England Squad for Six Nations 2014


England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster today announced one change to the Senior England Elite Player Squad.

George Ford (Bath Rugby, right) replaces Leicester Tigers’ Toby Flood in the mid-season squad revision under the Rugby Football Union’s agreement with Premiership Rugby Ltd.

Ford’s promotion is accompanied by call-ups for eight other England Saxons who will, pending fitness following Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup Rounds 5 and 6, join the RBS 6 Nations training squad at Pennyhill Park on Monday, January 20 as injury replacements for players who will remain in the Senior EPS.

Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints), Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs), Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby), Matt Mullan (London Wasps), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers), Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks) and Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby) replace Manusamoa Tuilagi (chest), Tom Croft (knee), Marland Yarde (hip), Alex Corbisiero (knee), Christian Wade (foot), Geoff Parling (shoulders), David Wilson (calf) and Ben Foden (knee) respectively.

In addition, Stephen Myler (Northampton Saints), Rob Webber (Bath Rugby) and Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), will train with the Senior squad.

Lancaster said: “I am delighted for George (Ford) who is rewarded for his form for Bath and we are excited about including him in the Senior Elite Player Squad.

“We have kept changes to a minimum because we believe that this squad can take us forward into 2015 and we are hopeful that some of those injured may be available before the end of the Six Nations and certainly for the New Zealand tour.

“I have met Toby Flood several times and told him I really wanted him to stay at Leicester and play for England. He has made a lifestyle choice and we respect that but given the RFU’s policy of not selecting players based overseas save for exceptional circumstances it was important that we allow others such as George Ford to progress.

“Stephen Myler has a chance to lay down a marker when he trains with us while we have decided that Freddie Burns should get more international game time with the Saxons against the O2 Ireland Wolfhounds at Kingsholm on January 25, and Rob Webber and Richard Wigglesworth will give us some depth to our training.”

Other changes to the England Saxons EPS see Nathan Catt (Bath Rugby), Mullan (London Wasps), Will Collier (Harlequins), Sam Dickinson (Northampton Saints), Dave Ewers (Exeter Chiefs), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Henry Trinder (Gloucester Rugby) and Watson replace Kearnan Myall (London Wasps), Nick Wood (Gloucester Rugby), Paul Doran Jones (Harlequins), Jordan Crane (Leicester Tigers), Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers), Ford, David Strettle (Saracens) and Charlie Sharples (Gloucester Rugby) respectively.

ENGLAND RBS 6 NATIONS SQUAD (35, assembling at Pennyhill Park Hotel on Monday, January 20)

Forwards (18)
David Attwood (Bath Rugby)
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
Matt Kvesic (Gloucester Rugby)
Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs)
Joe Launchbury (London Wasps)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
Joe Marler (Harlequins)
Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby)
Matt Mullan (London Wasps)
Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers)
Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks)
Billy Vunipola (Saracens)
Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
Rob Webber (Bath Rugby)
Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)
Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

george fordBacks (17)
Chris Ashton (Saracens)
Brad Barritt (Saracens)
Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints)
Danny Care (Harlequins)
Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints)
Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby)
Owen Farrell (Saracens)
George Ford (Bath Rugby)
Alex Goode (Saracens)
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby)
Stephen Myler (Northampton Saints)
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)
Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby)
Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)


Forwards (17)
David Attwood (Bath Rugby)
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
Alex Corbisiero (Northampton Saints)
Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers)
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
Matt Kvesic (Gloucester Rugby)
Joe Launchbury (London Wasps)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
Joe Marler (Harlequins)
Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby)
Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers)
Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
Billy Vunipola (Saracens)
Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
David Wilson (Bath Rugby)
Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)
Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Backs (16)
Chris Ashton (Saracens)
Brad Barritt (Saracens)
Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby)
Danny Care (Harlequins)
Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints)
Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby)
Owen Farrell (Saracens)
Ben Foden (Northampton Saints)
George Ford (Bath Rugby)
Alex Goode (Saracens)
Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)
Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby)
Christian Wade (London Wasps)
Marland Yarde (London Irish)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)


Forwards (17)
Nathan Catt (Bath Rugby)
Calum Clark (Northampton Saints)
Will Collier (Harlequins)
Sam Dickinson (Northampton Saints)
Dave Ewers (Exeter Chiefs)
Will Fraser (Saracens)
James Haskell (London Wasps)
Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs)
Graham Kitchener (Leicester Tigers)
George Kruis (Saracens)
Matt Mullan (London Wasps)
David Paice (London Irish)
George Robson (Harlequins)
Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers)
Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks)
Luke Wallace (Harlequins)
Rob Webber (Bath Rugby)

Backs (15)
Anthony Allen (Leicester Tigers)
Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints)
Elliot Daly (London Wasps)
Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby)
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby)
Ugo Monye (Harlequins)
Stephen Myler (Northampton Saints)
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)
Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)
Joe Simpson (London Wasps)
Mathew Tait (Leicester Tigers)
Joel Tomkins (Saracens)
Henry Trinder (Gloucester Rugby)
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby)
Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

90 thoughts on “England Squad for Six Nations 2014

  1. The Six Nations squad is exciting, especially in the backs where he has picked young players who are in great form. And Ashton.

  2. In a way I always find the Saxons squad more interesting when the squads are announced, as the predictions for the senior squad have been done to death.
    The EPS didn’t change much, as expected, and the expected players got called up as injury replacements to the six nations squad (thankfully) – but the Saxons squad also has a much better look to it I think. i.e. Dickinson and Ewers in for the two Leicester no. 8’s and Strettle – who some people were tipping to be called up for the Six Nations, is no where to be seen!

    1. I thought Waller might make it into the Saxons at loose head after the way he has been taking a succession of experienced tight heads apart this season.

    1. Yep, but remember not all teams use their 12 and 13 in the same way. For example, Wales have their bosher at 12 (e.g. Roberts) and playmaker at 13 (JD2). Whereas England do it the other way round (36/Manu).

      I think Burrell would make a good England 13, if his defence is properly managed.

      1. Yeah I understand that, but what I really mean is that all of the england centres play 12 for their clubs, irrespective of what type of player they are, and so one will have to be shifted.

      2. Too true! Too often people think that there’s only one way to play(coaches included). I for one would love to see Eastmond/36 and Burrell/36 at 12 and 13 respectively

        1. It’s the way we’ve done it for years – we won the RWC with Greenwood on the inside and Tindall outside him (although Greenwood wore 13 because he was superstitious)

          1. True, although I definitely prefer the NZ/Wales way of having the big man at 12 (tho Nonu is more than just a crash ball player nowadays) and a playmaker at 13

            For me, the plan should be that powerful runs from the 12 suck in mid-field defenders and if the off-load is not on then the closeness to the forwards normally allows for a quick re-cycling, leaving the fly-half and the 13 to set the fast men free.

