England names 23 man squad for Ireland game

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The following 23 players have been retained by England to prepare for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations match against Ireland at Twickenham.

Forwards (13)

Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
Jack Clifford (Harlequins)
Jamie George (Saracens)
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
James Haskell (Wasps)
Paul Hill (Northampton Saints)
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)
Alex Goode (Saracens)
Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby)
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

England head coach Eddie Jones commented:

“I have been pleased with the hard work and attitude the squad have shown since Italy. Everyone wants to be on the field on Saturday so there were some tough selection calls. Elliot Daly has impressed in training and is now ready to be part of the match day 23.”

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

66 thoughts on “England names 23 man squad for Ireland game

    1. Apparently Daly has been training at 12 so he’s our cover there. Not sold on that idea but I’m just happy to see him in the 23 so all good as far as I’m concerned!

        1. Really Pablito? Messrs Roberts and Davies have not overtly troubled England’s 12s in the last 2 6n, even when up against the defensive collossus of 12t and Burrell. Daly’s defence is pretty solid tbh, lets not get into the whole size is everything trap. Burrell is big but not great defencively and even he did ok last year.

          1. 12T and Burrell both play 12. Has Daly even ever played there for his club?

            The defensive requirements are utterly different. Daly’s defense at 13 is reasonable for club level. International defence at 12 is an totally different matter.

            Roberts is possibly in the form of his life. Just because he got little change out of the English defence in the last couple of games does not mean the same will happen again

            Having said that, I am happier with Daly as an option than a 6 2 split with Goode on the bench…

            1. I’m talking about a vastly different level here, but in my personal experience I’ve usually found defending at 12 easier than 13.

              1. Just to clarify – Daly will not be starting at 12, he is just our injury cover there. EJ is not suggesting he sees him as a long-term 12. Unless forced to come on due to injury to Ford or Farrell (starting as per before at 10/12), Daly will come on at 13 or wing. This is definitely preferable to last time where when Farrell came off Goode went to 15, Brown to the wing, Nowell to 13 and JJ to 12. That was a bit of a mess… And whatever you think of Daly at 12, must be a better option than that reorganisation and having JJ at 12!

                You cannot cover ever position perfectly with 3 backs on the bench, someone will end up playing out of position!

              2. 12 requires better communication with 10 and 13 to co-ordinate the defence but you get to defend a narrower channel so can get away with minor positional and technique failings

                13 has to defend a large channel so requires good positioning and technique and potentially a bit of speed too. If communication from 12 is poor sometimes it is the 13 who look like a mug even thou the 12 was actually to blame

            2. “Roberts is possibly in the form of his life”

              With all due respect, he has played a dysfunctional Irish side and Scotland at home, with a largely dominant pack and front foot ball. If England deny Wales that platform, as they are capable of doing and have done in the last 3 matches, we will keep Doc Roberts quiet.

          1. Good point Ray whats everyone talking about roberts for, we don’t play him for another 2 weeks. Lets get past Ireland first before we start looking ahead to Wales

            1. Loving the sarcasm Ray – got anything constructive to say or do you just comment to try and feel clever?

              For Roberts read Henshaw. Roberts defence vs Henshaw and anyone else coming his way was immense last round. He made 20 tackles which demonstrates how much Ireland were attacking down his channel, mostly using Henshaw and Stander

              Its taking a big gamble, especially considering Farrell’s barely legal tackling – let alone the possibility of injuries. One unsuprisngly high tackle from Farell and for 10 minutes we’ll be lining up Ford, Daly, Joseph. Ireland will think all their Christmases have come at once. God forbid Farrell gets injured and has to go off

              1. Feels a bit Lancaster in your worries there Pablito.

                Personally, and I’m sure Jones is thinking the same – good luck to a fairly one dimensional Roberts stopping a fleet footed Daly getting over the gain line. Yes attacking down the 12 channel is different, but Daly is unbelievable will be worrying defenses a hell of a lot more than England will worry about Roberts running straight at us. Effective though it is, at least we know what is coming.

                1. Really? Think a lot of what makes Daly a fantastic 13 would be stymied at 12. He won’t be able use his pace on the outside arc – which is where a lot of his breaks are made and he’ll have defences in his face much more quickly

                  This smacks to me of shoe-horning him in for the sake of it. I’d be happy with him as a 13 (and 15 or wing cover in a bind) but as 12 cover on his debut against an Ireland team who have to win to salvage something from their tournament?

                  You are a Wasps fan – has he ever played 12 at Wasps?

