England names team for final test against New Zealand


Kyle Eastmond returns at inside centre as one of seven England changes to the starting line-up for Saturday’s third Test against New Zealand at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton.

What do you make of this team? Can they record a rare win on New Zealand soil?

England team:
15 Mike Brown (Harlequins, 28 caps)
14 Chris Ashton (Saracens, 38 caps)
13 Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 24 caps)
12 Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby, 3 caps)
11 Marland Yarde (London Irish, 4 caps)
10 Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby, 4 caps)
9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 37 caps)
1 Joe Marler (Harlequins, 21 caps)
2 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 56 caps)
3 David Wilson (Bath Rugby, 36 caps)
4 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 31 caps)
5 Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers, 21 caps)
6 Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 29 caps)
7 Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, captain, 27 caps)
8 Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 9 caps)

16 Rob Webber (Bath Rugby, 7 caps)
17 Matt Mullan (London Wasps, 4 caps)
18 Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons, 1 cap)
19 Joe Launchbury (London Wasps, 21 caps)
20 Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby, 22 caps)
21 Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints, 17 caps)
22 Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks, 8 caps)
23 Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints, 5 caps)

59 thoughts on “England names team for final test against New Zealand

  1. I can see the logic with the centres, and not wanting to chance a third untried pairing in as many matches, but why not carry that logic through with the locks? Not sure Parling and Lawes will compliment each other, as L&L have.

    Burrell on the bench is a bit odd given that he covers one position, I guess they feel Cipriani is adequate cover for full back, though it must be some time since he’s played there.

    1. Burrell covers both centre positions, and either centre could shift to the wing if necessary. Not sure what happens if one of our heroic flankers gets injured… I know Billy V has played a bit on the blindside, but he’d be absolutely knackered if he had to do that for any length of time.

  2. Lancaster has commented that Launchbury is pretty worn out and is struggling with the physicality so isn’t starting. Lawes needs to start i think, plus Parling has been excellent so far. But as you say, will they compliment each other? If Launchbury is worn out, if rather have Attwood or Slater on the bench.
    Regarding Burrell, i think we will see him come on at inside centre, to test his partnership with Tuilagi, and Lancaster has hinted at that also.

    1. Would have thought both Attwood and Slater had done enough to be considered over a knackered Launchbury. Loyalty can be taken too far

          1. I don’t think that Launchbury has actually played that poorly. Perfectly justifiable picking Lawes and Parling. Lawes had an awesome end to the season and Parling was one of the stand out players the past two weeks IMO.

            I’m pretty sure I’ve already written this below – but the three locks in the squad now are the best three locks going forward. No reason to drop Launchbury completely, I’m sure he will offer a really good impact from the bench. Getting him more caps (he is still only on 21 caps) before the WC is also important, as lets be honest, on top form he walks into the side.

  3. Seems strange to me that Launchbury gets rested and Brown, who has looked as equally out of sorts, starts, and doesn’t have a replacement on the bench.

    That said, for the last test of the tour it’s a good team, I hope Burrell is there so Lancaster can see him and Tuilagi together, not because they feel he is a long term bench option.

    There’s a lot of starting players with some points to prove, really hope Eastmond delivers.

  4. With this centre paring and Burns I can see England winning this game. Big comment from a Welsh man

  5. Would assume Burns covers 15, Cips 10 and Burrell Centres whilst Eastmond & Tuilagi cover wings if necessary.

    I’m glad Ashton is back, i just hope he can replicate his club form.

  6. Really like the look of it. As I’ve said on here before the announcement, I’d have gone with Twelvetrees, but I’ve been proved wrong enough times by SL – I’m sure he’s right on this one too.

    Can see the logic with the lock pairing – Launchbury has looked tired. Parling looks really fresh as he’s not played too much this season. Lawes was in incredible form at the end of the season.

    Vunipola and Hartley will add a lot in terms of physicality.

    Would like to have seen Foden on the bench, but I can only assume that SL wants to look at Burrell and Tuilagi together.

