England squad for Autumn Internationals

There are obviously weeks until the actual squad will be announced, but already people are starting to look forward to England’s next game against Australia, so we thought we would speculate on which players are likely to feature.

Ben Foden

Foden to win his second cap for England?

So here is my squad for the first of the Autumn Internationals, and it’s a team to beat Australia – I may be inclined to make one or two changes to the starting XV to take on Argentina, but as everyone in management knows, you pick a side to win your next match!

Forwards
1. Andrew Sheridan
2. Dylan Hartley
3. Phil Vickery
4. Steve Borthwick
5. Simon Shaw
6. Tom Croft
7. Tom Rees
8. Nick Easter

Backs
9. Paul Hodgson
10. Jonny Wilkinson
11. Matt Banahan
12. Shane Geraghty
13. Mike Tindall
14. Ugo Monye
15. Ben Foden

Bench
16. Tim Payne
17. Julian White
18. Lee Mears
19. Jordan Crane
20. Joe Worsley
21. Joe Simpson
22. Danny Cipriani
23. James Simpson-Daniel

I actually get a degree of satisfaction from looking at this list. There’s a blend of youth and experience, power and guile, and the shape of the team could suit England’s style of play – keep it tight when required, with the ability to strike if the game opens up.

Dylan Hartley is a shoo-in for me at hooker having performed well for Northampton in the first three rounds, and is surely a mainstay of the future England team. The rest of the pack largely picks itself, and I’m sticking with Easter at number 8 in the belief that he will lift Harlequins from the foot of the table in the next few weeks.

I’ve picked Paul Hodgson at scrum-half, on the basis that it’s too early for Joe Simpson, and the fact that Danny Care and Harry Ellis have had several opportunities without grasping the shirt with both hands. Hodgson has been providing excellent service for the Irish back line, and seems to be the sort of irritating player that the forwards will respond to.

The Geraghty-Tindall and Monye-Banahan combinations both have an element of brains-brawn, and I think the giant Bath winger could be exactly what England need. He’s not the quickest player around, but until Monye, Ojo and Armitage arrived, we haven’t had hugely pacey wingers for England anyway.

I’ve opted for Ben Foden at full-back, although I’d be tempted to bring in a player like Olly Morgan to face the Argies, depending on how Foden performs against Australia. It’s a shame that Delon Armitage will be unavailable, since he would have been the last name on a fine team sheet, but Foden could inject some attacking verve into the backline.

The bench is slightly controversial, where I’ve picked Jordan Crane as cover for second row and back row, and Joe Worsley also gets the nod. I’d be inclined to swap Worsley for a bench option that would have more impact, so any suggestions are welcome.

I’d like to see Joe Simpson coming off the bench for his debut once we’ve built an unassailable lead (!), and I’ve selected Danny Cipriani and James Simpson-Daniel. Cipriani can be drafted in as full-back cover and has impressed in the Wasps shirt so far, whilst Simpson-Daniel could be a great impact substitute and should be in the England setup if he stays fit.

There’s not too much to argue with in this selection, so I don’t expect many comments…

35 thoughts on “England squad for Autumn Internationals

  1. Not a bad team. However, I do have a few points to make:

    1. Will Johnno actually include Cipriaini? He obviously ain’t a huge fan.
    2. Will Johnno pick players not in the either the EPS or Saxons? I.e. James Simpson Daniel.
    3. Will Geraghty cope under the pressure? Wouldn’t exactly say he’s the most consistent player at the best of times.
    4. If Wilko is to play again, we need a big tackler in 12, to ease the pressure of Wilko having to put it the tackles and help avoid injuries – and that is not Geraghty.
    5. Why have you started the article of with “here is my squad for the first of the Autumn Internationals”? Surely we want to build consistency and not chop and change the team for every game? I know we have to anyway (with Flutey and Armitage injured), but why not pick a team to play the all the autumn internationals?