            If you put your crash ball runner at 13, too often the ball will not make out to the wingers and when the 13 is bought down the ball is slow to come back as the support isn’t there to clear out the ruck

  3. Sometimes wonder about Lanc’s selections & why he makes them, but in the fwds, David Attwood, Matt Kvesic, Matt Mullan, Ed Slater & Henry Thomas are interesting to me. Heard of Attwood for yonks, but never had a run, so why now? Maybe he’s improved out sight last yr? Read about Slater via S Jones of the S Times (altho that’s no rec whatsoever), so hope he doesn’t sit it out forever. Also with Matt Kvesic & Henry Thomas, other S Jones’ picks of yore(! Yikes!?), nevertheless, I’d like to see what they’ve got. And finally with Matt Mullan, who has also been around for some time… without a run out, I exactly can’t explain it, but I like the look/sound of him.

    In the backs it’s Mike Brown (why wasn’t he in forever), Kyle Eastmond (dunno how he’ll go, but hopefully better than prev), George Ford (a real live wire, but to replace the dreadnought Farrell? Not in the English nature I fear) & the electric eel Christian Wade. Gotta get the ball to him EARLY & LOTS… alas, when/if he gets back/in.

    But if England still crab E to W with mid field cloggers like Barritt who can’t straighten the attack & try to run over or through people, then shuffling deck chairs will make it a long day in the long run (like it was last yr v Italy, SA, Oz & Wales).

    1. Attwood has been in the squad for a while and has got a few caps, but below Launchbury, Lawes and Parling in the pecking order. Same situation for Mullan in that Corbs, Marler and Vunipola are all ahead of him. Both good players and always around squads ready to step up.

      Farrell has been playing brilliantly for Saracens, the Premiership team with the most tries this season, so no reason why he shouldn’t play.

      Also, England didn’t play SA last year. And we only lost to Wales (yes miserably), so I’m not sure of your problem there.

        1. Not a lot really, and to be honest I don’t actually think that’s true. Saracens have been brilliant in recent weeks, scoring loads of tries and Farrell has been at the heart of it all.

    2. Very surprised that Kvesic hasn’t been replaced by Luke Wallace. Glad to see that Tomkins is dropped out of the senior squad but I question the reasoning behind retaining him in the Saxons.

    3. Interesting that you don’t think Barritt can straighten up an attack, as most people see him as a player who only runs into the defence? Barritt is a good player, and has deceptively good hands and can play 12 or 13. He is also a fantastic tackler and defender, and that is something England will definitely need in a back line with two or potentially three new caps.

  4. Interesting there is no out and out 13 in the 6 nations squad- 4 inside centres… I know the plan is probably to play Burrell at 13 and both eastmond and Barrett can do a job there, but still? Would have been a good idea to get one of joseph/daly/Trinder to train with them as well surely?

    Also whilst I am by no means a fan of his, poor old strettle must be wondering what he has to do- now dropped from the Saxons! Especially as Ashton is still in the eps…

    Saxons the most interesting- good to see ewers and slade in there. Also probably best for cipriani, no easy path back, keep him working! Though shame that will probably rule him out the summer tour as well…

  5. What a shame that Cipriani doesn’t get a chance to lay down a marker for either the Seniors or the Saxons.

  6. Really happy with both the squads. Probably the only shock might be that Slater is ahead of Kitchener in the pecking order, but both are good players.

    Slightly surprised also that Burrell hasn’t jumped Eastmond into the EPS – I thought Burrell was more of an SL type of player.

    Stand by the team I posted on here yesterday to start against France.

  7. A bit of statement there re Strettle, club form counts for little if you do not perform for England. I hope he is consistent and drops Ashton and goes with both rookies on the wings.

  8. Ashton’s form has been no better or worse than Nowell, May or Watson. The difference is we’ve seen Ashton play for England and he hasn’t scored a lot of tries recently, and his defence has been missing at times. And whilst it’s exciting to see these guys get their chance, I don’t think we’ll see them score many tries either, until we get a top class attacking coach in the England set-up.

    Farrell has proved this season with Sarries that he can get a back line moving if the team are playing in a style that allows it. Recently England have not been playing that style of rugby, hence Ashton or Brown or Foden or whoever has been on the other wing, have not been scoring many tries.

    Will we see England being more adventurous in their play with some of these exciting young players wanting to prove themselves? I really hope so!

  9. Pretty happy with the 6N and Saxons inclusions. Retaining Burns in EPS but getting him some game time with Saxons seems a good decision balancing form and potential.

    Appreciate that with so much enforced change it’s not an ideal opportunity for ‘out with the old’ as well, but the thought of Goode and Ashton clocking up more international experience at the expense of anyone else (when there are only ~20 caps available before RWC) brings me out in a cold sweat.

  10. There is a 13 in the squad chaps, just his club play him in the back three more than the centres. Jonny May’s preferred position is outside centre, despite the fact he is comfortable anywhere in the back three as well. Doubt he will get a shot to play there though, he hasn’t had much game time in the 13 jersey this season.

    1. Didn’t realise may prefers to play at 13- that would explain woodwards claim that he should be playing there for England. Would certainly offer something different for England there! But would we lack a bigger ball carrying threat? Burrell/may 12/13 would be very interesting!

  11. Very interested to see that Trinder is not in the 6N squad given his involvement with the senior squad during the Autumn Internationals.

    Very pleased to see Wigglesworth involved too.

  12. Not bad

    The forwards look great lots of depth. I would like to see Kvesic getting a run not because the backrow is a weak link but because we might want to create a different type of option there. We have been there before on this Blog.

    Sad about Cipp, I still believe that he can light it up when given the chance, i don’t see the defence being an issue, it isn’t great but Cooper plays for AUS and that shows where the countries put their priorities.

    The Wings are wide open as we have terrible injury problems, Ashton might get picked on experience which is awful but hey what can you do. oode needs to be dropped, he offers nothing.

    May and Watson on the wings gives us real gass for the first time in a long time. Brown at 15 to organise them.

    The problem is in the centres, we still have no clue who is going to play where, injuries haven’t helped. People keep mentioning names because of what the COULD do for England, Burrell, Daily, May (at 13) Eastmond , joseph, Trinder. I like them all but they are all unknown quantities. We have to stick with 12ts as he has the talent and could still come good given time to get comfortable, he would benefit from having Manu outside him to attract some attention. I still hope in that combo for the WC. 12ts at 12 for the whole 6N no matter what apart from injuries. Trinder or Burrell should be tested with him.

