England Elite Squad: Pick the Starting Team

Martin Johnson

We spent the day at Twickenham yesterday watching the England squad being put through their paces in front of the public, and it got us thinking about who would make the starting XV.

Given that it was an exhibition day, it’s not too worrying, but the number of knock-ons, failed backs’ moves and missed lineouts didn’t do much to instill confidence. And then when asked in interview whether they trained like that all the time, Delon Armitage explained that it was “just like that, lots of drills.”

But anyway, we’ve put together another series of polls for each position in the starting team, so we’d like your thoughts on who you think should be starting in the autumn. We might then do this again just before the first match in November, and we’ll see how things have changed. We’ll also be able to see how close we are to the actual team that Johnno sends out against the All Blacks.

Let us know your thoughts by selecting your team below, and if you choose ‘Other’ for any, please leave a comment at the bottom.

Props (select two)

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Second Rows (select two)

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Back row (select three)

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Centres (select two)

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Wings (select two)

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16 thoughts on “England Elite Squad: Pick the Starting Team

  1. Interesting – nice to see after I voted how the total votes went, and I seemed to agree with most of them. Am fairly optimistic about this season for England. Bring on the World Cup!

  2. Mmmmm, agreed with most of the voting. Would just like to see some good young Hookers coming onto the scene, D.H gets wound up too easily and G.C is getting a bit stodgey.

  3. Hooker is a bit of a concern, and I checked the squad list a few times to make sure there wasn’t another brilliant hooker I’d missed off the poll.

    Thommo was looking a little more slender yesterday, so maybe he’s got himself in decent shape with one eye on the World Cup.

  4. Thommo does seem to have been around for ever, which makes choosing him feel a bit odd. Fascinating how Youngs and Foden seem to be resigning Delon and DC to the bench without so much as a sniff.

  5. Still can’t believe Robshaw didn’t make the EPS. Would of loved to see Croft, Robshaw and Moody form our back row (though granted, none of them play 8). At the moment, depending on injuries and new season performances, the starting team will hopefully look something like this:

    1. Sheridan
    2. Thomo
    3. Cole
    4. Attwood
    5. Lawes
    6. Croft
    7. Moody
    8. Haskell
    9. Youngs
    10. Flood
    11. Cueto
    12. Flutey
    13. Tindall
    14. Ashton
    15. Foden

    16. Hartley
    17. Wilson
    18. Shaw
    19. Easter
    20. Care
    21. Wilko
    22. Waldouck

  6. Fingers crossed as well that Alex Goode will be recognised and brought into the squad – fantastic young player who would make an excellent addition to the bench as a utility back.

  7. I think I’ve gone with the majority on most but I’d go with a few not listed here.

    8. Dan Ward-Smith
    12. Olly Barkley
    and of course….
    14. James Simpson-Daniel

    Still, nice to see the squad more settled. I popped along yesterday and was also quite concerned by the number of handling errors. That said, a lot of the drills seemed to focus on offloading and a more expansive game so that was encouraging at least.

  8. Hartley’s been very disappointing and a lot of the time I’d sooner see Mears play. He’s never looked like the player he does at Saints, and let’s face it, even at Saints he’s been known to let his temper get the better of him. And for England, his throwing has at times been utter crap! Say what you like about Borthwick (and let’s face it, we all have) but his strength is in the lineout and the service he got from Hartley was a shameful waste.

    Thommo is a bit more of a safe bet, and in Oz this summer he looked rejuvenated and very positive, even if he was being a bit of an idiot at times with his smug grinning at the Aussie pack.

    I hope we don’t coach all the positivity out of Youngs – it’s not all that long ago that Care came in and looked bright and unpredictable and full of ideas. Not so now, and I think the turgid coaching regime that produced all that dross last season is to blame.

    Only notable addition I hope to see for the above list is a fully fit Tom Rees. I’m surprised to see Easter outscore Haskell. Then I suppose we should keep an eye out for how quickly the returning Matt Stevens can get back up to international standard, but tight head is already much less of a problem than loose head.

    I must admit that I went with Simon Shaw on the list above, but I hope Attwood gets some game time too, because we do need another player on the right side of 37 to get some caps under his belt. I like Palmer but he’s just not consistent enough.

  9. Unfortunately, I think we all know that those 3 won’t ever get selected, even in the event of injuries. Would love to know the reasoning behind it

  10. Barkley, Dowson and Robshaw should all have been in this squad, and the fact that Barkley isn’t even in the Saxons is ludicrous.

    One thing that struck me whilst putting this together was the lack of options at Number 8. Dowson should be in ahead of Worsley I reckon, but also DWS would be a great asset here, and could potentially cover second row as well.

    Despite all this, I too am optimistic about the season. Frankly, I always am, but on the back of a win in Australia, there is at least something to build on and take heart from. We shall see!

  11. 1 – Sheridan
    2 – Hartley
    3 – Cole
    4 – Shaw
    5 – Laws
    6 – Haskell/Croft
    7 – Reece
    8 – Easter/Haskell
    9 – Joe Simpson
    10 – Flood
    11 – Strettle
    12 – Flutey
    13 – Waldock
    14 – Ashton
    15 – Foden
    Definitely the best team England has to pick from! And Tom Reece should be captain of England

  12. I can’t see Rees getting a start ahead of Moody before the World Cup. I do like Rees, but he has always been full of promise without actually delivering on the international stage – he hasn’t had a good run of games, but he’s had chances.

    Joe Simpson is certainly behind Ben ‘The Future’ Youngs at 9, Strettle is a long way down the pecking order for me on the wing, and I’d probably pick Thompson over Hartley at the moment, which is a bit of a U-turn for me.

  13. I think I would like to see the following…………

    1. Sheridan
    2. Thompson
    4. Attwood
    5. Lawes
    6. Croft
    8. crane
    9. youngs
    12. Hape
    13 Hipkiss
    14. Cueto
    15. foden

  14. I can’t believe everyone’s giving up on Sir Jonny already?! Flood does the job kind of OK, but he doesn’t compare to your Carter/Giteau/Steyns.

    I’d go with.

    1 – Sheridan
    2 – Thompson
    3 – Cole
    4 – Shaw
    5 – Lawes
    6 – Croft
    7 – Moody (c)
    8 – Haskell
    9 – Youngs
    10 – Wilkinson
    11 – Ashton
    12 – Flutey
    13 – Armitage
    14 – Monye
    15 – Foden

    16 – Wilson
    17- Hartley
    18 – Palmer
    19 – Easter
    20 – Care
    21 – Flood
    22 – Tait

  15. I couldn’t agree more with the above comment – how has everyone overlooked wilkinson??!!

    Everyone expects too much off him, he keeps the score borad ticking over and has been there and done it against the best. He is arguably our only proven World-class player.

    Has to be in for me. I’d be tempted to go with Flood at centre with Wilko at 10.

    Good to see Lawes getting plenty of votes – why wasn’t he in the squad sooner!!

  16. Ben Foden 15
    Chris Aston 14
    manu tuilangi 13
    sam vesty 12
    mark cueto 11
    toby flood 10
    ben youngs 9
    nick easter 8
    tom wood 7
    james haskell 6
    courtney lawes 5
    tom palmer 4
    dan cole 3
    dylan hartley 2
    alex corbesiro 1

    tommo 16
    sheridan 17
    shaw 18
    lewis moody 19
    danny care 20
    wilko 21
    tindall 22

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