    I’ve said this the last two weeks, but I really think we will win this one!

  7. Really happy with this team. I feel the starting XV is spot on (real shame we’ve lost Care, of course), and like some of the above comments my only gripes are Burrell and Launchbury (over Attwood) on the bench. But at least we won’t end the tour and the season “not knowing”, there’s no excuses after this one.

    1. I guess the fact that Attwood played on Tuesday contributed to Launchbury being on the bench. Cipriani and Dickson played too but their inclusions were forced by the injuries to Farrell and Care. I don’t think Burrell would be on the bench if the mid-week game hadn’t happened.

    2. I can only assume that Burrell being on the bench is because he wants to give him game time with Tuilagi. Eastmond has played full back under SL, and Cipriani has played a lot of rugby there so we are well covered.

      On Launchbury over Attwood- I think SL knows that the three locks in this 23 are his best options. He is simply trying out new combinations. Whilst Launchbury has looked a bit tired, he still hasn’t actually played badly, just below his usual unbelievably high standards! I can still see him making a really strong impact off the bench for the last 20.

      1. Attwood must be the unluckiest player in English rugby. His cameo against Ireland practically won us the game single-handed.

        1. I think Launchbury’s tap tackle actually won us the Ireland game, literally ‘single handed’.

          My cheesy pun for the day

          1. D’oh!

            I’m guilty of hyperbole there, but his impact especially in the mauls was noticeable. It’s certainly one of the areas we have great depth, that’s for sure. If only the same could be said at scrum half.

            1. Yeh I agree Attwood is unlucky. It’s the same at loose head, scrum half, back row and full back too. Foden has never done anything wrong for England, is playing well for his club – and can’t even get in the squad!

              I agree Attwood is unlucky, but the selection is still right IMO.

            2. k I think we do have good depth at scrum half, and good variety within that depth. It’s just one of them.has been woefully out of form since SA 2012.

  8. Yup, really happy with the team. When my main gripe is the lack of versatility from the 23 shirt it’s obvious I’m pretty content.

    New Zealand look ominous in that they seem to be gradually getting better, so I don’t expect to win the game. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me if this was our biggest losing margin. But I still think the team is just about the best we can do, hopefully we give a good account of ourselves stay fairly close to this in the Autumn.

  9. I actually think the selection of No23 is quite clever. We have to bear in mind that – unless you are French – there are only ever two spaces on the bench to cover 6 positions.

    The selections therefore are both in case of injury, and tactical. very often we get one bench position (22) which covers just one position (Ford, Myler etc) but in this case we have a selection that also covers full back.

    This enables the cover for the wings (Brown or Tuilagi), and it also provides the opportunity to change tactically by bringing in Burrell at 12 or 13.

    I think that it is the latter, that put Burrell in ahead of Foden (or Watson, or Goode).

    Might argue that Haskell (or even Kvesic) is unlucky not to get the 20 shirt BUT, the way England play around their No8, it has to be big Ben.

  10. Have a feeling this one might be a bit more of a comfortable win for NZ, not a big beating but maybe a 10 pointer.

    Hope I’m wrong.

  11. Bit worried about our breakdown presence. Launch may not be playing his best, but he’s still playing very well, and was doing a lot of work in both attacking and defensive breakdowns. Webber was our most effective forward at clearing out and helping us get uninterrupted ball. Lawes does not provide the same breakdown ability as Launch, and Hartley needs to have a stormer to prove he should hold onto the no. 2 shirt.

    I suspect when I rewatch this one I’ll be trying to watch Hartley, Wood, Robshaw, Burns, Eastmond and Ashton.

    1. Good point DanD, especially about Webber and clearing rucks. However, I felt that Wood who often does a lot in this area, had a quiet game last week and it wouldn’t be like him to have 2 quiet games in a row

      BV is also quite good at clearing out.