    Lets see what happens but Farrell will play at 10 and with that on the cards the England attack will never look anything other than pedestrain.

  13. I have become a huge England even though I am a total South African out and out here in Cape Town.

    I am up to date with most things you guys mention here, luckily enough we get a few Aviva and Heineken Cup games via satelite here ever weekend.

    Personally Chris Ashton is one of my fav players in the world, been great for Sarries but obviously for England he has not really looked for work off the wing, but then again England’s whole backline seems to be on the backfoot lately. So just wonder why so many England fans want him out, I say keep him there coz when he comes good he’s possibly best 14 in world. Boks had same problem with Habana for a season and a bit, then he came back this year and was superb and possibly even better than his old self. Just a thought, you guys are closer to the action of course.

    Then finally, I used to enjoy Matt Banahan, do you guys think he’ll ever be back in contention for England?

    Would love your opinion.

    But great squad, happy Burns is kept, Kvesic for the diff option in the loose and of course Richard Wigglesworth who is really looking more and more like a complete 9…

    1. Daniel,

      Matt Bananaman has never lived down the pre-2011 RWC game in Cardiff where he at 6ft 8 inches and 22 stone was 5 metres from the Welsh try line and got tackled and somehow failed to score. He was brought down by the enormous 4 ft 6 inches and 5 stone Shane ‘he’s far too small for any level of rugby’ Williams.

      Even Matt Stevens could have made the White line in that situation1

      Also a memorable game for the two dreadful yellow cards against Wales and the knock on in the 77th minute which was seen by 74,000 people in the ground and everyone watching on TV but oddly missed that greatest of Irish ref Alain ‘soon to be gone, you cheating b+stard’ Rolland

    2. Daniel, I think that Banahan is probably playing some of his best rugby at the moment at Bath. His difficulty is partly is past experiences with England (as Enoch correctly notes), and the fact that there are a considerable number of younger, faster players around.

      Watson, Nowell and May are no less exciting than the unfortunate Wade and Yarde. I think for these reasons, he’ll struggle to see an England shirt again.

      As for Ashton, I have long been an admirer of his play. The problem is that I don’t think he is in the form he was a couple of years ago. Yes, he has scored plenty at Saracens this season (as has Strettle) but I am not sure that many of his tries are an example of his form – more an example of the Saracens teams ability to create the chances.

      Wigglesworth is in excellent shape at the moment and I would not be disappointed (though I would be surprised) to see him start at 9.

  14. I like the majority of this selection in both EPS and Saxons. My concern is whether bringing in young pacy wingers will make any difference given our current game plan or whether these selections herald a change of direction in terms of attack. With the lack of pace and creativity in the 10 and 13 selections I fear the former. I agree with Daniel that Ashton is a top winger but the inability of england to put him in space blunts his effect and I think this will ring true of any winger selected. I don’t quite understand why the selection of these wingers wasnt accompanied by a running 13 able to help link the back line and give better balance and threat.

    Lastly would rather have seen Wallace in for kvesic, I think he offers more heading into 2015.

    1. Pacy wingers might at least improve our kick chase and put pressure on the opposition. I also think that players like wade or Watson are the type of players who can create something from nothing so will be less reliant on our rather limited midfield.

    2. Nowell isn’t really a “pacy” winger.

      He beats people in a similar way to Mike Brown, he doesn’t accept tackles so inevitably slips through them. He’s very strong going forward and has the pace to take advantage of any breaks he does make.

      They are all better defensively than Ashton, better at kicking and actually have footwork.

  15. Please could you make one of those polls were the readers can select a starting team from the squad. Love it when you guys do that.
    Also, would be interested to see what peoples starting team would look like without all the injuries, maybe you could do a poll for that as well??

  16. Marler; Hartley; Cole; Launchbury; Lawes; Wood; Robshaw; Morgan; Youngs; Farrell; Nowell; Twelvetrees; May; Watson; Brown

    Vunipola; Youngs; Thomas; Attwood; Vunipola; Care; Ford; Burrell/Eastmond

    1. I like your thinking Robbo, but I don’t think we’ll see that combination of outside backs starting any time soon!

      Also, surely Bily V has to start at 8?

    2. My starting 15

      Marler, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Wood, Robshaw, Morgan, Dickson, Farrell, Nowell, 12T, Burrell, Watson, Brown

      Probable starting 15

      Marler, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Wood, Robshaw, Vunipola, Youngs, Farrell, Watson, 12T, Barritt, Ashton, Brown

      1. Think you’re right in the most part on your predicted 15. Any particular reason you’d prefer Morgan over Vunipola?

        1. Aye. I’d like to see Billy coming on when the other team are knackered.

          Imagine having to deal with Morgan for 60 mins only to look up and see Vunipola trotting onto the field

          BV is still a bit raw and I think Morgan has an edge on him defensively and at the back of the scrum So Morgan for 60 mins followed by 20 mins of power running from BV

          BV can also cover blind-side if necessary

          But hey, its a nice choice to have and I’d be happy with either

          1. I’d go the other way round, but I see your logic. For me, Vunipola has more about him and long term has more potential, so I’d like to see him get game time as he could grow into a world class number 8.

            Also just realised you have Marler over Mako. Do you have something against the Vunipola brothers or something?

            1. I would be tempted to start with Marler as well. I think that he offers more in the scrum which I believe is more important toward the first part of the game.

              Would certainly start with Billy V though.

  17. My 23 from this squad for the first game would be:
    1. Vunipola
    2. Hartley
    3. Cole
    4. Launchbury
    5. Lawes
    6. Wood
    7. Robshaw
    8. Vunipola
    9. Wigglesworth
    10. Farrell
    11. May
    12. Twelvetrees
    13. Burrell
    14. Ashton
    15. Brown
    16. T. Youngs
    17. Marler
    18. Thomas
    19. Attwood
    20. Morgan
    21. Dickson
    22. Ford
    23. Watson

  18. Jacob

    Regds Atwood e.g., don’t recall his having had a consistant run 4 England. Why doesn’t he get more time if only initially as a rotational player in games e.g. v Italy but also during matches v France/Wales, otherwise how will Lancaster know what he’s got?

    NZ, on the other hand, have chucked in guys like Kane, Todd, Luatua, Savea, Barrett & prev Cruden @ the deep end & they either more or less stood up or they didn’t… but they get game time.

    As for Corbis, he was @ Irish for ages & suddenly he’s a seeming world beater (apart from his perma? gammy knee i.e.). As for Marler, bit sus @ scrummage for me (nice haircuts tho) & Vunipola, a bit ponderous? Can he do more than bash upfield? Can he off load & pass a ball from a ruck like say Franks, because that’s what fwds must be able to do today?

