England squad to tour Argentina


England today named 11 uncapped players in their squad for this summer’s Barbarians game and three-match tour to Uruguay and Argentina. The squad is as follows:

Forwards (18)
Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby, 2 caps)
Rob Buchanan (Harlequins, uncapped)
Calum Clark (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
Alex Corbisiero (London Irish, 18 caps)
Paul Doran Jones (Northampton Saints, 4 caps)
Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs, 5 caps)
Matt Kvesic (Worcester Warriors, uncapped)
Joe Launchbury (London Wasps, 9 caps)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 20 caps)
Joe Marler (Harlequins, 10 caps)
Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby, 10 caps)
David Paice (London Irish, 6 caps)
Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers, uncapped)
Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks, uncapped)
Billy Vunipola (London Wasps, uncapped)
Rob Webber (Bath Rugby, 3 caps)
David Wilson (Bath Rugby, 26 caps)
Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, captain, 18 caps)

Backs (14)
Mike Brown (Harlequins, 16 caps)
Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby, 1 cap)
Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints, 7 caps)
Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby, uncapped)
Ben Foden (Northampton Saints, 30 caps)
Alex Goode (Saracens, 11 caps)
Jonathan Joseph (London Irish, 4 caps)
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, uncapped)
David Strettle (Saracens, 13 caps)
Joel Tomkins (Saracens, uncapped)
Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby, 4 caps)
Christian Wade (London Wasps, uncapped)
Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens, 12 caps)
Marland Yarde (London Irish, uncapped)

England – minus the players from the Aviva Premiership final the previous day – are taking on the Barbarians at Twickenham Stadium on May 26 before playing a CONSUR XV, representing the South American nations, in Montevideo, Uruguay, on June 2, and then Tests against Argentina in Salta (June 8) and Buenos Aires (June 15).

Captained by Northampton Saints’ Tom Wood, the group includes five players who are 21 or under, the youngest of whom is London Wasps No.8 Billy Vunipola, who represented England Under 20s last year.

England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster said: “We’re really looking forward to this tour and we’ve selected a young and exciting side which I’m sure will do the country proud in a tough series of matches.

“The key principles in selection were threefold: first and foremost to win the games but also to develop strength in depth and more options in certain positions, and to give one or two players a physical and mental break.

“We feel we’ve got the balance right and have given places to a number of players who have shone in the Aviva Premiership this season, one or two who have been on the fringes for a while, and several players who have been involved over the last year or so. This is everyone’s chance to step up.

“Tom Wood will captain the side and I am sure he will do a fantastic job, as he has the respect of all the players and management and we are looking forward to other leaders developing in the absence of some senior players.

“A few are being rested after a hard campaign but they will, of course, be considered by the British & Irish Lions should they be required.”

Players rested include Chris Robshaw, Danny Care (both Harlequins), Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), Brad Barritt and Chris Ashton (both Saracens). Anthony Allen (Leicester Tigers) and James Haskell (London Wasps) were not considered on medical grounds.

What do you make of the team? Who are the notable omissions and who is lucky to be there?

112 thoughts on “England squad to tour Argentina

  1. Quite disappointed that Will Fraser and Elliot Daly are excluded!? Are there reasons for them two or just not selected? Also no Joe Gray is slightly surprising, obviously edged out by fellow Quins player Buchanan.

    Relatively happy but could have been more excited. I want to see a lot of Wade on tour. A Wade, May, Brown/ Foden back three is pretty exciting in my book!

    I personally would have left Goode at home and taken Daly. Really not a fan of Goode and we do not need three full backs, baring in mind Daly can cover there. I’m not sure who I’d take out to get Fraser in there but I’d have found a way if I was SL.

    1. My guess is that Lancaster doesn’t see him as a 15 and neither do I, has made some real howlers this season. So if he is only to be considered as 13, he has had little game time there to prove his case, and with Joseph already being in the EPS and Tomkins playing regularly at 13 for Sarries, I could see why SL went for them. Fraser is a bit unlucky, but seeing as TJ and Clark were already in the EPS it is not too surprising.

      1. To be fair I can’t think of any howlers from Daly, but that doesn’t mean you are wrong. He is just such a talent, he is so quick and has a huge boot. Would have been nice to see him in there over the ever-dull Goode (in my opinion). And I can see why Fraser has not been selected, I just wish he was. He has obviously decided that Kvesic deserves his chance this summer, and we can’t really get them both tested down there so I can see the reasoning.

    2. Frase has recently picked up an injury that requires surgery. It’s a real shame because he’s been on fantastic form.

  2. Just realised no Joe Simpson as well! That is the biggest surprise to me! Such a talent, and particularly behind a pack that does not dominate.

    Looking at it again I’m actually quite dissatisfied with the selection.

    1. i agree that Simpson and Daly are oversights.

      Daly has probably been undone by a) this regieme seem to have invested themselves in JJ, and dont just want to chuck him out yet (IMO Daly is a like for like player) and b) His versatility has possibly cost him. He has bounced around from 13, 11, 14 and 15 this season for Wasps. If he had a single position, then i think he would be able to stake more of a claim.

      Personally i would have swapped JJ for Daly. I think that Elliot has had a better season, and he has played more rugby. Also he brings the added dimension of his kicking. If they have any games at altitude, then Daly could probably knock one over from about 60m.

      Simpson has possibly lost out because Wigglesworth is a game manager at 9, and he will help guide the young 10s.

      As Dazza said, Frazer picked up a knock, so wont tour. i would have expected him to take TJ’s spot if fit.

      1. Generally agree with all of your points here Simo. I can see the reasoning behind wanting an experienced 9 next to Burns, but it is harsh on Simpson.

        I think I did ask in an earlier post if Fraser was not chosen or not selected for another reason. I agree he would be in there over TJ is fit.

        1. agree that it is harsh on simpson. i am a big fan of his, but i guess wigglesworth can also cover 10 in an emergency. (but i would look to 36 and Goode first)

  3. Wigglesworth over Simpson is criminal in my opinion. Simpson is quality and always looks dangerous, even behind a pack that doesn’t always dominate. Wigglesworth looks pedestrian behind a pack that always does.