    With injuries now probably ruling out Jordan Turner-Hall and David Wilson along with Flutey and Armitage, having not seen Hipkiss yet this season, and trying to place youth and talent with age and experience, i have made a few changes to your team

    Forwards
    1. Andrew Sheridan
    2. Dylan Hartley
    3. Phil Vickery
    4. Steve Borthwick
    5. Simon Shaw
    6. Tom Croft
    7. Tom Rees (C) or at least should be
    8. Jordan Crane

    Backs
    9. Paul Hodgson
    10. Jonny Wilkinson
    11. Matt Banahan
    12. Mike Tindall
    13. James Simpson-Daniel
    14. Ugo Monye
    15. Olly Morgan

    Bench
    16. Tim Payne
    17. Julian White
    18. Lee Mears
    19. Nick Kennedy
    20. Steffon Armitage
    21. Joe Simpson
    22. Danny Cipriani
    23. Matthew Tait

  2. If I had to pick a team for the whole series, I’d probably go with Morgan, and if we were playing Argentina first, I’d start with Morgan. However, I’d like to see Foden given a chance, and I think the Australia game would suit him better, and as I say, you pick a team to win the next match, not a team that will necessarily play the next 3 games.

    Good shout on Steffon Armitage, I think I’d put him in over Worsley. Crane was lucky to make the bench in my side, so wouldn’t have him starting. I see Easter has dropped out of your squad altogether…

    Interesting that you have JSD straight in at 13…nice idea, but I was being somewhat optimistic in putting him in the squad at all, but starting him at centre seems a bit too risky.

    I’d rather have an attacking 12 alongside Wilko, and Geraghty’s defence is probably sufficient. If you focus on protecting Jonny, you could end up with Noon and Tindall before you know it!

  3. My first option after Flutey would have been Turner-Hall, but with him now out, Wilko needing protection, and everyone desperate to see JSD in the team, thought Tindall and JSD would be a fairly good combo. Have to say though, I am doubtful as to whether Johnno will even include JSD in the team. If so, bring Tait into 13 and find replacement on the bench. What about Waldouck? As for Noon – I’m a huge fan of his defence, but unfortunately the bloke has no attack mode.

    Personally think Easter is lucky to be in the team anyway, and with a lack of good (let alone outstanding) no. 8’s, Crane would be my choice

    As for picking a team to win the next match – surely we want to be picking a team that would win every match, regardless of who we are playing? I.e 2002/2003

  4. Sadly, I don’t think Johnno will pick JSD either, but if Gloucester up their game and he shines, you never know.

    Agree with you about picking a team that could win every match – I’d love to…

  5. It seems pretty obvious that the main problem positions are the centres, with a lack of options at 8 too.

    I’ve never thought Geraghty consistent or good enough for an England shirt, but he’s started this season well (playing at 10 though) and taken the game to the opposition, running fast and hard at the defence and creating space and momentum for those outside him. Therefore, as form dictates, he deserves a shot. Tindall is the most consistent England centre since ’03 and should definitely be there, after a strong season last year.

    I don’t have a particular presence at 8, so happy with either choice, and hope that JSD is put on the bench to cover centre / wing. Cipriani won’t get near the squad though – he needs a run of sparkling form to get back into contention.

    Given the chat last year about an unworkable borthwick / shaw combination, is MJ going to really pair them together? Let’s hope that Croft cements the 6 shirt for many years to come given his outstanding Lions tour – just hope that Worsley isn’t favoured to bolster the defence.

    Hodgson is again a form pick, though I think Care is a better player and long-term prospect. Simpson has had a great start to the season, but let’s not chuck him in at the deep end just yet.

    Finally, on the Wilko issue, if you’re picked to start an international test, you can’t be cotton-wooled, so I don’t think you pick a ‘strong-tackling’ 12 for the sake of protecting Jonny. If he’s fit, he’s fit, and he has to be trusted to stay that way. Anything else just means you’re compensating out of fear of something rather than actually trying to forge the best team.

  6. Justin, agree with your point on Wilko. You can’t pick a side based on the fact that a player is physically fragile. Either he’s up to it or he’s not, yo can’t compromise the rest of the team. I’m sure he’s up to it.

    Re Shaw and Borthwick, Shaw is the best lock in the country so the other one should be picked accordingly. If Borthwick can’t play with him, he shouldn’t play, captain or not. I’d like to see Kennedy in there but he appears to have slipped down the pecking order for some reason (has anyone ever honestly ever even noticed Louis Deacon in a game of rugby?)