    You say that ‘Farrell has been playing brilliantly for Saracens’, but anyone can sing when they’re winning… behind a semi Int’al pack. And they’re not England. Int’al level & esp v the SH, is a different kettle. The only real test to be blunt (you’ll see in June). Lancsater will never play Danny Cip, but Farrell will never carve up a team like DC did v Ireland a couple of seasons back. IMO however, Farrell fits the English & particularly Lancaster’s mindset. Bulldog breed, backs to the wall, Dunkirk spirit & all that, but as for creativity? Seems a dirty word. Ask Stuart Barnes.

    I don’t have a problem, but if I were English I would have. Surely England went backwards after the AB win (the yr before last then). People like Blighty have accused me of whining regds that AB game, but he (& a few others) missed the point. It wasn’t an entirely merited win due to Norovirus, however all seemed to take it as such & this, IMO, didn’t do England – coaches, players or fans – any favours… & culminated in ordinary performances thereafter & the big loss to Wales. That would worry me… & altho Lancs has said England are ‘going in the right direction’, is nonsense. They’re back to 4th in the rankings!

    But if you’re happy, then good luck.

    1. Your Attwood point is baffling. Launchbury and Lawes are both younger and better than Attwood. The ABs don’t put in older players that are not as good for a string of matches. He has 5 caps, and a fair amount of game time, enough to know that he is a capable understudy but not much more.

      Corbs has been Englands first choice LH for years now. As for Marler I agree, but he really is not a bad third choice LH, dependable at international level is all you could call him. Vunipola actually has fantastic hands for a forward and brilliant offloading skills so you picked the completely wrong English forward to pin point there.

      Everyone in England knows the back line is not creative, but progress is definitely being made. The AB game was a one off. I for one think this AI series was better than 2012. That series was blinded by the AB win, when we were awful against the Aussies and SA. This year we looked comfortable and confident in beating the Aussies and the Argies (again with a lack of coherance in the back line), then showed we have a pack that can compete against the very best in the ABs game.

      So yes, I think SL is absolutely right when he says we are going in the right direction. Let’s remember that England are missing their first choice 13, 11, and 14 in Tuilagi, Wade and Yarde. Not many teams could lose those types of players and look like the same side.

      Farrell I have no issue with as well. He has got back lines moving in both a Sarries and a Lions shirt. I can only assume it is the way he being told to play. There is no domestic 10 in England playing better than he is, so he is our first choice.

      1. Did you watch the Argentina games (in the summer)? Atwood has a game style that launchbury nor lawes can match. He is quite in the simon shaw mould and he is a brilliant scrummager. Thought he was outstanding in the summer and Id love to see him get more game time. He has matured a lot since his first match for England both as a person and a player, and he has brains, if you listen to him talk about the game he really understands it.

  19. Jacob

    Atwood was just an e.g. or query, for me. I could have picked someone else out like David Wilson, who is also being talked about again… but who also never seems to get game time. I don’t esp know whether either are that good, but why if e.g. Atwood’s not all that, is he there at all. Esp as Lancs has a yoof policy (remember Easter? Is Morgan palying better?). I mean, get another bolter in then & blood them for the future. That’s all.

    And surely Corbis, altho he has been around for awhile, has not been the 1st choice for the yrs you say? It doesn’t seem that long ago that Marler was the coming & favoured L prop? For me it’s only in the last yr or so that Corbis has featured… & mainly making his name on the back of the last Lions test v Oz? Besides England should be wary. Irish seem to have got shot of him due to his injury prone knee.

    If ‘Everyone in England knows the back line is not creative’, why has Lannc’s not sorted it. he’s been there for over 2 yrs. Too many ex R1 Leicester & RL coaches ?

    You also say ‘progress is definitely being made’ & that ‘This year we looked comfortable and confident in beating the Aussies and the Argies’, well you were @ home for a 7 pointer v Oz, had a lucky ‘obstruction’ try awarded & the bloody fullback was def out which led to the try if I recall, so God was on yr side that day for sure. And Arg are No. 10. You too add; ‘showed we have a pack that can compete against the very best in the ABs game’. Well the ABs were at their season end & let’s face it, they need the dosh. Again the real tests will be away. Altho, in fairness, England have usually had a competative scrum, but they need more than that for me.

    Farrell’s no D Carter or Q Cooper (creativity?), he’s a gaol kicker & a tackler IMO, but if you think club level is good enough, then maybe the June tour will prove you right. For me, I’d give Georgie Boy a run in the 6N.

    I’d apologise for being negative, but I just don’t see that much has fundamentally changed in England for the last 10 yrs by and large. You have the players, but… you should ghave got Joe Schmidt off Leinster to change yr mindset. Pity about Wayne Smith. SL did have a go there tho.

    1. Wilson has been our second-choice tighthead for 4 years. I personally think he’s as good as Cole, if not better. He has 31 caps which says quite a lot.

    2. As I said in my last post, SL has two very young locks in Launchbury and Lawes, with Parling in there as well, giving Attwood loads of game time makes no sense.

      Corbs has been first choice LH for years, the gaps have only been due to injury. And his prominence this year has only been media driven from the media due to the Lions tour, anyone who has watched him play over the last few years knows how good he. Marler has never been ahead of Corbs in the pecking order so I’m not sure where you got your info from on that one.

      SL has not had many other options. There are young wingers coming through now, and he is giving them an opportunity. Over the past two years those options haven’t been there, so he has been very sensible in building a game plan built around a forward pack that is fantastic. I honestly believe you are completely wrong if you don’t think the England pack is as good as any. But hey, as you say, we go away to NZ this summer. Hang on, thats at the end of our long season so not to worry, we have an excuse then too.

      Please, that’s absolute nonsense.

      I’m not sure what your point is on Farrell. No he is not as creative as Carter or Cooper, but, neither is Steyn and SA are pretty good. I have no issue with Farrell and I’m sure with a better back line behind him and more international experience will come to the fore as a very accomplished fly half.

      1. Attwood is there because he is the best English lock at the set piece.
        He’s the best scrummager and the best mauler.

        Statistically he’s better than Parling at everything, bar the Lineout.
        He’s there on merit… a lot of people don’t notice that because he isn’t a flashy player.

  20. Launches work in the set piece and mauls is great and getting better. He’s also putting on weight and improving his carrying.

