and firing before the Autumn, I’d have picked him. Tomkins hasn’t let anyone down thought so I’d have no issues with continuing with him.

              On any selection a player has to be able to do all the basics very well – then if they offer more then that is when they start entering the “world class” bracket. There is not another Englishman that can replace Tuilagi; so in the mean time Tomkins is doing a good enough job for me.

            2. Difference between the All Blacks and England is that the All Blacks can afford to make these changes. Nonu has well over 50 caps at IC and Carter has 99 at FH. The All Blacks, more than any team, have the most conservative attitude when selecting new players because it’s always done in a settled team where they can get the best out of that new player. When have you ever seen an experimental team from the All Blacks, like the teams England selected against a weakened Argentina in June.

              England’s midfield has 9 caps combined! England’s FH has 18 caps. The SH has 11 caps. That’s not tried and tested. England has a lot of injuries and they have to make do with what they have. As someone posted before, this backline could include the third choice SH, second choice IC, third choice OC, and fourth choice wing.

              I sincerely believe that if Lancaster selected the backline that some of the posters want, the All Blacks would put at least 30 on England, even with a strong pack. It would be a confidence killer for those new players. It would be smart not to forget the lessons from the Tour of Hell in 1998.

  2. About all that SL could do with the resources available. The only selection issue I was mulling over was Youngs or Dickson to start and I think that Dickson earned his chance last week. Youngs, Youngs, Parling and Morgan can all make an impact off the bench.

    SL does indeed need to take a long hard look at our backline as at present it really isn’t up to scratch probably in personel or tactics.

    Having said that if you had a backline of


    most people would call that fairly exciting, so maybe the problem is more depth (a major issue at present) and tactics (what I think is wrong at present). All we need is this sorted in the next 12 months and then a settled canter into the RWC. Easy, I don’t know what everyone is worried about!

    1. Staggy, speaking as a Bristol fan (and therefore NOT a Bath fan) I think that young George Ford is the eventual answer. His problem is that he is probably a good season away from being ready, which is not good timing for the RWC.

      I am not saying he should be there on saturday, just that he is the way forward. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him slip into the EPS for the 6N at Burns’ expense. I think they’ll keep Flood.

      1. Agree 100%. I’m not delighted with Farrell but he’s generally going to kick goals, defend his channel and add to the overall testicle count of the team. However, I’m phenomenally excited about Ford. Given a season as first choice 10 at Bath, with time to work on his kicking, defense and tactics, I think he’s got the potential to turn our prosaic attack in to something quite exceptional.

        Lancaster is getting a lot of rubbish thrown at him but in his defense, he’s built, almost from scratch, a formidable pack, with a lot of strength in depth. He’s been in the job for less than 2 years but has a win record at this stage that is superior to almost all of his predecessors.

        And at least what we can say of this series, regardless of the result on Saturday, Ashton’s international career is pretty much over and if injury hadn’t intervened, we would have started a major test with Wade and Yarde on the wings. Seems like progress to me

        1. I wouldn’t hold your breath on ashton. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ashton is the starting wing in February. Whilst SL has established some talent and depth with the pack (partly with the help of the much maligned Johnson regime – Lawes, Wilson, Hartley, Cole, Corbs, Wood), he has done naff all with the backs. Wasted all of last seaon persisting with Ashton, Brown and Goode based on the one-off NZ game, when in fact Manu was the main reason for that success. He dropped 12t after the Scotland game, and failed to use the Italian game to blood talent like Billy V or Wade. Yes the injuries are unfortunate, by why is the only other wing cover we have either a full back or Strettle! (Yes I know Strettle is doing well in the prem, but he has been utter t0ss for England)

      2. Not disagreeing about Ford in the long term (as a Glos fan!), but Burns completely outplayed him in the Bath Glos game earlier this season despite being behind a beaten pack, so he definitely isn’t there yet, and I don’t think he is one for this RWC. So let’s give Farrell and Burns the opportunity to develop their games in the run up.

  3. I suspect that the coaches are more frustrated at the injuries to Wade and Yarde than they are by Corbisiero and Vunipola. After all, they know what the props give the team, and whilst this will be missed in this game, they know that come the 6Ns they will hopefully be back in the firing line.

    The two wingers (and possibly Trinder as well, as he is being constantly talked up) are just remaining as unknown quantities (at this level).

    So, in effect, we could see this team as the 2nd choice 12 (although I would prefer him to Barritt) 3rd choice outside centre, and the 3rd and 4th choice wingers – though that may be a little harsh on Foden who might well have contested a wing berth had all been fit anyway.

    Anyway, the point is that they are a little hampered with the choices, and much as Burrell and Eastmond have flashed into the domestic rugby consciousness, and both look very exciting, the tought of having those two in the centres in place of Twelvetrees and Tomkins rather strikes me as an optimistic gamble.

    Of course, we all love such gambles when they pay off, but there is little support for the selection if it doesn’t quite go as hoped.

    Talking of “gambles” of course, it should be remembered that the coaches see these players close up, working together, and against each other in artificially pressurised environments, so one would hope that the selections are based on objective reasoning.

    I see where people assume that this is a “safe” selection, but I would rather Tomkins opposite Ben Smith, than a young 12 full of attacking potential. I would also say that Tomkins attacking play has looked impressive whenever I have seen Saracens play, and he certainly deserves more chances at International level.