    I’d like to see Foden given a crack but doubt they’ll start with him. If he does play it would be good to have someone solid like Cueto alongside him and with Monye on the other wing that would make a very balanced back 3.

    Happy with Geraghty and Tindall in the centres and would like to see a role for JSD. Have rather given up on Tait. He’s won quite a few caps now and I can only remember one game in which he even vaguely stood out (although it was the World Cup Final). He just seems to lack that edge and is struggling to get a start for Sale now. Would choose Ellis at 9. If it hadn’t been for his injury think he’d have nailed the 9 shirt long ago and he was getting back to his best last season and in SA.

    Re captaincy, Rees is another player who has never quite looked top notch against the best opposition. I think he is by no means guaranteed a start. There aren’t many alternatives unless you give it back to Vickery though. Tindall?

  7. you’re right Banahan is slow, too slow, and what’s that about England never had pacy wingers before Ojo and Sackey? re: Jason Robinson, Luger, the Underwoods, et al! Geraghty is a 10 not a 12. Cirpriani offers similar running lines and kicking ability as Armitage at 15. Clarke is better than Tindall.

    15/ Cipriani
    14/ Varndell
    13/ Clarke
    12/ Wilkinson
    11/ Monye
    10/ Geraghty
    9/ Ellis
    8/ Easter
    7/ Worsley
    6/ Croft
    5/ Borthwick
    4/ Shaw
    3/ Vickery
    2/ Hartley
    1/ Sheridan

  8. I can’t see Varndell getting near the team at the moment. Yes he’s scored 5 tries in three games, but most have been walked in from 5 metres. Defensively, he is a disaster waiting to happen, and I wouldn’t put a fiver on him catching a high ball.

    Interesting call about Clarke, he has been playing well, so I wonder if he’ll get noticed.

    I nearly put Cipriani in at 15, but selected him on the bench because he is so far from the first XV that a place in the team looks unlikely.

  9. Ward, that’s about the paciest, most attacking backline I’ve ever laid eyes on!! However, it’s also one of the most lightweight. As James says, Varndell has the gas once given open space, but he’s not up to International standard in current form. Cipriani hasn’t been playing well enough to warrant a starting spot yet, and hasn’t played at 15 for a while either.

    Two things about the Geraghty / Wilko 10/12 combination – i) I’ve never thought of Wilko as a 12. What does he offer? He has decent hands, but not amazing (and is used to more time on the ball standing at 10). He has solid defence, but isn’t going to bosh it up nor find the gaps. ii) You pick your first-choice 10 at 10. Full stop. Therefore, there’s no way Geraghty warrants the starting spot ahead of him.

    I like Clarke as a player, and he’s had a good start to the season coming back from injury. However, I think he needs more time to prove himself and get some solid gametime behind him.

    As for the pack – well it balances the team being a very heavy set of lumps!

  10. Not to much to speak about, I would like to see some coninuety on team selection. The only big changes are due to injury.

    Geraghty deserves his place at 12 as there is very little to choose from and he is the form player. Wilkinson is a solid player who will remain calm so we can afford a more attcking creative 12. Tindall will play 13, again there is no one else and experience does count in what is a young team. I would like to see hipkiss in the squad as he is the natural replacment for tindall, he need to get a couple of games in though.

    wing is strong, we have three or 4 good players and that is the way it should be, right now I would stick with Monye and Cueto, both are playing well and with a change at fullback it is good with the same wings as last year.

    Flankers are strong, Armitage, Croft, Robshaw, Rees and Worsley offers options.

    Foden should get a few starts so he can settle in, he can offer the imagination which England lack sometimes. He also has better form than Morgon who is playing on a dejected cherry and whites team.

    England’s main problems are 8,9,10, I like Easter but modern 8’s have more pace, craine is much of the same Easter should play but Ward-Smith should be brought back into the squad to develop him.

    9 is open I would go with care, he has the potential and with Easter and Wilko having loads of experience around him it should help.

    1 – Sheridan
    2 – Hartley
    3 – Vickery
    4 – Borthwick
    5 – Shaw
    6 – Croft
    7 – Rees
    8 – Easter
    9 – Care
    10 -Wilkinson
    11 – Monye
    12 – Geraghty
    13 – Tindall
    14 – Cueto
    15 – Foden

  11. Only issues I would have with your selected team would be 4 and 13.

    If your picking your own team, would you REALLY have Borthwick as one of your starting locks? Shaw offers something, so why not have a decent lock partner him, someone like say Kennedy who offers something around the park and in the lineout? Or either of Harlequins or Baths locks.