  21. Jacob

    Getting bogged with Attwood. My pt was simply this; why have him (or others in a similar posi) around at all if he’s they’re going to warm the bench… certainly from his/their pt/s of view? England have some had history of this & it demotivates. Either give him/them some time or dump him/them, esp as SL has his aforementioned youth policy. That’s all. Also see ‘Tom’s’ comments FYI (& mine).

    ‘Corbisiero made his sr debut for England v Italy on 12/2/11 when Andrew Sheridan was ruled out with injury’; so it’s only been a couple of yrs & I seem to recall Marler’s playing more often than his. Injury permitting, he is currently No.1.

    Regds the ‘fantastic’ E pack, well, they weren’t that fantastic v Wales in 2012 @ Cardiff & looked ordinary in following games. Also the Argintines have shunted the ABs a few times, but it’s more than just grunt up front. Watch the odd reply of Kieron Read. Anyone in the E pack done anything similar? If they did do so then yr claim might have a bit more cred methinks. Bur as aforementioned, NZ will tell.

    Yr view of Farrell is not shared even by the E lover S Jones of the S Times… or Stuart Barnes. Ever wondered why? But if you rate him, good on you. Rob Andrew mk II?

    And I don’t need to make excuses for the ABs, but these tours have become routine… & if they didn’t need the £, why would they need to tour every yr… with their record?

    You’re entitled to yr opinions, but thy seem somewhat over inflated & based on being what? Being back down to 4th in the world? And SL reckons they’re going in the right direction? But the rankings don’t lie.

    1. There will always be playing on the fringes of any international squad, that doesn’t mean they should be binned, simply that they are not yet first choice, that’s just the way of the world when it comes to sport.

      The England Wales game has proved to be the exception rather than the rule. In the same way the Argentinian pack got battered a few times this year, it doesn’t mean they are poor, it happens.

      I think my rating of the England team is about spot on. The ABs are clearly the best side in the world, the SAs are second, then there are three of four teams who are trying to catch them. Yes England are fourth currently but the Aussies are third and we beat them in the AIs, so sometimes they do lie a little.

      Also, if you are going to question my judgement based on pundit’s comments, you probably could not have used two worse examples.

  22. Jacob

    Ironically, you & S Jones seem to have much in common. You both appear longish on subjectivity & shortish on objectivity.

    You don’t seem to have absorbed much of what I have conveyed; players without game time get demotivated, fringe or not. NZ e.g. chuck in Luatua & Piatau (unknowns) for the R. Ch’ship. SL is bringing back Attwood after yrs in the wilderness?? Why, esp if Attwood’s getting on as you say & esp as SL has a youth policy… & an England player based policy for that matter (ruled out Steffon Armitage, aruably the most effective England open side by some yards, because he’s an hr away by plane in France! Is it much further than from say N’castle?) It’s therefore his & Yr judgment I question. BTW a couple of others here rate Attwood with reasons stated. But you seem content for him & presumably others, to be happily benched however. Whatever his merits or not, I’ll be surprised if he’s gets much of a go.

    The Wales game I’m talking about (30 odd to 3 I think?), was clearly not an exception, as aforementioned, based on reults of subsequent games; lost or scraped by (e.g. Italy). England had a win (at home) last yr v Oz, by 7 with a couple of dubious ref’s decisions (they happen I know)?! Hello! It was 1 game. 1 swallow making yet another summer, or what? And as already stated Arg are 10th!

    You may think that yr rating of England ‘is about spot on’, but they’re currently 4th. They went down to that posi after attaining 3rd (for a short time only) because NZ & SA took points off Oz in the Ch’ship! England hadn’t even played a game when they reached No 3! Thus, they seem to have been treading water for me. On the other hand Oz are back up to 3rd as they earned the points to get back there. The top 3 are, IMO in 1 grp, then you get the 2nd tier etc.

    I base my views on what I know to be factual, certainly in the case of the last para, not a couple of S T hacks, altho Barnes does come highlight some issues, e.g. England’s ineffectual midfield (in terms of creativity i.e. tries!). SJ’s has always appeared a lickspittal who denied his roots & therefore the term ‘English Lover’ seems to fit him like a glove & so appears to distort his… ‘propaganda’? I also base my opinions of what I’ve seen in the game over here some some yrs & which undoubtably has a diff culture & as in part alluded to in refs to Attwood (& others e.g. Farrell choice over say Cip, or even Ford) & Armitage.

    So it’s surely still jury out on England?! But time will tell & as I say, the NZ tour should prove 1 of us a doorknob.

    1. South Africa, the second-best team in the world by some margin, had two shots at beating New Zealand and failed in 2013. So did a host of other teams, home and away. Therefore, I don’t think England losing the NZ series 3-0 would automatically mean all is lost for them.

    2. I don’t think Attwood is a poor player and not once have I suggested he is. Unfortunately for him, he is the 4th choice lock in England behind Launchbury, Parling and Lawes, which for most people is completely fair enough. There will always be fringe players in sport, that’s just the way it is. I certainly don’t think that Attwood has become demotivated and until there is evidence to suggest some sort of unrest in the England camp it seems like a non-issue to me.

      England in 2013 lost two matches. The exception in the Wales game which was an embarrassment, then we lost to the ABs by 8. Again, I’ll say, not a bad year really. Not great, but certainly going in the right direction.

      The Armitage issue again is strange. Most nations abide my the same rules, the ABs being one of them. If you want to play for England, play in the Premiership, Armitage has chosen not to, fair enough, but that was his choice and he knew full well the consequence of that. Jerome Kaino has been in Japan and therefore hasn’t played for the ABs – same situation. And it is again a non-issue.

      It is strange to say you base your views on fact, then follow it with saying the Australian side is far better than the ‘Tier 2’ English side that beat them just two months ago.

      Also, I really don’t know what you think the ABs beating us this summer will prove. England have won away their once in our history, and that was with the best England side we have ever had. I don’t think England are as good as the ABs, but that doesn’t make us a poor side. A very good SA side lost home and away to them last year.

    3. “You both appear longish on subjectivity & shortish on objectivity.” And the world explodes with the sheer level of unintended irony in that statement. I think Don you must be the most completely self-deluded person in the history of the world. To put yourself on a pedestal as a beacon of objectivity (which you clearly imply by dismissing other people’s ability to be) is just the funniest thing I have read on this blog for ages.

      Here’s a hint – just because you think it doesn’t mean it’s true/objective.

  23. I’d point out that NZ’s 3 closest results this year came in the AIs, so perhaps it’s the RC you should cancel if you’re worried about integrity of the game.