    No Fraser or Daly is a huge disappointment as well, but then I suppose you have to leave a few of the older pros in there. Anyone else noticed (as pointed out by Expat Chief on Twitter) that there is only one out and out fly-half?

    1. The more I look at this selection, the more I think that SL has lost his mind. Only one fly half, Wrigglesworth over Simpson (and only two 9’s), yet three full backs? And is four wings necessary in such a small squad with Brown and Foden effectively making it six wingers, seven if you count Eastmond.

      Very bizarre.

        1. Very thin. Particularly with 8 back three players! That’s a lot! Will they all find game time?

          Am I counting right in saying only four flankers? Kvesic, Wood, Johnson and Clarke? Would probably have fit Fraser in based on that.

          1. it is likely that we will see Goode and 12Ts sharing the 10 cover role. Both have played there in the prem. Also with Goode filling that role, it opens the chances for Brown and Foden to fightout the 15 shirt.

            Eastmond also has the potential to play 10, but i think he will be travelling as an option at 12. and wigglesworth has played 10 before too, so i actually think that the halfbacks are relatively well covered.

            With regards to the flankers, yes there are only 4, but Launchbury, Slater and Lawes (although after the france game he shouldnt) can all cover 6.

            after all, this is a 3 game tour, and we are taking 4 locks, 4 flankers and 2 8’s. The lions are taking only a couple more players on a 10 match tour…

      1. Of the 10s he could’ve brought, with Flood rested, there was only Burns and Ford. I think he wants Burns to start all three games, which would then mean a waste of Ford’s time when he could be getting much needed conditioning with Bath. If there was an injury to Burns, then Ford would probably fly out, but with 36 having played 10 a number of times for Tigers and for Gloucester, he will be the back up. Think Lancaster would rather have Twelvetrees than Ford at 10 in a test match vs Pumas.

        1. Good points. Time for Burns to step up then, could really assert himself as part of England’s future if he plays well in all the games.

  4. Interesting squad. As a Harlequins fan, bit disappointed to see no Joe Gray or George Robson or George Lowe, but still. Not sure we will actually beat Argentina, but it’s a good team. Can do well?

    XVs anyone?

    1. I’ll have a go:

      1. Corbisiero
      2. Webber
      3. Wilson
      4. Launchbury
      5. Lawes
      6. Wood
      7. Kvesic
      8. Morgan
      9. Dickson (should be Simpson)
      10. Burns
      11. May
      12. Twelvetrees
      13. Tomkins
      14. Wade
      15. Brown/ Foden

    2. Corbisiero

      Buchanan, Marler, Thomas, Attwood, Vunipola, W’Worth, Eastmond, Foden

  5. Presume they want Burns to play 3 full games and went with Dickson and Wigglesworth as they wanted a little more experience in one of the HB roles, to give Burns the best opportunity to state his case. Rather that than have an even more inexperienced 9 (Simpson) putting him under pressure…

    Just a guess mind

  6. I agree with the rest – No Simpson, Daly or Fraser is just bonkers! Almost as bonkers as including Alex Goode who is just AWFUL! Can’t catch, tackle, pass or run – why exactly is he in the team?!

    1. Obviously he is so awful he is the first choice full back for the Premiership leaders, and only Prem team to get to the HC semi-finals. He must be really awful!!!!
      Do you watch any premiership rugby? He may not be your usual style of full back, but he has good boot, great step, good vision, and great hands. He may be a ball busting runner but he knows how to create space for other people to come onto. Given better ball to play with he can work wonders.

      1. I half agree. Very good Premiership player; but for me not an international player. I think saying he could work wonders goes massively over the top.

        He needs to be faster on foot, and I can’t forget the five on one he butchered in the six nations against Italy. That from out second playmaker is just not good enough. I’m not normally one to dwell on one phase of play and slate a player, but I think he is guilty of it on a few occasions, this being the most prominent in my mind!

      2. To be fair Dazza, this is the Goode who managed to blow a 6 on 2 overlap during the 6Ns.

        He looked ponderous. He tried to dance around too much that a) it is impossible to run lines off of him and b) he slows up, so is likely to be dominated in the contact.

        I will however say that defensively his positioning is excellent, and he does have a good boot. but with the options at 12 (36 and Eastmond) the need for him at 15 (to be a 2nd ball player) is lessened. Especially if you can get the Burns/36 partnership flowing.

        Personally, Goode would sit on the bench for me this tour, at best.

  7. Think the criticism of Goode is a little harsh, when he came on in SA he looked a class act and always has time on the ball.

    He did struggle a little in the 6N but honestly it’s because I think Eng. haven’t quite worked out how to utilise his unique talents.

    Admittedly though, at 15, he does lack half a yard of gas.

  8. Only one Fly-Half in Burns? I guess they want to give him as much game time as they can.

  9. I reckon this is finally Calum Clarks opportunity to stand up and show what a good asset he would be to the England team, few players can match the passion he show’s in matches and now he has learnt to control it he could end up being a key player.

    1. He’s not going to start ahead of Wood though, is he? And I really hope they don’t shift Wood over to 7 and start Clark, as we saw what happened to Wood when he was moved out of position in the 6N. Wood as captain from 6 could be the future for England.

      1. Did Wood not start out as a 7? And I know he plays there quite regularly for Saints. I personally think he is going to be Englands 7 with Croft at 6 working towards the world cup. So I can actually see that happening in Argentina.

        1. Wood started as a 6 at Worcester, but moved to 7 for saints. Clark on the other hand started as a 7 at Leeds, and moved to 6 while at saints.

          Both of them could work quite well in tandem.

          Kvesic would be my choice at 7 though, a genuine openside and a very promising prospect.