    Same goes for Tindall. Stick someone like Tait, or JSD in there, someone who has the pace and footwork to exploit any gaps and half gaps playmakers inside him can create. Tindall is a lump with poor hands, no pace and his defensive work is now shoddy at best.

  12. Don’t particularly like the idea of Shaw being in there. If I was coach, I wouldn’t be picking the team to win the next game, I’d be focused on getting the likely RWC team the right top-flight experience. I get that it can be useful to blend old with new so that the newbies can learn from the experienced players, but that hardly applies to this 2nd row pairing. Shawsy’s not going to be there in 2011, so what’s the logic in excluding someone like Kennedy? I guess Johnno’s personal motivations are not aligned with our best long-term interests right now.

    I also would pick Cueto ahead of the big guy. In fact, can we persuade Banahan to move back into the second row (natural replacement for Shaw? ;-)).

    Glad to see that this group is fully behind Hartley at 2. I think many of us were there last year, but he’s really proved his point in the first three games. The rest of the front row looks weak (albeit the best we have..but who will be tighthead in 2011?).

    Back line looks decent, if a little uninspiring at 12/13. Key for me will be to see them getting better organized now. Smith’s been in place long enough to have things working properly (err….like they still do at Irish without him….makes you wonder). Last year they were predictable and apparently without a clear gameplan.

  13. Kind of get the impression people aren’t too keen on the idea of Wilko returning to the team? Since his move to Toulon, he has looked very good, and has avoided injury so far, due to the back 3 + inside centre taking the big hits. I think most teams now try to “protect” their 10 as much as possible, but thats not saying he isn’t up to the task.

    Someone that hasn’t been mentioned is Flood. Is he still injured? Not a fan, but Johnno is.

    Do like the idea of having a 10/12 option playing at 12i.e. Geraghty, but personally I’m not convinced he is the right option.

    Don’t usually disagree with you uncle matt, but think you’re being a little hard on shaw. He is our best 2nd row, and although very very doubtful, he may make it to 2011! Fingers crossed lol. However do agree that Kennedy should be starting, but there’s no way Johnno will drop Borthwick.

    Like the idea of Banahan for 2 reasons – cross field kicks (no one beats him in the air), and for crash balls 10/15 mtrs out (again, no one stops him). Whats happened to Strettle, as he was showing really promise a few seasons ago.

    As for Tait, I think he’s been unlucky with international games due to playing one game then being dropped, then playing another game months and months later, then dropped again etc etc. I think with real game time and experience, he could be great, but hasn’t so far been given a chance to nail down the shirt.

    However, lets face it, if it wasn’t for injuries to Flutey and Armitage, we probably wouldn’t be so undecided on who should be in the team, would we?

  14. There is no doubt that Cipriani has the skills to unpick the Oz defence and needs to be included in the squad let alone the team. His defence has improved no end and his game management is nearing the level required at international level. If England are looking to build a team capable of competing for the 2011 World Cup, then its essential that the core of that team starts playing together now in order to build the mentality in the squad that it is our destiny to win the trophy rather than enter the competition with high hopes by no underlying belief.

  15. There seems to be an underlying consensus that the focus needs to be on developing a squad for RWC ’11, and blooding players now to give them experience and time to grow into as solid a team as ’03. But that means picking players now who aren’t necessarily on form or the best in their position.

    Do you leave out Shaw, having just had the best performances of his life? Should Borthwick still be in there? Does Cipriani get slotted in at 10 rather than Wilko, who by all accounts is returning to great form across the channel?

    The question is what Johnson’s focus is – does he go for results now to build the winning mentality or does he accept that there will be defeats in the short term? Also, a few more poor performances and his job starts to come under pressure from those above him…..

    As an aside, is anyone else hugely worried by the lack of performance of the kiwis (last tri-nations game aside)?! For once they are ominously not peaking between world cups, which is slightly unsettling.