    You talk about NZ being very generous and throwing in unknowns, but Luatua started because Messam was injured. And Piatau came into the squad as Jane was out, Ben Smith was being moved to centre, he’s started 4 matches, replacing Savea against France in the AIs because Savea was ill, and one of his starts was against Japan. He’s a fantastic player, and deserves his spot, but don’t act as though his inclusion was anything other than simply bringing in the next best guy via the bench and injury, and him displacing the incumbent. Much like every other nation does.

    1 game does not make a summer (or winter), and looking at our results there have been 2 games of that nature, the Wales loss and the NZ wing, ignoring those, we’re doing just fine thank you. No, we aren’t as good as the ABs, but we’re getting better.

  24. Geat

    Depends on how much/if England potentially lose by, but 3 zip with a WC looming? All may not be lost, but England must look to better if they have WC apirations surely.


    Eh? The RC is light yrs ahead in skill, tempo etc. Cancel it? Why? IMO the AI’s, being @ the end of season, have become somewhat routine & with sometimes differing opponents, so their potency is diluted. Therefore too much should not be read into the (closeish) results. Compared with the Ellis Pk test, the AI’s pale somewhat. NZ, as are most teams I guess, up for any In’tal, but they are perhaps more up for the RC.

    1. I’m sure we do, but South Africa are probably the only team that go into a game against New Zealand not only confident they *can* win, but actually *expecting* to win.

      All I mean is that losing 3-0 away to New Zealand will not instantly make us the worse team in the world.

    2. Classic NZ fan doublespeak:

      “IMO the AI’s, being @ the end of season, have become somewhat routine & with sometimes differing opponents, so their potency is diluted. Therefore too much should not be read into the (closeish) results. Compared with the Ellis Pk test, the AI’s pale somewhat. NZ, as are most teams I guess, up for any In’tal, but they are perhaps more up for the RC.”

      So … in matches that NZ come close to losing it’s not really important because they are not important matches. NZ only beat people convincingly in matches they deem important? My mind is boggling now – because surely matches where someone nearly beats you, when you’re unbeaten, are, by definition, important?

      To settle the matter can we have a list up front of which matches matter and which don’t so we know which ones we can then enjoy if NZ lose? I mean, I wouldn’t want to watch them get beaten only to have someone whine that it doesn’t matter because NZ don’t see it as an important match…

  25. Dan II


    Regds Piatau (Jane was out for c. a yr I think), NZ could have retained Gear (or used Ranger) & shoved B. Smith into centre where he played plenty for Otago Hi’landers. They could also have used Vito (who had a good season last yr by all a/cs), Todd or even Cane to replace Messam. NZ replaced Weepu with Aaron Smith, Kerr-Barlow & PJ Peranara (until he too got crocked), not to mention Retellic @ lock or Barrett & Tom Taylor @ 1st 5. Even Dagg & Savea seem like vets now, but they haven’t been around forever either. Nor had Guildford (but he was a bit too fond of NZ’s equivalent to Wetherspoons apparantly).

    The pt is that NZ do give these young guys game time in cauldron rugger & not just due to injury to which you allude.

  26. Jacob

    I never suggested ‘unrest in the England camp’. It just doesn’t make much sense to me to bring Attwood back after yrs out & presuamably not play him as you say he’s 4th? in the pecking order, esp in light of others’ comments to the contrary, that’s all.

    England ‘going in the right direction’? They’ve down to 4th in the rankings! You sound like SL!

    The Armitage issue is 1 I pt out as I cannot see SL’s blind reasoning in deliberately shearing a team of a player because he’s not further away than N’Castle. If SA is not good enuff that’s another matter. But comments like ‘He’s not fit enuff’, from SL begger belief for me. How does he know? Did he test him in an England training camp? Smacks of Nero fiddling whilst his midfield is burning too, to me. NZ do deter players (they let Rene Ranger slip thru the net… & Gear IMO) from going o/seas, but there is a degree of flexibility e.g. when Carter went to France.

    Oz are No.3, England No. 4. Pity they didn’t add an Oz test in June. Would have been interesting.

    If you think ‘we’re doing just fine thank you’, then good on you, but IMO England should be doing better. If you got rid of SL & the ex rugby leaguers & Leicester coaches it would be a start. Too limited in their game plan… but of course that isn’t going to happen… altho all the other H. Nations have got rid of their own. Maybe the penny dropped… for a change in mindset?!

    1. Who would you rather was brought in for Attwood? Someone has to be fourth in line, and it is very common to have four locks in a squad of 35. It seems like a bazaar point you’re making here.

      I don’t see the rankings as massively relevant if I’m honest, Wales won a grand slam and were 9th in the same year. They can change quickly, and as I said, we beat the team that are currently higher than us just two months ago.

      It has nothing to do with Armitage travelling too far, or not being fit enough, It’s simple, if you want to play for England, you play in the Premiership, except for extreme examples. Dan Carter is an extreme example. Steffan Armitage is not. In most peoples opinion, he wouldn’t get in the team even if he was based in England, but that is a different, and completely irrelevant argument.

      “altho all the other H. Nations have got rid of their own. Maybe the penny dropped” – to be honest I don’t care too much what the other home nations do. The reality is that England are the highest ranked northern hemisphere side and have won 8 in our last 10 against northern hemisphere opposition, if those pesky Welsh guys would stop beating us we’d be winning 6 nations titles too!

      Also, I’d like to address your comments about AB opportunities. First and foremost, its all nonsense. Let’s see, Taylor, Cruden and Barritt have all never started a game when Dan Carter has been fit. So you claiming the ABs give game time to them through choice is nonsense. Weepu’s form was awful, a shambles. So yes young players were brought through. Launchbury, Tuilagi, Farrell, Wade, Yarde – even Lawes and Youngs to an extent, are very young players all given opportunity, none of which have been through injury. All through selection choices. There are probably more but I feel like the point has been made.

  27. Geat

    I’m NOT so sure ‘South Africa are probably the only team that go into a game against New Zealand not only confident they *can* win, but actually *expecting* to win’.

    ‘Losing 3-0 away to New Zealand will not instantly make us the worse team in the world’, is right. England are 4th.

  28. Author: brightyComment:Classic NZ fan doublespeak:

    Bit defensive ol’ bean, but you’re reframing what I’m saying. An old trick.

    All matches are important to NZ of course. However, ask any NZer who their arch enemy is & I’m pretty sure they’ll tell you it’s SA. Thus, whom do you think the AB’s are really up for? No brainer really.

    The AI’s are less so in that they/I expect NZ to win them. Don’t you?

    Get rid of the chip shop off each shoulder.

    PS Talking opinion, wasn’t 1 of yr’s surely the longest blog in history? The gloomy Wales 1.