  10. Sorry – but I refuse to accept that any criticism of Goode (as long as it’s performance based and not personal) is unfair. Take the NZ game – yes he stepped Carter who had stupidly run up too quickly – then what did he do when faced with 2 defenders (both forwards) with three men outside him – did he draw and pass? No – he ran away from his support back into traffic. Then look at his stats in the 6N and the Autumn Internationals – I think against Scotland alone he missed 6 tackles and that was a game we won! Missing tackles isn’t down to how we utilise his unique talents! He’s unique talent is that he runs sideways, doesn’t have good vision, can’t catch a high ball, can’t tackle, can’t run, gives poor passes, stops running when he gets to a defender OH BUT WAIT he can kick the ball out of hand a fair way. Brilliant. If anything, it’s not how England played that didn’t suit Goode – it’s how he played that didn’t suit Ashton, Brown or anyone else in the backline. He did nothing against SA other than just stand on the other side of the scrum to Flood – which actually just meant we were easier to read defensively.
    If i’m wrong – someone please tell me why or how (rather than you just think I am) because I am BAFFLED as to how he get’s in the side – especially when you look at the alternatives we have at 15 – Foden, Brown, Daly, May, Armitage, Abendanon, Homer etc etc!

    1. I think you are being a little harsh. His positioning is fantastic, and he is actually very good under a high ball. But I do agree that he should be nowhere near the Test team.

      He is too slow; and by that I mean speed of mind as much as speed of footwork.

      Especially with players like Eastmond and Twevletrees in midfield, this whole need for a second playmaker is lessoned.

      To summise, Goode is a good player and has a good skill set; but is too slow to play internationally.

    2. I’m with Jacob, he does have a number of very good skills, but defensively he has not been quite there.

      I think he makes up for his lack of top rate speed with speed of thought and his footwork is actually very good, he usually beats or gets beyond the first man, but it is true he doesn’t have the speed to really capitalise at the top level and make the most of half breaks.

      Agree that he is not a necessary starter if 36 is at 12 and Brown should finally get a shot at his preferred 15 slot.

      1. Goode was a constant source of amusement at my local during the 6 nations.

        Whenever he received a high ball he tried to run it back (slowly), would do exactly the same little stutter-step every time (kike watching a slow-motion Jason Robinson)and then get buried in the tackle because he’d fooled exactly no-one.

        To me, he adds little and may even drag the team down as his supposed “second-playmaker” skill allows Lancaster to select a non-passing 12 in Barritt rather than a playmaker 12 like 12T

        The moment he butchered an over-lap vs Italy that any 10 year-old rugby player would have been embarrased at, should have been his last in an England shirt

        1. you and your drinking buddies have hit the nail on the head regarding Goode’s little “routine”. and what makes it worse is that, not only does he not beat people, but he also makes it hard for wingers to run lines off of him, because he is too busy dancing around.

          in regards to your other comment: Fortunately Barritt has been rested “in case the lions come calling”. But the reality is, that i think (excluding robshaw) the lions has given SL a nice opportunity to drop some players, but say they are resting. If the youngsters dont make the grade, then he simply brings back those that were rested and it looks normal. But if the young lads step up to the mark, then they are the incumbents and will have “credit in the bank” so he can afford to leave out the rested players. It is a nice little situation, because if the plan fails then we simply revert back to the old plan. if the new way works, then we are one step closer to the way SL promised we would be playing.

          I am slightly confused as to why Care has been rested. I think that this should have been the perfect opportunity for him to have a shot at the 9 shirt without Youngs being there. And he is not one of the “older ones” who i was referring to earlier.

    3. Think he’s got a great rugby brain (reads the game very well, great defensive positioning for the high ball and decent vision), but he’s not a good enough athlete to be a top class 15. I think he would have made a better FH.

      If he plays at fullback in the tests (at the expense of Brown) and Brown then stays on the wing (at the expense of someone like May), then I don’t us making much progress in increasing the potency of the back 3.

  11. Are you telling me that outside of Farrell and Flood the only 10s we have are Burns and Ford? I think its crazy to take just 1 fh. Couldnt we have taken Botica if Ford is being given ANOTHER summer off. Will Ford ever make it I wonder?

    Agree that Daly is an odd omission. I would have him over strettle. His boot couldve been very handy.

    1. fair point that Botica could have been an option.

      In fairness, outside of the 5 you named, are there actually any decent young english 10’s in the Prem?

      Putting the decent comment to the side, Cipriani isnt going to be fit to travel.

      So who else is left?

      Tommy Bell

      Andy Goode and Hodgson are both too old.

      Would you want to take any of those other 5 names, or would you just look to someone like 36 or Goode? i know i would just play one of them instead of taking another.

      1. I also thought Steenson could have been in with a shout? Been on good form for Exeter.

        1. i wasnt sure whether he had committed to england or ireland yet, so i didnt go for him. but he would definitely be more on the level with Botica than the others, if he is willing to play for england.

    2. Good point re Ford having another summer off – he has actually looked a worse player this season I think. What would the harm have been in taking him on tour to give him some experience of the environment, and gel him into the squad with his future teammates? Surely he doesn’t need to bulk up anymore, it certainly doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference to his game this season, other than completely screwing up his goalkicking.

      And I’m a Tigers fan.

  12. So only Burns as fly half with presumably Goode or 12T as cover. Shame Fraser picked up his injury when he did, otherwise I’m sure he would have been in the squad too. Looking forward to see Tomkins and 12T’s together as I think they could be a very good centre partnership. Two big centres with good vision and hands to keep the opposition guessing.
    1. Corbisiero
    2. Buchanan
    3. Wilson
    4. Launchbury
    5. Slater
    6. Wood
    7. Kvesic
    8. Morgan
    9. Wigglesworth
    10. Burns
    11. May
    12. 12T’s
    13. Tomkins
    14. Wade
    15. Brown

    16. Webber
    17. Marler
    18. Thomas
    19. Lawes
    20. Vunipola
    21. Dickson
    22. Goode
    23. Eastmond

    Was tempted to put Clark at 6 and Wood at 7, but I think Kvesic has worked some wonders in a team with very little go forward ball and plays in a similar style to Fraser. Lawes on the bench can cover lock and flanker which leaves space for Big Billy on the bench. A great impact player off the bench when the Argies are getting tired. Goode and Eastmond together could cover the whole back line apart from SH. Lancaster has picked some very versatile players, and this is a very exciting squad. Maybe a bit short of specialist players in the FH position, but with Goode and 12T’s in the squad, I think it’s covered.
    I suspect Lancaster may pick Strettle on the left wing because of experience, but I would go with May.