                  I appreciate that this is a ‘what if’ scenario, but planning successfully for ‘what if’ scenarios is what makes teams great – especially when they are scenarios that are quite easily envisaged,

                  I love the fact that Daly is finally in the mix but would much prefer to see Burrell on the bench for this one as cover for both 12 and 13.

                  In fact a 5-3 split on the bench, with Care/Youngs, Burrell and Daly would be fine by me. Burrell covering centre and Daly covering wing/fullback

                2. Excellent point Jacob. It’s about time we stopped (overly) worrying about the opposition and get them worrying about us! For all of Roberts renowned talents, he can be a tad predictable and shackled. If Sam Burgess can do it after 5 minutes playing the sport, I have little fear if Daly is forced into such a role.

              2. No Daly hasn’t played 12 for Wasps before, not properly. I vaguely remember him playing there during a sin bin last season but that is about it.

                I would much prefer a proper 12 to Daly, but after Goode’s pretty decent cameo he wasn’t going to be dropped. Daly will only be used there in case of injury, and if we is with a bit of luck it’ll be later in the game!

                I don’t agree that Daly’s attack will be nullified at 12. Quick feet are useful anywhere, and he has a really good passing game as well as a strong kicking game that we all know about.

                For once we’ve seen a player picked for what he can do, not what he can not so I’m very happy about that.

  1. Robshaw is one of the guys who starts or not in the 23 at all (i.e. largely ‘one paced’ but can play at that pace all day). I don’t think he’s been at his best though and I would have had him drop out with Itoje starting to give us more pace, more physicality at the breakdown and another lineout option.

    Very pleased to see Daly included though.

  2. Agree. I think Robshaw is under rated by many, but as you say either he starts or he’s not in

    Personally, I’d start him and Haskell to do what they did against Italy and take the initial brunt of the attack – especially as Ireland are without Mahoney and Brien – and bring on Clifford and Itoje to up the pace after 50 mins

    The lineout is a moot point unless someone tells Kruis to stop calling it to himself every time

    1. Is Daly actually going to get a game though? Injuries aside, I can’t see EJ taking off either OF or JJ given his previous comments. I’m guessing that Alex Goode is unlikely to come on (with any more than 10 minutes) unless one of the back 3 goes off. Wouldn’t it be better to have an impact player (Cips?, Wade?) who could actually turn a game instead? Or how about someone who can
      play 12? Manu clearly still isn’t fully fit and for all of EJ’s comments about his having the potential to be a world class 12, he’s not someone we should be pinning all our hopes on. If Slade (and OF and Ford) are 10s and Daly and JJ (and quite possibly Manu) are 13s then it looks like Devoto has a lot riding on his shoulders once fit. Are 12T and Burrell really that far off the pace just now?

      1. Direct quote from Eddie Jones re Manu Tuilagi’s best position:
        “He’s not a 13 mate, he’s a 12”.
        He was talking very encouragingly about Burrell earlier in the week too.
        So England are actually looking OK in the mid-to-long term:
        10 – Farrell, Ford, Slade when fit
        12 – Devoto, Tuilagi when fit, Burrell
        13 – Joseph, Daly, Nowell in an emergency

        1. Jones sees Slade as a 12 first 10 second at which point Devoto drops out of the squad entirely
          10 – Faz, Ford, Slade/Goode (in an emergecy)
          12 – Tuilagi, Slade, Faz
          13 – Joseph, Daly, Slade/Nowell/Tuilagi (in an emergency)

      2. Daly also offers left wing cover (EJ said he has tried him in 13, 11 and 15, and now recently 12). So if we have a wing injury he will come on: left wing injury, Daly swaps on. Right wing injury JJ moves out and Daly plays 13.

        This is much preferable to me than Goode on at 15 and Brown moving to wing – always rated Brown but he is not a winger. I think Goode is strictly 15 cover, maybe third choice 10 in case of injury disaster.

        And watching Daly this season, he could definitely be an impact player. Incredble outside break and pace to burn. More of an attacking threat than Wade has been this season (although I will qualify that as Wade has been out with a long-term injury). Plus 50 meter penalties. That could have quite an impact on a game in the late stages..

    2. Interestingly I’d go the other way about it, given Ireland’s injury problems. Stick Clifford or Itoje on the b/side from the off then bring either Haskell or Robshaw on for the last fifteen to shore things up.

      I’m sure someone Borthwick shaped will have had a word in George’s ear about the calls for the line out. It’s going to be Kruis/ Launchers to start which worked well against the Scots and brought stability v the Italians. Just noticed that Itoje is the only other obvious candidate for the second row should injury strike.Mmmmmm…………. Eddie really does like to keep things to a minimum.