  29. Don P

    The non selection of those playing outside england is not due to distance but contractual obligations and players not being released as required as far as I know? I think that may help answer your point re Armitage

  30. So in effect Don, what you meant to say, was yes, it took injury and sabbatical for these young men to get game time. They were picked ahead of other capped players, but not starters. And Gear and Ranger are both now in France, and much like England, NZ doesn’t pick overseas players.

    You slate England for not doing it, but you only have to look at the age range of the England players at the moment to see just how much have been done. New players given a shot under Lancaster: M.Vunipola, T. Youngs, H. Thomas, J. Launchbury, G. Parling, B. Vunipola, M. Kvesic, B. Morgan, L. Dickson, O. Farrell, F. Burns, M. Yarde, B. Twelvetrees, B.Barritt, K. Eastmond, J. Tomkins, D. May, C. Wade, A. Goode

    I’d point out that’s not a full list. But what it is, is a list of almost exclusively young players, and more importantly, more than a full XV, a lot of whom are starters. It also doesn’t include guys who’ve made the senior squad and not yet been capped. That’s in 2 full years at the helm.

    We’ll see you in the summer, I’d expect NZ to win all 3 games, but I believe all 3 will be close.

  31. Stu

    Ok thnks, altho I don’t believe SL rated Armitage, due to comments regds fitness, distance etc. If there was a will…?

  32. Dan

    Do you know Brighty? Reframing what I said.

    No NZ don’t pick from o/seas, but 13,000 miles to Euro (or Jpn etc) is a bit further than France is from England. And most Kiwi players aren’t o/seas anyway. They generally go abroad IF they can’t get into the ABs. Is this exactly the case with England? (The trend may be a future issue). The pt I was trying to make was that SL seemed to be creating unnecessary obstacles e.g. restricting himself in principle by NOT picking players just because the weren’t IN England/UK? I may be wrong, but I understand the IRB give presidence to It’nal over club games. And also by chucking out older guys whether they warranted a place or not (as it seemed with Easter at the time). And as you know Brad Thorne played in the WC @ 36… an exception, but a pivotal 1. I personally rated Armitage over Robshaw who is STILL playing out of position btw. It’s as much mindset for me as just stats as these can sometimes be manipulated.

    When I look thru the England squad, yes, guys, like Kvesic, Slater, Webber, Launchbury, the Vunipolas, Burrell, Eastmond, Ford, Nowell, Watson, Wade, Yarde, 12trees(?) are newish (or mostly younger), but most haven’t played for England yet. When/will they? Matt Mullan’s another new guy (I don’t think he’s that young, altho I don’t have the incl/time to check just now), altho he appears to heve been around for some time. Will he get a go? Esp with Corbis likely finished??

    Whereas NZ have given new guys a run in big games (for whatever reason… & I don’t entirely buy into your Carter being injured/on sabbatical view either), but they will all be exp by the WC… & perhaps that’s underlying pt/diff here? Will this be the case with any of the aforementioned ‘new’ England guys?

    Presonally, I think SL can’t wait to revert to the Tua/Barritt axis in midfield & will retain Farrell @ fly1/2, so when will others get a look in. The 6N? The NZ tour? Maybe, but will he have a backline ready for the WC which can do a bit more than bosh & defend v the SH? Even if new wingers get a run, will they see any ball?

    These are ?’s which are perhaps more over riding & to the pt rather than having a youngish team… on paper.

    But think what you will, as I’ve said before, the Kiwi tour will likely (or it may not?) reveal more in real terms than the semantics or whose ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ about this Engalnd team.

    Nart mean?

    1. Personally I rate Afoa and Haymen (maybe not the 2014 vintage, but certainly 2011 vintage) over Franks. Not many people would say Donald is a better fly half than Evans. Don’t think it’s accurate to portray this as the only ABs that head overseas for $$$ are ones who can’t get another cap, SBW couldn’t be kept in the sport, let alone the country.

      Having a home based player policy isn’t about the distance the player will have to travel to come back for international duty, it’s about supporting the countries domestic game. Given the wage disparity it’s helping keeping the brakes on player migration. It’s one of Lancaster’s/RFU’s better decisions and I hope they stick with it.

      Comparing the AB and England situation regarding capping youth is ridiculous. 959 caps in the side that took on England:


      Nobody in the England 6N squad has more than 50 caps and only 2 players 30 or over.


      So remind me again, which side has the policy of selecting youth?

  33. Pontylad

    Thnks… & yes I have been in the odd d/pour before ko @ the M Stadium, but mostly it’s been ok.

    Still liked Peel & Hook… but you ought to know these guys better than me… but I still…!

    Best o’ luck in the 6N… could be an interesting 1?

  34. Of the fourteen you name, four have only just been called up last week, and nine have been capped. Mullan is perhaps fourth choice loose head, perhaps fifth, he came back due to a lot of injuries, the AB’s seemed to experience similar at fly half recently.

    As to oversea players, only Steffon could likely make the side, even then maybe not starting. England lose very few internationals to France, most retire there after retiring from international service.

  35. You may be right re armitage I don’t think SL rates him although I can’t understand why. It seems that for all the young players coming through we are losing a spine of experience with his policy I.e. easter flood which I hope doesn’t have a negative impact come a big tour/WC.

  36. Matt

    Don’t follow yr pts re Afoa, Haymen over Franks or Donald being better than Evans?

    £ Bill, was NEVER 1st choice for the ABs. Didn’t feature in the last WC. Altho 1/2 NZ seemed to love the show pony, for me he was too 1 dimentional & a bit dim (@ Canterbury chucked a few too many balls to no when tackled) . More about tats, h/cuts, boxing & self commitment than to his team. Lacked integrity, walked on the B’dogs. Better to trust a politician. He’s a ‘rolling stone’, a ‘horse with no name’ with ‘no direction home’… but apart from all that, no doubt a diamond geezer.

    Regds ‘home based player policy not (being) about the distance the player will have to travel to come back for international duty, it’s about supporting the countries domestic game’; well the reality is that it’s a pro game like it or not & players have short job spans with morgages & the milkman to pay, so some will likely travel. Esp if it’s only to France… & perhaps more esp if they don’t get picked for someone who is playing out of posi! Additionally it seems to me that distance DOES have some impact. It’s surely harder for SH players to nip over to Euro than local ‘players’ as the latter can nip back to Blighty (opps!) more easily if required. The SH guys either make it I’nationally 1st (to command higher salaries I’d guess) or get spotted early when ‘fringing’ on their nationl side, e.g. Fritz Lee. Where the Welsh likely go (?), so follow others? Gatland has less choice in reality, but lancs seems somewhat blinkered in forseeing the future… but time will tell.