    1. i pretty much agree with your team entirely. I wonder if maybe Lawes would start over Slater, because of experience. And Dickson has been in the EPS over Wigglesworth, so logically he should start at 9 (but you have probably got it right).

      I agree with you, and most others, that i would like to see Tomkins at 13, and Eastmond on the bench. However this brings up a big issue in my mind. in the 6Ns JJ was leapfrogged by 12Ts. if he is now overtaken by those two, then what was the point in selecting him at all? we should have just gone with Daly, to give him more time in the england set up.

      1. Unfortunately for Joseph he got injured, and has been playing in a team with little confidence and has struggled as a result. I also think Lancaster likes a good defensive midfield and Tomkins and 12T’s provide that more than Joseph, as well as good vision going forward. Eastmond off the bench is a good one because he could play anywhere across the line. He has that ability to adapt and just play rugby.

        1. i did think he was injured at some point. but even so, he seems to have not really delivered for england, and his chances have be reduced even further. if he is leapfrogged by 2 more centres, then you have to wonder why they have selected him.

          he is versatile (played 13, wing and 15 for irish this year), but that is wasted if they arent even going to put him on the bench.

    2. Does Tomkins have any pace? Would worry that 36 and Tomkins might be a bit slow to trouble the top defences.

      1. He is a rangy runner, deceptively quick, but also has a great offloading game which could help bring May and Wade into the game, and we all know Wades ability to finish from anywhere!

          1. Tomkins is the main reason Ashton joined Sarries. Not just because they’re best mates, but because he knows what he can do with the ball in hand, and anyone playing off his shoulder has a good chance of getting the ball in space.

    3. Good team! If Launchbury isn’t fully recharged (he’s been well down on his early season performances of late) then I wouldn’t be adverse to his workload being managed and having a bench impact role.

      Don’t mind which hooker starts, think they are pretty close, but glad Buchanan has got the nod ahead of Gray.

      I think I would like to see JJ and Tomkins have a game each at 13. We got a few glimpses of what JJ can offer in SA so would like to see a bit more to find out if he is a keeper or not. Plus JJ is quick enough to play on the wing, include him in the backline and we have real gas in every position from 10 out.

  13. Thought PDJ might be lacking a bit to face Argentina, but otherwise front row looks as solid as it can be. Rest of the forwards pretty much as expected but agree on Fraser. Just goes to show how hard it is to get into the England team! At least SL has gone for an exciting backline. Will give some of these players a chance to shine and push on and maybe a chance for some to show that they can’t cut it and stop the debate on whether they should be picked! Eastmond, Tomkins, Yarde, Wade and May all on display! Mouth watering.

    1. PDJ is likely to be the 3rd choice TH, after Wilson and Thomas, who were both training in the EPS during the 6Ns.

      As for Frazer, he is injured and requiring surgery, so the call was pretty much made for SL.

      the forwards look like a good bunch, from what was left (7 of our 10 lions were forwards, Steven the only one not in the EPS). We are missing
      Robshaw being rested just adds to those missing.

      It should be very interesting how things go. if Kvesic has an outstanding tour, then Robshaw could be in some trouble.

  14. Goode does indeed play for the team who finished top of the league – but he isn’t always first choice and obviously didn’t play for Sarries during the 6 Nations or Autumn internationals and Wyles tends to get preferred for the big games. He’s obviously not completely useless and does have a big boot and yes against Ireland his positioning to receive kicks was good – but just look at the form guide, too many missed tackles, not set up any tries, wasted good opportunities – shouldn’t be picked. Especially when you look at the other options. Brown really deserves a shot at 15 but for me, Foden is better. Lancaster just seemed loathe to change a winning team and I can’t blame him for that. It was the same with Tom Johnson – his injury was timed nicely as he was going to get dropped anyway but should really have been dropped before but Lancaster doesn’t like to change things too much. I guess it’s the pressure of the job – but hopefully he will grow in confidence and grow in support within the RFU that he won’t get sacked for the first mistake he makes. This is the same guy who said when he got the job that he wanted 2 ball playing Centers and for the most part, we’ve seen one who can run and one who can defend and none who can pass – hopefully this tour will change that. I agree Tomkins isn’t fast but I’d still give him a shot along with the others (36, JJ, Eastmond). Ford shouldn’t be in there as he hasn’t been playing much lately plus he’g going to go to Bath and go from second string to England’s 2nd choice 10 to second string to Scotland’s 2nd choice 10 (Heathcote) – not a great career move engineered by Daddy!

    1. I completely disagree with you on the pecking order at Sarries. Goode is undoubtabley their first choice 15. He has played in all of their big games. E.g. Heineken cup final and semi finals.

      Also, during the autumn and 6N games when Wyles played, their tends to be LV Cup games – which is by design in the schedule.

      In saying that, I do think that Goode should be third choice full back, but I think you’re wrong to suggest he is a terrible player, because he is not.

  15. Why does everybody rave about Joe Marler? Nick Wood at Gloucester a far better prop and why not Rob Cook of Gloucester probably the best under the high ball and he is quick.

      1. Play better?

        Seriously, Nick Wood has been around for a long time and never really made the grade at Saxons level, let alone looking like he can cut it a level up. For me, he doesn’t offer anything beyond a bit of solidity in the scrum

        Marler is only 23, so a baby in prop terms. This tour should be all about development. What better place than Argentina for a prop to learn some lessons?