      1. BV is fantastic at clearing rucks, he’s the only person I’ve seen sent S.Armitage flying backwards after getting in position. However, he doesn’t do it very often. Now if he can get in position and hit key rucks, that would be great. But generally we’re going to be on the back foot making it even harder, especially for someone like Billy V, to be effective.

        1. To be fair, Hartley is also fantastic at the breakdown, so I don’t think that we are losing too much here in comparison to Webber.

          Launchbury will be a miss at the breakdown, but I still think we should have enough presence there. Wood should be better than last week, and Lawes may play a bit more in the link man role to allow Robshaw to spend more time in rucks.

  12. I see that “ex-England centre” Joel Tomkins has returned to League – what an utter waste of 3 caps that was last Autumn!

    1. Didn’t he make one line break in 3 games? You could have put a traffic cone in midfield in his place and have had pretty much the same effect.

  13. Eastmond and Tuilagi back good thing. Burns is back also good thing.Ben youngs starting not good thing. Ben youngs needs to give Burns quick ball to unleash Eastmond & Tuilagi. If he thinks he can solve his problems with box kicking then think again. Because if it lands in Ben smiths hands then we are doomed.

    Our locks are not bad Launchbury dropped to bench not sure pretty sure he is still tired and would of got Attwood even Slater to come on.

    Our Flankers and Locks are not balanced if you ask me. We have the mobile locks and 2 flankers who play the same. Haskell should of been brought in in fact i am beginning to wonder if Haskell allowed Robshaw to have influence he had the 1st test because of Haskell.

    With Kaino at 6 we are in trouble as he is a super strong ball carrier and hard hitter and really don’t see us having a answer to silencing him.

    Ashton back is also a problem, against Savea it will not end well, hope he is not found defensively.

  14. I also forgot Burrell what the hell is he doing cover our back 5, someone like foden would have made more sense even May would have. It’s obvious to me Lancaster wants to try out Burrell & Tuilagi. Which just feels 1 dimension to me.

  15. Very pleased with the selection in general. Slight concern that neither lock is someone I would ideally pick to pack down on the tighthead side. Launchury is top class, but I don’t see he’s so far ahead of Attwood that he keeps him out when he’s sub par (by his own standards).

    Critical for me is Vunipola starting and Morgan off the bench. Vunipola gets through so much work, but Morgan injects a lot of extra pace.

    Tactically I would have switched the wings to have our more physical guy handling Savea (or at least attempting too). I do fear some Ashton turnstile arm flap “tackles”, but I can’t argue with Ashton getting another chance after an excellent season (and scoring a typical Ashton tracking try last week).

    I’m optimistic we’ll go well, e.g. I didn’t fancy our chances of getting anything out of the 3rd test against SA in 2012 but we delivered by far our best performance of the tour.

    We’ve lost 2 winnable games, but they should still take some confidence from that. We are good enough to get a win, lets hope we can deliver one.

  16. I believe we can increase our chances by playing a much tighter forward orientated game especially with the greater physicality of this pack.Slow it down stop trying to match NZ in high tempo.Play to traditional English strengths and style

  17. Find it interesting how a lot of the NZ websites cannot see why Wood is in ahead of Haskell, as they rate the laters physicality, and I have to say I agree. For me Robshaw should be Blindside, but then who do we put on the open?

    Also interesting that a lot of the NZ press see Ashton as a real threat.

    Overall probably the best lineup we could have out there this weekend, think Lawes and Launchbury is the best 2nd row pairing but agree that Launchbury has been through a hell of a lot of work this season.

    1. Ashton is a threat to defences. It isn’t coincidence that he always appears on the shoulder of a player making a break, his work rate in attack is exceptional. If you watch him during open play, he often puts himself in an offside position, but far enough away from play so that it doesn’t get picked up, then if a line break is made, he doesn’t have to worry about being obstructed when running a support line. He does that arguably better than anyone in the world.

      Granted, he a lot of weaknesses, but NZ aren’t wrong in recognising him as a threat.