    On the question of “who at 23”, Goode is the only logical choice to cover the outside backs. Eastmond or Burrell would be exposed horribly at this level should one of the back three get injured.

    Carter, Smith, Nonu and Dagg know a thing or two about applying pressure through the boot.

    Marcus Watson on the other hand……..

      1. Would you really want to pick a 19 year old kid on the bench for his first test against the All Blacks? That’s a massive gamble with Watson in a young team.

        1. I questioned it because I don’t know who Marcus Watson is and thought it was someone I hadn’t heard of. Not sure if Blub meant Anthony Watson

          On the age thing though, George North aged 18 and picked after a mere 6 games for the Scarlets gets his first cap and scores 2 tries against South Africa, then world champions

          Sometimes if you’re good enough, you’re old enough

  4. Goode is the only sensible choice for 23. Eastmond is the only other to compete that claim and his form (not necessarily his fault) has been awful this season, and has not been played on the wing, which is where his cover would be needed.

    Burrell is questionable at best in defence, I’d certainly trust Tomkins and 36 over him.

    We’ve been unfortunate on the wings, but with the squad as it is, and our opponents, having a fullback on the wing is not necessarily a bad thing.

  5. About the best we have to offer considering our injuries. Disappointing that Ashton is getting yet another “one last chance” but Lancaster can scarcely be blamed for the regrettable turn of events that robbed him of all the realistic alternatives. Glad to see that Dickson is recognised for what he brought against Argentina. I have nothing against B Youngs, but he’s best suited to playing as an impact sub, his looping runs and breaks work far more effectively against a tired defence in the final 20 minutes or so.

    Farrell… well he was better against Argentina than against Australia (a truly dire performance that was, manufactured try aside) so if he can continue on that trajectory I think we’ll end up with something to be happy with. Tomkins could do with making an offload once in a while but he’s still new to the code and the international environment and he’s yet to make any howlers so until Manu returns to his fitness I’ve no issue with him as our first choice 13.

    To be honest, we’re better off focusing on the pack in any case as they are where this match will be won or lost. No Corbs is a blow but Cole’s form seems to be returning slowly but surely, and it’s nice to have a prop who’s solid (if not Adam Jones-level good like Corbs is close to) in the scrum but also effective around the park, and particularly at the breakdown which is going to be a key area.

    We’re definitely underdogs and I wouldn’t be surprised or overly dismayed if the All Blacks beat us by a converted try or two as long as we gave it a good go, but we’ve got the tools to make it interesting. Saturday can’t come soon enough!

  6. Injury has forced SL hand here. We have some world class backs in Youngs and Tuilagi. Farrell, brown, the other scrum halves, foden are all good players. 12trees, burns, eastmond, wade and yarde have had limited opportunities but are good potential players.

    Lets hope we can foster a back line like this going forward:

    Youngs, care, Dickson
    Farrell, burns, ford
    Twelvetrees, Burrell, eastmond
    Tuilagi, daly
    Wade, yarde, may, nowell
    Brown, Watson, foden

  7. I’m also expecting our forwards to do a job. They’ve been excellent so far, shows how far people like marler have developed that we can absorb the loss of two stand out lions in one position!!

    The AB scrum has looked weak this year and the key to last years victory was the unrelenting comity eng to rucks and tackles, throwing players back all day and slowing their ball, and keeping it free for us. If they bring that same comitment we’ll have a platform

  8. All this criticism of 36 and Tomkins. Can we please remember that 36 only has (I believe) 5 caps (6 games including BaBa’s) for England and Tomkins will get his 3rd on Saturday!! This will be only the 3rd time they will have played together in a competitive game at any level. We have to give them a chance. Because of injuries they are the best centre combo we have. At least that’s what SL believes, and that’s why he picked them!! If he picked Burrell or Eastmond, they would have even less experience, and it would an even less experience centre pairing, and could be disastrous. SL has already said he wants to get up to 2nd in the world ratings. We’re not going to do that by chucking an uncapped centre into a new pairing against the best team in world rugby.
    I’ve watched Tomkins get better game by game for Sarries, but it has taken time. His form for Sarries is what got him into the England team, but like any player, it will take him time and a few games to adjust to this level.

    1. Dazza, out of interest can you name any other international players who gradually came good rather than those that started with a bang and carried on?

      Personally I don’t buy this “give them time” angle – the time is in the domestic game up to that point in their career. By the time they get into the national shirt they shouldn’t be effectively considered as starting back at zero, having to adjust etc.

      If I look at Wales successes in past seasons I see players who arrived and made an impact straight away – Cuthbert, North, Halfpenny, Warburton, Lydiate. Hibbard – Hibbard is a prime example. He was picked a few times before but didn’t cut the grade so was dropped. He was picked and tried again and only when he did cut it at international level did he get the run of games.

      I’m not saying it doesn’t happen I just can’t recall players who took a good number of games to finally blossom on international stage?

      1. Agree with you on this Brighty – if they don’t look good enough then they shouldn’t be playing. I suspect (hope) that if Tomkins doesn’t impress against NZ then we won’t see him in the 6N, even if Manu isn’t fit.

        Another thing I’d say is that I admire Gatland et al for giving Priestland and Biggar one start each in the opening two games – great way to build depth. Would have been nice if Lancaster had done that and given Burns a go last weekend v Arg. Best chance he would have had for a while, as too much tends to ride on the 6N to chance your arm a bit.

Comments are closed.