  16. I think it is pretty clear that Johnno is only interested in the next match. With respect to that, he does give players time to find their feet so he is not too short term in that aspect. Look at Flutey. No-one would have been too bothered about him after the Autumn Internationals but he blossomed during the 6N. I think that an approach with RWC’11 in mind, but room for one or two such as Shawsy, should help the team build experience whilst also delivering performances capable of winning matches now. Don’t forget that by having the likes of Shaw and Tindall around, experience can then be passed on as well as earned.

  17. Tommy I dont see much negativity about Wilko, there’s not much discussion about him because he’s a shoo-in.

    For the moment, bugger the 2011 World Cup, it’s 2 years away. Chucking in players before they are ready will not develop them, it will ruin them. We’ve seen it time and again. How much better might Tait be now had he been left to develop at Newcastle rather than being thrown in way before he was ready? And that’s just one example. The likes of Kennedy could learn so much playing alongside Shaw, just as Geraghty could playing outside Wilko and Foden playing with Cueto, Tindall, Wilko etc. Then when eg Shaw retires, Kennedy is ready to take up the mantle as senior lock forward.

    We have spent several years looking too far ahead and it’s got us nowhere. Results now are the only thing at the moment. Create a winning squad in a winning environment and any new young players will come into a situation in which they can thrive rather than walking into a squad where everyone is looking to everyone else for leadership and not taking responsibility. For me, it doesn’t even come down to a conscious decision to blend the old with the new, it is simply picking your best side. If we were a year from the World Cup and Shaw was unlikely to make it then fine but for now it’s all about winning the next game. Take care of the present and the future will take care of itself.

  18. I guess we’re too used to getting excited about Wilko “getting back to his 2003 form” and then being disappointed when the inevitable injuries occur. 10 is our most critical need and with Wilko, in theory, having a few good playing years ahead of him, his prolonged return would be a huge boost for England. All other things being equal, it could give us a real good shot at the 6N. However, I for one will believe it when I see it.

    Tommy, if Shawsy makes it to 2011, then I want whatever he is taking! He certainly didn’t look like the veteran in SA, but it has to catch up with him eventually. I would agree though that he should play now alongside someone like Kennedy. But I don’t think any of us believe there is a hope in hell of a fit Borthwick being dropped.

    Stuart, have we really pursued a strategy of blooding young talent in recent years?! There may be a few examples, but generally I would say no (certainly not under Johnno). Contrast with what Livremont has done so far. Anthony Allen is about the last example I can think of where we put a guy in too early.

    Does anyone really think a Geraghty, Foden or Monye is going to gain anything from playing with Tindall?!

  19. My England team would be…

    15 Delon Armitage
    14 Ugo Monye
    13 Shane Geraghty
    12 Mike Tindall
    11 Matt Banahan
    10 Johnny Wilkinson
    9 Danny Care

    1 Andy Sheridan
    2 Dylan Hartley
    3 David Wilson
    4 Simon Shaw
    5 Nick Kennedy
    6 Tom Croft
    7 Tom Rees
    8 Nick Easter

    Reps
    Phil Vickery
    Tim Payne
    Lee Mears
    Jordan Crane
    Joe Worsley
    Ben Foden
    Danny Cipriani
    Jordan Turner-Hall

  20. im glad joe simpson is getting noticed, he exploded out of the blocks this season and as a wasps fan i hope he doesn’t slow down. he has been hugely creative at 9 aswell as providing the service for cipriani.

    other than that, i just want kennedy in for borthwick. i get the feeling that johnno is selecting sqauds to fit his gameplan, which can result in a below par team, rather than modeling a gameplan that fits the best team we can send out on the park.

    if monye puts in some good performances for quins at 15, where they have played him recently, i think a re-shuffle may be in the running. but to be honest i dont think monye would settle into a fullback role at international level.

  21. Whooooooaaaaaa there Stuart!!!!

    “Rees is another player who has never quite looked top notch against the best opposition”

    Really??? IMO he is the one Eng player who has absolutely stood up to the very best opposition in the world during the dark days until we started to look reasonable again last year. The last 2 ganes Eng played in NZ (when NZ were v good by the way, not the pale shadow of a team we’re seeing now!) were pretty depressing for Eng apart from the back row in both games, comprising Rees, Haskell and Narroway. The stand-out player in both games was Rees who matched McCaw every step of the way. In view of the fact NZ beat Eng both times I think that was a landmark performance against the best player in the world at that moment. His ongoing injury problems are what have hampered him, not any lack of ability.