        PS – I know this argument could be used against Wilson as well, but even he is younger than Wood and our tight-head prop options are limited

        1. A prop who can’t scrummage is like a hooker who can’t throw into the line out or a scrum half who has a poor pass – who cares how good they are “around the field” – Wood vs. Bath last year showed what he can do in the loose with ball in hand and he wa picked to play vs. South Africa a few years back but got injured in the warm ups. Why keep selecting him at Saxon level if there is no intention of putting in the 1st team? Better to blood some young players at Saxon level I would have thought?

          1. “A prop who can’t scrummage is like a hooker who can’t throw into the line out or a scrum half who has a poor pass” – well the lions took Tom Youngs and Mike Phillips… :S

            in all seriousness though. I think that the england management have the same view as you, regarding your comment of “Why keep selecting him at Saxon level if there is no intention of putting in the 1st team? Better to blood some young players at Saxon level I would have thought?” Because Wood wasnt actually in the Saxons. the last EPS announcement had Marler, Corbs, Mako, Cole and Wilson in the EPS. Mullan, Catt, Doran-Jones and Thomas were the props in the Saxons. Clearly Nick Wood has been deemed not to cut the mustard at the top level, and too old to keep “developing” in the Saxons.

          2. I don’t think Nick Wood is in the Saxons squad and hasn’t been for a year or two

            Marler can scrum, he held his own in SA and does well for Quins(remember watching him destroy PDJ not so long ago)

            He did get whupped by 2 of the world’s best scrummagers in Jones and Mas during the 6 Nations. (As did Cole by Jenkins and Domingo BTW)

            He’ll get there but the only way to do so is against the top guys. Argentina is the best place for him

            If he does and can also play round the field for England as he does for Quins, then England will have three excellent, young loose-heads in Corbisiero, Marler and Vunipola who can all go on to earn many caps. What a great situation to be in!

  16. Matt if he did indeed have a great rugby brain, read the game very well and have decent vision, he wouldn’t have wasted a situation of 4 backs against 2 forwards, he wouldn’t run into the opposition, he would put in great tactical kicks rather than aimless high ones that no one can get under. He wouldn’t have wasted opportunities against lesser rugby nations like Italy and Fiji and he would “position” himself better to make tackles. I urge you to watch him more closely and tell me what he does better than Foden, Brown or Armitage to name 3.
    WHATEVER anyone thinks of him, I’m sure you will ALL agree there are better options at 15 for England

    1. I’m no member of the Goode fan club! I don’t think he should be retained in the EPS. Foden has started looking sharper again so I would have preferred him to tour.

      The player you are describing sounds like someone who should be giving up professional rugby completely, I don’t think he’s that bad! So I don’t think we should mix up “not good enough to be a top international” with “not fit to ever put on a pair of boots again”.

      1. Hadn’t spotted that Foden was in … had seen Goode and Brown on the list and just assumed no Foden.

        Maybe he is going as a backup 10, but I would prefer we don’t continue with the experiments of playing people in positions they don’t play for their clubs.

        Think Botica should have been the backup for Burns.

  17. Talking about the props – we’re a bit short in strength in depth. Cole and Corbisiero are world class – maybe not the best of the best but still world class – then Marler and Vunipola have their strengths. Maybe Thomas can develop – but I’m with those who say give Nick Wood a chance over David Wilson or Dorran Jones – who have both had their chances and shown they can’t hack it at that level! Still – would rather have Wilson that Stevens!

    1. Thought Wilson actually went very well for Bath at the weekend against Sarries – made some decent carries and out-scrummaged Vunipola (granted not the greatest accolade). Still, I wonder if, having been second choice for so long and getting the odd 10mins here and there, he might show us what he can do, given a few tests to start? Would be good to have a viable option in reserve for Cole, because at the moment I agree – there is no depth at tighthead.

      1. Thomas is a good young prospect at 3, and Wilson is actually not a bad player by any stretch.

        Cole is a lot like Adam Jones for wales and Mike Ross for Ireland. He is deemed so superior to all other options, that they insist on starting him for every game and making him play 70mins. had cole not been chosen for the lions, i would hope that his name would be on the rested list, because the way we operate with tightheads is not very sustainable.

      2. Think it’s a good chance for Wilson to show what he can do, agree he’s been looking good for Bath and his mobility seems to be improving.

        I think he’s a better backup for Cole than people give him credit for (because Cole is so durable). Hope he doesn’t prove me wrong!

    2. Nick Wood is a loosehead, while Wilson and Doran-Jones are tightheads, so it would be pretty hard to justify taking him and not them.

      Also i am surprised that people havent mentioned Mullan, after all, he was the prop that was called into the EPS when Corbs was injured.

      Wood wasnt even in the Saxons, Catt was in over him, which is a bit surprising, as i think Wood is a decent player.

    3. Tom you are right about Stevens he looked very fat and out of condition recently. Why are we still leaving Stefan Armitage out in the cold . Swallow your pride SL and take the very best players on tour. Both brothers played so well for Toulaon this season.

      1. rod. It has been made very clear to Steffon that he will not be selected for england while he plays in france, because of an RFU decision, not one of SL’s.

        Also Steffon is constantly telling the press that he “would do anything to play for england” and yet there he is, still playing in france. clearly the french lifestyle and nice pay cheque means more to him than representing his country.

        he definitely does not look like he has the same fitness levels as the rest of the england flankers either. and the stats of how many (or should i say few) rucks he hits is shockingly low, and doesnt really suit the way england want to play. plus he does not offer an option at the lineout either, which is a blot on his copy book too.

        and finally. i recall when s. armitage was given his chance by england. he was decidedly average. struggled with the pace of the game. who is to say that that won’t be the case again?

        its very easy to look like a good flanker when all you do is stand in the backs and wait for the ball to come. we already have croft – at least he offers lineout presence – we do not need another want-to-be winger.