      1. That rather assumes that there will be something to shore up. If we’re chasing the game at 50 / 60 mins, you’d rather have the options of Clifford and Itoje off the bench than Robshaw and Haskell

        Also I’d have thought someone would have had a word in Kruis’ shell-like after Scotland, even if he was largely successful in that game. But either they didn’t or he just ignored them. Either is slightly concerning

      2. You usually only have one second rower on the bench and Itoje’s main position is lock – not sure why this is an issue?

  3. So Eddie starting to break loose. Lawes dropped for Itoje, Daly on the bench. I imagine it will be the same starting line up, bar Launchbury for Lawes, grind down the Irish fwds as we did Italy and stretch them in the last qtr. Would rather have Daly at 12 if either Farrell or Ford gets crocked.

  4. Starting to get a little more interesting. Itoje to come on at lock in the last 30 minutes. Daly comes on for the last 20 for JJ and uses his pace, and kick any long range penalties. Jones really is using his squad wisely for each game. Very refreshing!!

  5. Tuilagi played well at the weekend and by all accounts might get a run-out against Roberts the week after the Ireland game (no more than a half-hour as match fitness still an obvious doubt) otherwise the team is starting to come together.

  6. Slightly concerned about Daly having to make his debut at 12, but I’m glad he is in.

    Looks as though Jones is slowly making some really positive changes. Would expect the same starting team as vs Italy other than Marler and Launchbury coming in.

    Personally wouldn’t have minded Itoje starting at 6, but it makes no sense to have Robshaw as a bench option.

    1. Jacob, this doesn’t mean he’s definitely coming on at 12. Neither Ford or Farrell have been subbed in the last two games. I would think if anything Daly will replace JJ, or possibly come on at 15? I think he’s just been training at 12 so if Farrell gets crocked we have some cover there.

      1. Oh I don’t think that he will. But if Ford or Farrell were to get injured, I’d feel for Daly having to come on and play there on his debut – that’s all I meant.

        1. Yeah fair point Jacob, that wouldn’t be ideal. But I’m sure he’ll take confidence in the fact that Eddie believes in his ability enough to cover.

          1. Yeh I’ve long said he is ideal for the 23 shirt for England. That being said, I was more thinking that he would cover 13, wing and 15, not quite 12.

            Hopefully he gets the chance to come on at 13 and shows that he can do.

            1. Its only short term while we have injuries at 12. Once Manu or Slade are back Farrell will be our 12 cover and Daly makes as much sense to me as anyone else in the squad. The only alternative is to put Burrell and Daly on the bench and I can understand why EJ is reticent to do that

              1. To be honest I would rather see Slade in the 12 shirt than Manu. I know what Manu can do, but I think Slade is a far better player, just in a very different way. I also think Slade is less likely to do anything silly and give away needless penalties.
                Manu is a bit like Farrell, in that he has moments of idiocy and will do something stupid. Only difference is he’s about three stone heavier, and when he does it, it looks much worse.

                1. To be honest I’ve always thought Manu’s defensive ability is more suited to 12. He can obviously hit really hard, but his positioning is sometimes caught which can lead to him ending up a bit high when he is caught out and ends up overstretching. I can’t see that being an issue in the 12 channel quite as much.

                  Farrell has a different problem for me, he seems to favour a RL style hit the ball technique which can often lead to high tackles.

                  On Slade or Manu – good problem to have. Depending on who we are playing we have the option to playing with either a second distributer or Manu. Alternatively, we could play Manu at 12 and Slade at 13. Or even, depending on if Farrell maintains his impressive form from this season, we could end up seeing Slade at 10 with Manu/Daly outside him.

                  None of these people are Brad Barritt so I’m happy!

                2. I agree Manu brings a gainline breaking ability which is world class but it comes at a cost. Defensively he has a habit of rushing out of the line leaving other exposed and his distribution is only mildly better than Roberts which means the ball often dies with him and relies on quick recycling to generate front foot ball on the second phase. Slade is far more of a complete package and can kick/pass/run to unlock defences which makes the backline less predictable and harder to defend

                3. I love the idea of Slade, Tuilagi, Daly at 10, 12 and 13

                  A nice blend of skill, subtlety, pace and power with few weaknesses

                  I am still hopeful that Tuilagi’s career arc can mimic that of Nonu and that he can add a passing / off-loading element to his game.