    Seriously???

  22. talking about the RWC 2011 MJ should be making the number 8 position a must fix position. easter and crane are not nearly dynamic enough for the modern game, just take Spies of SA as the example of a modern no8. MJ should be trying to convinve players like haskell, Banahan or even Croft (so he’s always in the team) to become that the atheltic no8 that is needed in the modern game.

    as far as autum internationals go think the article is spot on bar Banahan on the wing – possibly replace him with Cueto, although i’m still not convinced borthwick is captian material

  23. An interesting viewpoint about taking someone big and fast and making them into a No. 8, rather than shaping the talent that already exists in that position.

    Dan Ward-Smith is back on the radar, and rumour has it that he’s been raising a few eyebrows in the England camp with his gas. It would be great to see him finally break into the side.

  24. If Dan ward-smith or Narroway can develop within the next 12 months into an international player, what other options does he have other than change a dynmaic player that has the ability to play 4-8 (matt banahan would probably have other ideas though!) and specialise them until the younger talent comes through. doubt he would do that though and keep faith with Easter and Crane due to the elite players contracts

  25. I like the idea of it, and have never been a huge fan of Easter, as some of my Quins-supporting friends will attest. Crane is a bit too similar, and Haskell seems to have dropped out of the picture altogether.

    I’m becoming a Banahan fan, and it would be quite amusing to see him at 8, even if it’s just for a set move on an attacking scrum.

  26. Haskell will hopefully find form again, now he’s playing in France – just like Wilko has. Banahan at 8 could be an interesting option, however I think we may be dreaming a little as i can’t ever see it happening. Ward-smith is another option. I’d personally pick Crane over Easter at the moment simply to allow for a young, powerful backrow (Croft, Rees, Crane).

    Personally my main concerns are for front row. The raging bull is no longer raging and at 33 he is unlikely be around for much longer. Sheridan is still very good and should have a few years left in him. White is 36 and i’m simply astonished he is still going. Payne is good, but not world class. Wilson is good and at 24 should be around for many years, but is permanently hampered by injury. Who do we have coming up to replace the old guard?

    For the first time in many years, I actually feel quite confident about the talent we have in the backs (whoever is selected). 2nd row and back row are also fairly strong, with several good options.

    Will be very interested to see who MJ selects, and with Borthwick currently ruled out for 2-4 weeks min, could we possibly be lead by someone new?

  27. Have you actually been watching Foden play this season?

    DREADFUL.

    No way Johnson will pick him. He is too erratic, makes mistakes and lacks basic awareness of full-back play.

  28. Haskell looked to the manor born a year or two ago.

    He was a bit poorly treated by Eng when dropped a couple of times after playing quite well. Fair dos he lost a bit of form after that, but IMO he is the one Eng player who has the ability to go forward every time he gets the ball, tremendous strength in the leg. I think he’s the answer at No8. Narraway looked to be improving in those NZ games but lacks a bit of size.

    While we wait for those two to get back in among things it’s gonna be Easter/Crane/Ward-Smith filling in.

    I do agree that we have a problem at tight-head. Vicks won’t go on forever and White has to be the thickest player ever to pull on an England shirt! The number of penalties he’s given away over the years is astonishing. I wish someone could persuade Big Ted to play tighthead; anyone can play loosehead.

    Not quiet sure what you mean by 2nd row being fairly strong Tommy. There’s Shaw and Kennedy (who started to show signs of getting involved in the darker areas towards the end of last year at last). And then there’s……………………………..

    Hmmmmm. Shaw’s almost done as well. What about Banahan? :)
    Actually I’d happily get Grewcock involved again. Just imagine Shaw and Grewcock. I can see the ABs scattering now!!!

  29. I’d rather stick pins in my eyes than see White playing for England again. About as one-dimensional as there is, and not very effective in the scrum any more. Not a huge fan of Sheridan either – for all his physical prowess, what does he contribute? If games were settled with a bench-pressing contest, he would be a star, but for me he goes missing too often, lacks any kind of dynamism with ball in hand and doesn’t even seem to be as formidable in the scrum any more.