    4. Gatland would disagree with you, and he is the Lions coach, so his credentials are a little stronger. I would say that Vunipola has leapfrogged Marler and Corbisiero. His scrummaging is improving with every game, and he is unstoppable in the loose. Just watch his break against Toulon if you’re not sure. Wislon hasn’t had a bad game for England and has done nothing wrong. Doran Jones has under-performed in and England shirt previously and Thomas is the emerging talent. Personally I would start with Wilson and have Thomas on the bench. And I would rather have Stevens, but he’s retired from England duty and is on the Lions tour.

  18. all in all it is a pretty decent squad. i would like to see Simpson or Daly in there, but it would be hard to select someone to get rid off.

    Seeing as we have 9 players off with the lions, and a further 7 out (being rested or injured) the depth is pretty decent. no to mention that someone like Frazer is also out injured, and others (ie Ford) have not been selected, so that they can have a good pre-season. the depth of english rugby is looking pretty decent, as long as at least half of these new lads can make a good transition to test rugby.

    1. oh! and i am happy that Wood is getting a chance to lead.

      I think that this will only be beneficial for england in the long run. Having a handful of guys who have lead the team takes some of the pressure off of the captain. It should be good for Robshaw in the future.

  19. In general I think it’s a pretty good selection, though it depends on who actually gets to play!

    Think Varndell is a little hard done by, would have preferred him to get a shot ahead of Yarde or Strettle (not that either of these 2 are in bad form, just that I think we should give a chance to the guy that scores the most tries).

    Daly is a great prospect, but he’s been run over a little too much of late, so I wonder if a summer focussing on strength and conditioning may help him in the long run (not that it has done Ford any good mind)

    Launchbury has been way off his early season form. I hope he does get the batteries fully recharged for next year, I wouldn’t have been adverse to him being on the rested list.

    Don’t agree with only taking one FH. Goode, Wigglesworth and 36 may be OK for some emergency cover, but if Burns picks up a knock (say on a Thurs or even a pre-game warm up) none of the backup options would fill me confidence to start a test. I would have gone with Botica.

    Simpson, I think his pace off the bench is a real game changer, think he should have toured.

    Wouldn’t have minded Marler being given a rest as well and get a proper look at Wood who has been on the fringes for a while, but we don’t know if he can step up or not.

    Only player on the list who I definitely wouldn’t have taken is Goode. Others are more marginal.

  20. With the exception of 1 or 2 forwards who have not made their mark having already been capped, I am pleasantly surprised by the squad. I had hoped the Lions tour would enable Lancaster to take a potentially more promising squad than used in the 6 Nations. Job done. Good luck and I hope to see many of them feature in future England teams.

  21. Wow – given that this is being viewed by some as a “development squad” as a number of senior players are either with the Lions or being rested – it is fantastic to see so much interest in the squad – 76 comments so far on this thread !!
    Glad to see Attwood back in the squad (and no Bananananananananahan)
    Sad no space for Trinder but you can’t please everyone.
    Very much looking forward to seeing how they do and who is still in the squad come the Autumn internationals.

  22. just seen an interview with Lancaster regarding the squad. Goode is mentioned in regards to them “maybe having a look at him in the 10 role”. so i guess that answers some of the questions about 10 options.

  23. Good squad, though thought Daly and Fraser deserved to go, and Ford should go for some experience.

    Hopefully we can give experience to the new men, and reintegrate them later with the old guard:

    Webber (Hartley)
    Wilson (Cole)
    Lawes (Parling)
    Kvesic (Robshaw)
    Dickson (Youngs)
    Tomkins (Tuilagi)

    Marler (Vunipola)
    Buchannan (Youngs)
    Wigglesworth (Care)
    Goode (Farrell)

  24. What a cracking squad, my first visit to Twickers will be The Baa Baas game for my Stag Do and now I cannot wait, with The Baa Baas will picking the likes of Parisse, Harinordique, Hook, Yachvili, Rokocoko and Castro it should be a good game!

  25. Just catching up with all of these comments and am disappointed to see all the criticism of Alex Goode brought up again (though not surprised). I am not a Sarries fan, in fact I don’t really like them at all, but I am a fan of Goode.

    Most of the criticism seems to be based around the fact that he is not as fast as Brown and Foden, and in returning kicks does not break the line a la Christian Cullen, but subscribers to this view should remember that;

    a)International kick-chase defences are very well organised. They are set up specifically to stop the FB running the ball back. It is not like the old days of kick and hope.
    b)With the exception of Stuart Hogg, which international FB’s are consistently breaking the kick/chase defensive line?
    c)Mike Brown can usually beat the first and/or second defenders but of course he is already in the team.
    d) Ben Foden doesn’t. he is a classy runner for sure but his ability to beat players is not from returning kicks but in broken play or wider out in a kind of supplementary Outside Centre role.
    e) Halfpenny doesn’t.
    f) Kearney doesn’t. In fact Kearney does pretty much the same thing as Goode – he takes contact, protects the ball, and enables his support to recycle the ball. He just does it in a different way, using his size and strength as opposed to Goode’s nimble footwork.
    g)The French FB (forget his name) made some good breaks and also got turned over quite regularly.

    There is much note of Foden’s propensity to take the ball into contact rather than breeze through the upcoming defensive line, but we should note that this is a deliberate playing style, as how often does he become isolated and how often is that ball turned over? Very, very rarely. This sideways shuffle that provokes such ire is buying his team time to provide sufficient numbers at the breakdown, so it should be seen as a skill, not a deficiency.

    These days, teams cannot afford ball carriers to become isolated, and the FB position is by default, the most isolated position on the pitch, so even if the FB returns a kick by beating 2 or 3 or 4 players, it is all for nothing if the ball is then turned over. Of course, if he launches a scintillating counter attack, it is great, but how often does any FB manage this at International level?

    Just a different perspective :-)

    1. Of course, when I wrote “There is much note of Foden’s propensity to take the ball into contact rather than breeze through the upcoming defensive line”, I meant to refer to Alex Goode, not Ben Foden.


    2. Just out of interest. If a kick return isn’t broken field play, then what is?

      There aren’t many situations where you will get players scattered around as much as when chasing a kick. Tight five forwards are ripe for the picking, because they are struggling to keep up with the backs in the kick chase.