                  Would also be happy with Slade at 13 in a kind of Conrad Smith role

  7. I take it Brookes is not fully fit yet then as I was expecting to see him in the squad. Far better player than Cole or Hill

  8. I think people are losing their minds a bit about playing players out of their usual position, mostly because a succession of English managers have done this badly. New Zealand think nothing of playing Bin Smuth at full back, centre or wing. Beale plays centre, full back or fly half for Australia. Greenwood back in the day interchanged seamlessly between 12 and 13 for England. The point is that talented players, who play heads up rugby can play a variety of different roles. Henry Slade is a great example. Never played 13 until a couple of seasons ago, took to it like a duck to water. Has never played 12 regularly, but I’d have no problem him playing there for England – he has the skills and the brains to adapt.

    Where it doesn’t work is when players with the wrong skill set and shall we say limited nous, are asked to play out of positon Tom Wood at 8. Brad Barritt at 13. Mike Brown on the wing. Bergamasco at scrum half! Just because we have had to endure some truly bone headed selection mistakes, should not mean we have to become too rigid. As noted above, Daly is emergency cover for 12 and will likely not make his debut there, but Jones appears to be selecting players who he thinks can make their own decisions and play heads up, and should the worst happen, I’m sure Daly would do a great job.

    1. Completely agree with this. Pocock seemed pretty comfortable with the 8 shirt on his back during the WC too. Not to mention SBW trotting out on the wing regularly in 2011.

      Talented players can adapt, and there is nothing I’ve even seen of Daly to suggest his skill set means he’ll be a disaster at 12.

      1. See I agree with this. I’d have no issue with Slade for example playing 10, 12 or 13. He has regularly played both 13 and 10 for his club during his career. Ditto Itoje at blindside or lock

        Where we differ is on Daly. Personally I view him at 12, even if it is just cover, as equivalent to Brown on the wing or Wood at 8

        Beale, Smith and the like have constantly interchanged in those positions throughout their career – have played whole games in those different positions, both at club and at international level. They have demonstrated time and again from their inception of their careers that they are capable of doing so and are skilled in each of those positions.

        Daly has not played at 12 for Wasps. He has not demonstrated that he is capable of switching positions, other than to 15 where he is fine but not great.

        I like to think he will be fine at 12 and I think EJ knows what he’s doing, but I don’t really see it myself and I can envisage it being a disaster

        I will be crossing my fingers that there are no injuries / cards to Ford or Farrell and that we get to see Daly do his thing at 13

        PS – Pocock may have had 8 on his shirt but he played like an openside. SBW is a freak

          1. Makes more sense positionally, but Jones has picked based on the fact that he thinks Goode and Daly are the best two backs he can have on the bench. Seems like a good way of selecting to me.

            1. Burrell can cover 12 and 13 and we already have 2 10s and 2 15s on the pitch already. I would have thought the the priority for the 3rd backline slot should be an impact player. To that extent, if all are fit, I do wonder about a backline of Farrell/Ford at 10, Slade at 12 and JJ at 13 with Manu covering 12 and 13 and then coming on for impact at either 12 or 13. Can’t be many centres who would relish knowing that they’d have to face a fresh Tuilagi after 55 minutes!

        1. I do take your point (and will rely on your knowledge that the likes of Smith and Beale regularly played different positions for their clubs – was not my recollection) – but the likes of Brown and wood (and Burrell for that matter) are fairly one dimensional players – Daly is not. He is a heads up intelligent player and I would say being able to switch between FB and centre is more of a positional stretch than outside to inside centre and according to the papers he’s played at 10 and on both wings in the past. This suggests to me that he has the capability.

          Burrell would be a backward step. He is a typically yeoman type player so beloved by Lancaster. I am encouraged that Jones is seeking to pick players who can think for themselves and not pre-programmed robots unable to adjust when the game plan doesn’t work. I suspect that once free of the restraints of the EPS, the likes of Brown, Robshaw and even the Hask may be on the way out.

          1. Burrell is only under consideration as we are missing Tuilagi and Slade. I suspect once those two are back and assuming they regain form, that Burrell will drop out of the equation altogether.

            But given they are not available and the other option would be someone young like Hill, then Burrell is a reasonable back up. Can play 12 or 13 and is in pretty good form for Northampton

            I suspect you under-estimate Brown and Robshaw. Both are key elements of a club team that plays a completely different type of game – all about heads-up, running, off-loading rugby – to England under recent coaches. Suggests both are more than capable of adapting to more than one game plan.

            However, Robshaw I think will drop out eventually as there are better options, eg. Ewers, for his position.

            Brown should be gradually replaced with someone younger but there don’t seem to be many putting their hands up – both Pennell and Goode aren’t much younger than him (I think?). Perhaps Mike Haley?

            1. Perhaps both Robshaw and Brown are underrated but neither has shone recently. There’s no doubt that both do their jobs on the pitch adequately but neither really seems to have star quality (Brown did but looks off the boil just now). Much as I like Robshaw he lacks the ball carrying ability of a Jerome Kaino blind side and isn’t effective enough at the breakdown or lineout. I suspect that Clifford might replace him fairly soon. And Haskell is no more a 7 than Robshaw is.