    Can you imagine what the Welsh/Lions front row is going to do to us this year? Only positive will be Hartley, if selected.

  30. Ok Mat, so who’s banging the door down at loosehead? Why are some people so down on Sheri? Sometimes he doesn’t dominate games, but other times he does. I don’t know what you mean by he goes missing. He does a lot of nitty gritty work at breakdowns that some people don’t appreciate. His rucking in the Aus game in the WC was even more crucial than his scrummaging that day IMO. Also he’s the only prop I’ve seen in the last few years to have had Hayman in trouble. And I’m sorry but no one, bar Shaw possibly, makes hard yards in the Eng team like him at the moment. Yes, Gethin Jenkins tackles more and is more mobile, but they both have different strengths. The Lions hould have used them both more intelligently, especially as Smit struggled badly against Sheri. Jones played well in SA and proved that he is a good scrummager, though not as good as Euan Murray who the S African’s were relieved not to have to face. And poor old Vicks was sown up like a kipper by a ref who had absolutely no idea what was going on in THAT game and gave every decision the wrong way in the first half, even the couple that he gave to the Lions!!

  31. Ok, 2nd row isn’t too strong. Kennedy and Shaw are amazing. but unfortunately Shaw will be retiring soon. Borthwick is having a good start to the season, but is an awful captain and dissappointingly, as long as he is in he team he’ll keep the captaincy. Deacon never seems to do much. Crane and Croft can both cover 2nd row but are better back rowers. Grewcock is a legend, but the fact that he’s older than Shaw, makes me doubt he’s in the mix. Anyone i’ve missed out?

  32. TJ – I don’t think there is a strong contender at loosehead. I’m not suggesting Sheridan should not start, just that I don’t think he makes a massive contribution. Aside from the Aus game – which was truly monumental, I think he’s been OK, not great, and I don’t see the hard yards you see… Let’s be clear though, without him, we’d be even more screwed.

  33. Fair enough Mat. My opinion of the hard yards is one of appreciation that it always seems to take 2 or 3 opposition players simply to stop him, one player rarely being up to the job of slowing him down at all. You never ever see him being knocked backwards with ball in hand. Contrast that with Borthwick being shunted backwards by scrum-halves of all nations! This facet creates space for others on the one hand, but also crucially provides a forward-moving target for his support players to ruck over the point of contact allowing for the much-vaunted quick ball for backs. Dynamic rucking is the key in the modern game IMO.

    I have seen lots of international games where he’s caused quite a bit of consternation in the opposition in the darker areas. The Lions game against the Southern Kings was as good a performance around the park from 2 props as I’ve seen in a long time (Murray was the other). They were awsome, the dynamic way the pair of them were blasting the opposition off the ball at the breakdown was wonderful to watch. Jenkins tends to excel in the more visible areas where there’ a bit more light available, which is why some people prefer him. I like both players. Sadly Murray got injured. It’s probably at that moment the Lions lost the 1st test.

    I’ve also seen games where he’s not done a lot, but let’s be fair here, no player ever dominates games all the time. It’s especially difficult for a prop to do that, which demonstrates how potent a weapon he can be. Some people seem to demand an Earth-shattering performance from him every time. I’m happy to take what he can offer and leave it at that.

  34. I am up for finding a new 8, the options are slim but if we are being honest there are quite a few areas where we lack depth but at least there is consistancy in team selection. I think Haskell is the future at 8 although he plays at 6 for Stade and with Pariasse there I can’t see that changing.

    The options are slim, Bannahan idea is a bit of a joke and it will never happen. I would prefer Croft at 8 if he played there for the tigers, he could be the harry Nordicuy of England, Haskell at 6 could take over a lot of ball carrying and Rees at 7 but we are at least a year away from that at the moment it is Easter or Craine, maybe ward-smith depending on how it goes in the coming months.

    On a positive positions which are competitive are 6, 7, 9, 10 (should be), 11,14,15 it’s not a lot but its a lot more than we had a couple of years back. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 12, 13 are all in need of work.

    patience

  35. what about rhys gill
    i found out that he is eligable for england and has english blood in him
    he is playing fantastic rugby for saracens and they are top of the table.
    surely there is no point wasting time with old men such as juilien white.
    we got to look towards the future as well he is still 22

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