    I may be wrong, but £ will always have an impact & we have to live with it I’m afraid. At least that’s how I see things.

    In respect of ‘Comparing the AB and England situation regarding capping youth (being) ridiculous’, I think you miss the pt a bit… generally the NZ players (Barrett, A. Smith etc) get GAME time esp in the R. Ch’ship & will be (even are ?) exp in their posi’s & importantly with superior skill sets by the time of the nxt WC. IMO NZ id key skilled players better & encourage & nationally foster these skills in the game. Whilst you pt to ‘battalions of yoof’ in the England squad, how many of them will have cemented spots before 2015? SL’s picking them for a squad is, er… just picking them for a squad. And it’s trying to pick the wheat from the chaff, e.g. 12trees, Tompkins? Besides NZ have the cap no. you mention because they transition these players into the team more systematically & over a longer period, so guys like Dagg, Savea & Retallic, altho not having been ABs for a m. yrs, are nonetheless pretty exp now. And as I see it, they’ve got replacements lined up for McCaw (Kane, Todd, Luatua), Carter (Cruden, Barrett), & (arguably) C. Smith (B. smith), 3 (30+) pivots in the ABs IMO. Presumably, partly because not all/any will nec make the WC due to injury, wear & tear. You may say SL has only been there 2 yrs or so, but why is he still fiddling whilst his moribund midfield is burning with Tua & Barritt? It shouldn’t take 5 mins to spot that FUNDAMENTAL flaw! He’s talking building, midfield combos! It’s not the combo’s that’s the problem, it’s the lack of TRY scoring abilty FCOL! If he’s picked so much ‘yoof’, get ’em into that b/line & for a start, coach ’em to run STRAIGHT!

    You concentrate too much on stats & minutiae methinks & misread the real issues regrds just youth.

    1. Don, No doubt the ABs are doing a great job of succession planning and giving game time to young players. Probably Hansen’s biggest strength thus far is how he’s continuing to evolve the team. I understand your point, but you can’t compare this however to the current England situation. The ABs are trying out new options within the context of being able to pick the most experienced team in their history, England are trying to find a team out of a pool of relatively experienced players.

      The reasons England are needing to do this is another issue, but you look at the facts (not stats) Lancaster is bringing in and trying a lot of young players. There are a few that he has held onto and capped too many times (e.g. Goode and Ashton). As his belief is he needs to get a core of players with 50-60 caps to take to the RWC I can forgive him being a little reluctant to keep starting again with the team being so new.

      The Afoa/Hayman Vs Franks & Evans Vs Donald point was just to highlight it isn’t only ABs that have been ousted by a superior player that head overseas for a pension. The ABs will not select superior overseas options over inferior home based ones, because they want to support the domestic game. Exactly the same as Lancaster/RFU are doing. So selecting Armitage (who could possibly add something to the EPS, but only be available within IRB test windows) would do more harm than good in the long run as more players would ask to be selected from abroad, specifically France where the club S&C work seems to be largely inferior.

      Finding a style of play, coaching (and selecting) to a gameplan etc, yes we have issues in the backs. But we’ve now got an excellent and well balanced pack, with have 2 or 3 good options in almost every position. Hopefully over the course of this year we’ll develop a backup at 10, a functioning centre partnership and a threatening back 3.

  37. So when Nz do it, its spotted talent, and when it’s England it’s just throwing a squad together. Righto.

    The English backs have been devastated by injury and rather than throw an entirely new backline in they’ve tried to fill in some gaps whilst relying on experience elsewhere. Where we get in trouble is that instead of now having two new wingers with some caps we’re back to novices. Which then means you don’t want untested players inside of them. Hopefully we’ll have had a chance to get some new hopefuls a few caps, though they’ll probably get injured after 10 mins.

    1. “So when Nz do it, its spotted talent, and when it’s England it’s just throwing a squad together. Righto. ” – Spot on, that is Don’s world. When NZ do anything it’s right. When anyone else does it they’re either wrong or lamely copying NZ. Welcome to the world of NZ fan worship – a place where saying you only lost because you were ill is not whining, ever, because see, you really were ill. So if for example I say Wales only lost because we were off form or had players missing then it’s not moaning, it’s a fact. It’s brilliant because it means that whenever you lose you can blame it on something else and still take the high ground of trying to pretend you’re not a bad loser.

  38. stu

    It’s a balancing act I know, but I just don’t see SL having got it right. That’s why I queried e.g. why he ignored Armitage (whom I admire). I haven’t seen enuff of the guy to be totally objective, but from what I did see, he got hold of oppo ball @ br’down & held on to it like a limpet & or stole it, likewise securing possession of his own team’s ball when they had it, like no other. I didn’t esp want to labour SA’s sit, but it seemed SL was putting an unnecessary barrier up regds A. To me it was the wrong mindset (which is the pt), esp as SA was an hr away… & surely In’tals contractually have presidence over club games for players?

    Anyway, stricter, more rigid types hold a diff view. But ‘does this outlook hold England back?’ could be a question they might ask… IMO.

  39. Dan

    Right. Or rather, you’re being defensive surely?

    Mind you, there’s 1 bright spot, you’ve got a fan in Brighty (sorry)!

    But I think NZ currently have integrated guys like Barrett (fell over v SA @ Ellis, but got back on the horse to score @ the death), better than England. They get big game time in vital matches like the aforementioned.

    I’m sorry if you (mis?)construe my views as being an NZ lover, but I’m coming from a posi of having for yrs been deluged by former players/media about England having the most £, players, H Cup bring the ‘real thing’ & the Prem League ‘being the best in the world (Ritcie’s too scared to play in it) etc, etc… when England are 4th(!) in the world (notwithstanding that @ least 1 punter thinking they’re not relevent, apparantly on the back of a win v Oz last up?!).

    NZ are No. 1 in the rankings for a reason… they win more games (@ present) than other teams & IMO, DO play smarter basic rugby @ speed & with better option taking – under pressure. For me it’s in their coaching to & picking pivotal players who stay calm to fulfill these requirements within a well drilled, disciplined squad.

    But there’s no reason that England shoudn’t be in this posi, with all their ritches, other than limited thinking from their caoches/m’g’ment?

    Well that’s how I see it, but others maybe miss the pt, or I’m not so articulate that it translates this way, but we all have diff opions I guess.

    G’luck tho in the 6N.

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  41. Preeto

    You talking to me?

    If you are thanks. The incoming flack from other NH types makes you(?) a minority.

    Me, I’m just a blogger & have searched out a couple of rugger sites as an interest in the game only, esp as the All Blacks site is (still?) down.

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