              Brown is undoubtedly good under the high ball and can defend well but doesn’t seem to beat that many defenders like a Folau/Smith/Dagg. At some point I guess Watson might move to FB as Bath seem to like him there which might make room for a fully fit May or even Wade. For now, Goode seems to pose more of an attacking threat than Brown and may deserve a start. Somehow EJ needs to get the “experienced” caps to up their game and possibly even start enjoying playing in an England shirt?

              1. I think Watson will be the FB for England within the next year or two, I’m a massive fan of his. I think he is one of the players that could develop to be world class.A back three of him, Nowell and May has a great blend and no real obvious weaknesses.

                I’ve never been a big Brown fan. He is a good defensively and very good under the high ball, but so limited in attack. I’d genuinely consider playing Goode there in the short term if Jones doesn’t think Watson is quite ready.

              2. Granted Brown hasn’t quite seemed himself this 6 Nations and since his concussion. But given I am bored I thought I’d look at Brown vs Folau’s stats from the RWC group stages (not inc. Uruguay as neither started).

                Brown defenders beaten – 16
                Folau defenders beaten – 13

                Seems pretty decent to me – esp when you throw in his defence

                Had completely forgotten about Watson, thinking of him as just a winger. I don’t think his defense is near ready for playing fullback internationally. I hope it will be soon though as he could definitely be the future.

                Likewise there is no way I would be starting Goode against Ireland. I imagine it will be high ball after high ball in that game and I wouldn’t trust Goode to deal with it as well as Brown is likely to

                1. My problem with Brown is not a lack of beating defenders, he generally breaks tackles well, but so often breaks die with him as he rarely makes the pass, the one glorious exception to that (that I can recall) is the sumptuous try for Care he was a part of (along with robshaw) the last time Ireland came to Twickers.

                2. Also RE: defence as a full back, I reckon if your defensive system is doing its job then your FB is rarely put into a position where their defence should matter too much – if your 15 is having to make tonnes of one-on-one tackles then you’re defending badly as a team! Watson’s also, like Folau, got the athleticism both on the floor and in the air to get out of trouble even if he isn’t perfect positionally.

              3. Brown’s problem isn’t that he doesn’t beat defenders, it’s that he regularly dies with the ball once he does. If he could pass like he could break tackles he’d be a hell of a player.

                1. I thought this aspect of his game had improved a lot 2014/15, but it seems back to the old ways …..

                  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/international/england/11986186/Mike-Brown-I-have-lost-all-trust-in-my-England-team-mates-after-Rugby-World-Cup-leaks.html

                  Maybe this explains it ;)

                  Still doesn’t trust them enough to pass!

                  One of the reasons I’ve been such a Foden fan is the way he runs at such pace with the ball in 2 hands. He can launch a team counter attack, not a one man counter attack. Such a shame injuries never really allowed him to cement his place.

  9. Launchbury out – his hamstring hasn’t pulled through after all. Lawes back in. A possible start for Maro then…

      1. Thought Lawes looked really good coming off the bench v Scotland, and he should be motivated to try and put in a blinder as it looks like he’s obviously slipping down the pecking order and it’s only through luck he’s playing. He’s got nothing to lose, so he should go hard at the very least.

      2. It is a big loss, though I wouldn’t say he’s been right at the top of his game either.

        Is there any news on the severity?

  10. So Irish midfield looks to be McCloskey and Henshaw. I have a feeling this will prove to be Ireland’s best combo

  11. All the players who needed to go have gone. EJ has made all the right omissions so far. Parling, Wood who was sub-standard for England for about the past two years under SL, Morgan (never fit), and now Lawes (another one who’s been regularly up and down in performance). The only two left in my opinion who are in the debatable ‘to go’ category are Robshaw and Haskell in that order of precedence as the latter is showing more wiling/ability to adapt to EL’s turnover/jackal/ fast ball requirements.
    Ford is the future so certainly wouldn’t put him in my ‘to go’ category.
    Does anyone agree with this and if not who would they have in their player ‘out box’?

    1. I think Brown and Goode you could also argue in the next couple of years. Brown doesn’t seem to be the player he was pre concussion.
      Goode always flatters to deceive at the highest level. Although given his performance against Italy. I will reserve judgement for now as he looked a lot better

  12. Agreed on those choices Callum J although I hope Brown does return to pre-concussion form. The man himself I have heard argue that he is more tightly marked now which sounds like an excuse to me for a dip in form!

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