      When a ball is collected off a kick from a fullback you will often hear a commentator say “he loves this type of broken field opportunity”.

      Also, the idea of the fullback entering the line like a “supplementary outside centre” is one of the fundamentals of fullback play. They add the extra attacking threat, thereby creating either a hole, or an overlap. Admittedly Goode isn’t this style of player, as he plays a 2nd passer role, but in the 6Ns he wasn’t even filling that role effectively.

      The issue with Goode’s little sideways step is not that he is getting isolated, but he is wasting the opportunities of runners coming off him. Runners don’t know where he is going, and secondly he is too busy trying to fix the man that his head is down and he doesn’t react to a runner hitting space. This is a skill that Foden and Ashton perfected together. Brown is also pretty handy at it with Monye at Quins.

      1. Simo, the point I was trying to make (or one of them) was precisely that these days, most kick returns are not “broken play” as they are very structured in terms of where the ball is going, and the organised follow up.

        Of course, “broken play” can still result from kicks, if the kick is poor, or the chase is dis-organised, but it is rare at International level.

        I would suggest also, that his support know precisely what he is going to do, and this is the very reason he is at 15.

    3. Fair point regarding the kick chase. I guess the point I was going on is that, due to the rugby league style defence which is taking over the game, a kick return is the most broken you tend to get now-a-days, but I see your point in how they are not broken by general standards.

      The reason I say that his support don’t know what he is going to do, is because it is hard for them to run lines off of him. EVERYONE clearly knows that he is going to do his little dance, because he does it every single time he doesn’t kick the ball.

      On his kicking, he doesn’t put up kicks that can be competed for. I am not saying all other alternatives do, but for a kicking fullback, that should be his bread and butter.

      Another criticism of his, is that he does not have an outside break, therefore it is hard to create space for his wingers when they field a long kick. Foden, Brown and Daly are some of the best examples of this style of play.

      And a final point. I don’t think that Goode actually has the athleticism to deal with high balls when there is competition. He has a good technique, but too many times I have seen him beaten in the air. (Parisse destroyed him in the Italy game, and Lobbe gave him a very difficult afternoon in the HC semi). You want a fullback who is commanding the airways, and securing the ball so people cannot disrupt it.

    4. Agree with the points about it being important to hold onto the ball and there being fewer gaps to exploit with the better defensive lines.

      However if the extent of out counter attacking ambition is to run slowly back up to our own 10 metre line, do a little shuffle and go to ground near some of our own players (to help retain the ball) while most of our team is still jogging back from offside positions then we are doomed.

      It’s not just about having the pace and physicality to break the line it’s about being able to initiate a counter attack for the back 3. All he can initiate is a ruck.

      I’ll trot out the stat again. Our back 3 have scored 4 tries in 16 games under Lancaster (I’ve excluded Fiji as that was a training run). That’s 2 for Ashton and 2 for Foden. That averages out to an 8.3% strike rate across the 48 caps. That’s abysmal. Keep that up and we will be heading for a group stage exit. So we have to find some real potency and I don’t see the point in having gas men such as May or Wade out wide if they can’t use that pace because they are jogging behind Goode to stay onside.

      When you then look at Hogg going over him like Lomu on Catt it’s clear he’s just not a good enough athlete for the position.

      I think he could make a very good 10, but to become one he would have to move clubs and play there. In my opinion Lancaster wanting to take a look at him at 10 this summer is an appalling decision. Our first choice 10 doesn’t play enough club games at 10, so taking a look at Goode makes no sense when he won’t get any experience their for his club behind Hodgson and Farrell.

    5. I know there are various comments here. My beef with the Goode shuffle is more often than not whoever is opposite him ends up tackling him 3 metres backwards as he has lost all momentum, which means our support players have to turn around and try to recover the situation while the tackling support players run over the top of the ruck and win the ball. Last two games I can remember making this point as ha fielded the ball and then sure enough…! If you aren’t slippery enough or fast enough to beat the first man, which Goode isn’t at least take the ball into contact at pace and get some forward momentum for the support players. The rest of his game isn’t too bad but this type of play leaves me very frustrated.

  26. Blub – I’m not entirely sure you have a clue what you are talking about.
    What you’re saying is, running up to the defensive line isolated is ok. Running sideways and taking space away from support runners is ok. Brown, Foden, Halfpenny, Kearney and Hogg aren’t as good as Goode?
    Watch him again – have you ever noticed how many high kicks Goode puts in? Now have a look at home many times players on his own side are able to get underneath them to compete for the ball – the answer is not many if any! So, if you look at what he does in a game – he can field deep kicks most of the time as he usually positions himself well – but that’s it – he can’t return them well by running or kicking, he can’t put others into space, and he can’t stop opposition runners. So – not good enough for England yet then is he!

    1. Tom – really, that is not very sociable.

      I wouldn’t expect or demand that everyone agrees with me, but there is no need to be quite so impolite – this is not YouTube.

      To be clear, I am not saying any of those points that you infer. In fact any form of isolation is quite clearly not OK, but lets not forget that the point of kick/chases very often is precisely to isolate the fielder – so it will happen. When it does he manages it very well – even if it is in a rather pragmatic way.

      1. I have to defend Blub here. I do not think that he ever said being isolated was ok. In fact he said that Goode uses his “little sideways shuffle” to buy his team time so that he DOESN’T get isolated. That is one strength I will admit Goode having, I rarely see him turned over because support doesn’t get there. (Whether that is because of his shuffle, or the fact that he is so slow for a fullback that he is easily tracked is another debate)

        1. On reflection, I guess that the selections of Goode, Barritt and Brown (as a winger) are all very “safe”.

          I wonder if the whole back-line is not set up as it is, solely to accommodate Tuilagi. That is, if we had a 13 with good hands, and a reliable defensive game, we wouldn’t see different faces in the other positions (including 10!).