    2. And the reason they have a hard-on for Haskell is simply because he played for the Highlanders for a year, and built up a good reputation for himself. I doubt they’ve watched Wood with anywhere near the same amount of scrutiny – if at all – whereas of course we see what he offers week in/week out in the Six Nations and Premiership.

      1. Although Wood did spend a season there in his younger years I believe, perhaps they aren’t aware of that.

    3. For a player with 50 caps, he does give the impression of being the “coming man” in the back row. I was never much of a fan of Haskell, but i do believe that he is playing his very best rugby at the moment – perhaps something to be said for his globe-trotting adventures.

      Of course, he could capably play at 6 or 7.

  18. I’m inclined to agree re Haskell I think he really adds something to the back row physically. Interesting SCW sees Robshaw as a world class 6 also….why can’t Steffon Armitage spring a surprise move to Cornish Pirates!!!!

    Hopefully Lawes Hartley and BV can add some dynamism to the game although Webber must feel a bit unlucky to drop out.

    Really hope Eastmond can bring Tuilagi into game, IMO he is the way forward at 12 – dont see that 36 does anything better and its time he got a run in the team to see what he can do.

    1. I’m inclined to agree with you on Eastmond. I think he is a better option when Tuilagi is playing. Faster feet, and probably better distribution than 12T.

  19. Better centre pairing. Nonu is so concerned with keeping Tuilagi quiet he neglects the test of his game.
    Burrel OK when he can bully his opposite number but he’s never going to do that in New Zealand. Nonu allowed too much space against him and Twelvetrees and that releases others to do the damage.
    Burrel Hides in defence when it gets tough.
    Better with 2 proper wingers so good choices there.
    Difficult with the forwards. I think we often forget Launchbury’s but a pup in international terms and he is probably out on his feet after a long British season. He’s a class player.

    1. Chris, I think you’re being a little harsh on Burrell.

      I don’t believe that Defence is his strongest suit, but it is not because of “hiding”. It is more to do with his technique, and decision making.

  20. With Parling out I would’ve like to have seen Lawes and Slate/Attwood partnered. Slater was awesome in the midweek game, and deserves a shot in the test team. If Launchbury is struggling that much why stick back in as a starter. Why not leave him on the bench and start one of the other two?

    Will be interesting to see Eastmond playing alongside Tuilagi again. Also hope we will see Ashton tracking him when he has the ball. He could run some great angles off Eastmond.

    1. I would love to see Slater given a shot, he was indeed awesome on Tues (and has been all season for the Tigers), however he played a full 80. I know Launchbury is tired from a long season, but think Slater will be pretty shot himself after that! Too short a turn around to chuck him in the deep end with a test debut against the all blacks. Start Launchbury (who definitely wasn’t that bad), and bring Attwood back- who was subbed on Tues- onto the bench.

      1. Good point Henry. I forgot he played the full match. Hope Luanchbury can last at least one half. He did look knackered when he came off last week.

  21. Also hoping that our win at Eden park this morning to retain the U20’s Junior World Championship will lift the team.

  22. Don P

    You know you don’t need to reply to every post, especially by not using the “reply” button so they all appear out of context at the bottom (he said half-ironically)?

  23. Geat

    Not got to every reply yet. But, in or out of context, am working on it whilst awaiting Jamie’s 3rd test blog… presumably when he recovers from shell shock.

    1. If Jamie’s anything like me he won’t be shellshocked, just deflated. We didn’t do ourselves justice in that first half as equally as NZ were awesome.

  24. Geat

    Have now expressed my thoughts on the ‘Rate the NZ Match’ blog.

    Don’t understand why teams don’t do themselves justice tho? I think that games can sometimes go through phases whereby 1 team can dominate (&/or helped by some calls or ‘things’ can going their way), but then this can be reversed for periods, as in the 2nd 1/2 today?? Beats me spmetimes.

    1. For me it came down to calmness under pressure. After a bad start we looked shaken, and with NZ in our faces we made error after error. The NZ aura looked alive and well to be honest.

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