          It will be interesting to see how the teams are set up in Argentina, as the lack of a second 10 (apart from “you know who”), no out-and-out defensive organiser in the middle and the addition of Foden PLUS 4 wingers does alter the team dynamic, or at least the backs dynamic, quite considerably.

  27. but he wouldn’t have to use his sideways shuffle to buy more time if he didn’t run into defenders with no support in the first place!

    Blub – calm down, just justify your comments with examples like I did. Youtube?! nevermind

    Interestingly I saw someone write that Lancaster has hinted they might take a look at Goode in the 10 spot. They were going to do that once with the saxons – and with Sarries but then he struggled to adapt and they then had both Hodgson and Farrell so they didn’t have time or need to continue the experiment.

    Agree with Simo that building understandings help – Brown/Monye, Foden/Ashton – would have been good to see Daly/Wade this summer.

    I’m still fuming about no Joe Simpson though – he’s a brilliant runner, but much more than that, he doesn’t do a danny 2 step care before he passes the ball!

    1. Tom, Goode was always a fly half, even when he broke into the Sarries team. It was when Farrell came through and Hodgeson was there that Goode has a run at full back and performed very well. So I am unsure why you mentioned him adapting to 10?

      Considering Goode has only player 15 for a couple of years, your criticism of him Tom is way over the top. I am not a Goode fan either, and I wouldn’t have him in the squad, but he does have some qualities you can not ignore. My opinion is just that he is too slow to be an international full back.

      Also Tom, I think Blub was fair to defend himself as your comments did come across a little “YouTube”, as he put it. And to criticize the way Blub formatted his argument also seems unfounded as it seemed coherent to me.

  28. Thanks to Richard cockerills total inability to manage and nurture good talent George ford has been left out of this young, attack minded squad. Can’t see how that fool of a man can justify strangling the development of first twelvetrees and then ford and say he knows what he’s doing when it comes to development. I thought he was supposed to show player who proved themselves faith? So obviously the end of last season was forgotten in his eyes. Can’t help but think this would have been excellent to get plenty of really young, exciting guys together to gel and the one guy who should be pushing burns for the ten shirt has only played about an hours worth of prem rugby this season. Mind you, that didn’t stop lydiate getting on the lions tour…

    1. Lydiate does have a rather good track record though, rather than potential. Having said that, I would have taken Ford and wouldn’t have taken Lydiate.

    2. To be fair to Cockerill, Tigers do crank out plenty of young talent that go on to make up a fair proportion of the EPS & Saxons (and Lions for that matter).

      Agree with you that leaving was the best thing 36 has done, and I don’t understand why Tigers didn’t make more of him. There’s no shortage of players who have been no better for leaving though. Ford is a different case, clearly there’s been something going on over the course of the season, well before the announcement of the Bath move was made. I don’t think the energies have been going into developing him as a long term asset this year, because he wasn’t going to be one.

    3. A bit of an unfair statement. Cockerill has managed to nurture five Lions through into the Leicester team, that is pretty good! As well as many England players as well.

      1. I think ay best you can say Cockerill’s success rate for developing players is mixed. Tom Youngs career move to hooker was down to Heineke Meyer, Tuilagi was not so much developed as unleashed and came to Leicester via his brothers. Parling is hardly a Leicester product having joined from Newcastle aged 28. With 12t and Ford he has sacrificed long term potential for short term expediency. RC picked journeymen such as Jeremy Stauntan and Allen ahead of him so I can see why he left. Fine you could argue if he had achieved success but with a possible 3 barren years coming up you do wonder whether he is holding Leicester back. Now they have also lost their well regarded head coach to Leinster.

    1. Sometimes, but 7 tries in 89 prem matches suggests not often. He earned a chance deservedly, but just isn’t good enough at international level.

      Let’s have a look at our last world class full back in action to see the gulf in pace, power and agility.


      The first half is playing some funny 13 man game, but still some astonishing tries that I hadn’t seen before.

      Not quite in the same league, but we’ve had another bloke play recently who has been pretty handy as well.


      Goode isn’t without his positive attributes but he’s a long way short of a top class international full back in my opinion.

      1. I will never tire of watching Robinson carve up the Welsh or burn Latham on the outside

        Cheers for the links

        BTW –

        Mike Brown – 138 premiership appearances 43 tries – 1 try every 3.2 appearances

        Ben Foden – 125 premiership appearances; 27 tries – 1 try every 4.6 appearances

        Alex Goode equivalent – 1 try every 12.7 appearances

        I know who I would rather have at fullback

        PS – its not Goode

    2. Goode is a class player but his natural position is fly-half as he reads the game so well and he needs more gas to be an international fb. Given Northampton’s continuing problem at 10 it puzzles me why he has never moved on from Saracens.

      1. I wouldn’t say that Northampton have too many problems at 10, they have Myler and Lamb? It could be worse they could have ANDY Goode! Lol

        1. Myler and Lamb have both seemed to never hit the heights that a 10 in a top 4 team should. In fact it is widely believed that Saints would be doing better if a better player was leading them from 10.

          Myler is solid, but unspectacular. Lamb is too hit and miss. They are a nice balance to have, but neither seems to produce high enough standards regularly.
          And I say all this as a saints fan.

          Having said all this, I don’t think that Alex Goode would be such an amazing 10 that he would do much better. Goode is another player who is solid, but will never set the world alight. Unfortunately he hasn’t taken the same level of solidity into the test arena.

  29. I can’t remember a single line break from goode in all of his caps, there are quicker under 15 players than him..

  30. After the disappointment of hearing that Will Fraser needed surgery for his recent injury, and then him not getting selected for Englands Argie tour, I’m a little baffled to see Sarries have selected him to start on Sunday?? As a Sarries fan I’m delighted to see him starting, but surprised.

    1. I think that it is one of these injuries where he can play on, but will need an op at some point. So the decision has been made to give him a summer off. This will hopefully delay his bright international career, as opposed to risking it all together.

      Anthony Allen was left out of the EPS due to “medical reasons” and yet he too is starting for tigers at the weekend. I am guessing that these two are in the same boat.

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