England Team for Autumn Internationals: Fans’ Selection

After last week’s series of polls to pick the England team for the Autumn Internationals and hundreds of voters, a side has emerged as the fans’ selection.

In the front row, Dan Cole was a popular choice with over 93% of the vote, as was Dylan Hartley at hooker (78%), but the loosehead position appears to be very tightly contested between Alex Corbisiero and Joe Marler – Marler edges it by just 2 votes.

In the second row, Courtney Lawes‘ return from injury and subsequent form has been impressive enough to make him the first-choice lock in the fans’ eyes. Geoff Parling, Mouritz Botha, Tom Palmer and George Robson all provide options alongside Lawes, but it’s Parling that gets the nod, presumably as the lineout expert that seems to be mandatory these days.

The back row is a tricky one, with plenty of competition for places. Chris Robshaw and Ben Morgan are the standout options at 7 and 8, with 89% and 73% of the vote respectively, but the blindside flank is not so clear-cut. Tom Croft leads the vote with 38%, assuming he is fit, ahead of Tom Wood (31%) and Tom Johnson (26%). Johnson is the man in possession though, and injury concerns over Croft and Wood could see him continue.

Danny Care won two-thirds of the vote for the scrum-half jersey, with Ben Youngs as the back-up option, and few could argue with that pecking order based on recent performances.

At fly-half, Freddie Burns was a popular choice, attracting nearly one-third of the votes compared to Owen Farrell’s 13%, but Toby Flood is the fans’ favourite with 44%.

In the centres, it’s a question of who plays with Manu Tuilagi – the Tiger received 88% of the vote, with Jonathan Joseph the most popular choice alongside him. Brad Barritt (18%), Billy Twelvetrees (17%) and Anthony Allen (13%) all had more votes than Owen Farrell (10%). Given than Tuilagi and Joseph both play at 13 for their clubs, Tuilagi would probably need to move to 12, as he did in South Africa.

Ben Foden’s absence in the back three makes for a selection headache. Chris Ashton (86%) and Mike Brown (64%) are popular choices at wing and full-back, but the other wing spot is very much up for grabs. Christian Wade attracted the most votes (44%), despite being in the Saxons rather than the elite squad, with Jonny May – also a Saxon – behind him on 28%.

So with the votes counted and recounted, here is the Fans’ England Team for the Autumn Internationals:

1. Joe Marler
2. Dylan Hartley
3. Dan Cole
4. Courtney Lawes
5. Geoff Parling
6. Tom Croft
7. Chris Robshaw
8. Ben Morgan

9. Danny Care
10. Toby Flood
11. Chris Ashton
12. Manu Tuilagi
13. Jonathan Joseph
14. Christian Wade
15. Mike Brown

16. Joe Gray
17. Alex Corbisiero
18. Mako Vunipola
19. Tom Palmer
20. Tom Wood
21. Ben Youngs
22. Brad Barritt
23. Alex Goode

What do you think?

58 thoughts on “England Team for Autumn Internationals: Fans’ Selection

  1. A triumph for decision making by committee. Still not sure that Wade is ready from a defensive perspective, but otherwise the team looks about right. I’d want May on the bench though, as there’s no cover for the wings, and he covers all back three slots.

    Outside shouts for Yarde, Launchbury and Billy Vunipola, but generally it looks about right.

    1. I actually bumped May for Goode in that final replacements slot, since he covers back three and fly-half…

      Agreed about the triumph, and we know Lancaster reads this blog!

      1. brent May 13, 2010 I say, drop No.1, you will always see your oteecimaffs, like everyday. So,magsasawa ka din sa mukha nila. You might get lost though on the chika with them when they get back to work but hey, it should be worth it considering you’ll see Mimay again.

    2. I would definitely like to see Billy Vunipola in an England shirt. With Waldrom being that much older, I think Vunipola could be a great choice as back up. Get him in now ready for 2015!

  2. I imagine Corbs will start over Marler, but the closeness of the vote probably indicates how close the call is! I’m glad people went for Parling, as he’s one of those hard workers who is vital but not particularly glamorous.

    All in all, I’d be happy with that team. We could see how Wade fared against the Fijians, and if he doesn’t cut it bring in someone else for the games against the big 3.

  3. Corbs if fit is a touch better than Marler at the moment. Marler is growing as a player though and is definitely there or there abouts.

    I think Barritt is a better option at 12 than Tuilagi. Manu would offer a good bench option for the centre and the wing.

    1. After a barren couple of years, it’s nice we can actually discuss centre options rather than having to just make do with what we’ve got (I’m looking at you, Hape).

    2. Definitely agree with Barritt at 12. Strengthens the defence if Flood is at 10, and is on fine form as he proved last week.

  4. In other news Bryce Lawrence has retired from international refereeing. Happy days. So glad this pedant will no longer be able to ruin rugby matches.

    Otherwise very happy with this team. Think SL will go for Barritt at 12 which is fine as long as he is playing outside Flood or Burns.

  5. Yes I think the voting meant people got excited about Tuilagi and Joseph, and rightly so, but lets be honest, I think that Barritt will play, and should do, in order for the team to work defensively. Tuilagi to undoubtedly start.

    Other than that it looks a very strong team, and for the first time in a few years we are having a debate about all the genuinely good players that are putting their hands up to play; and not debating which player is less of a liability that the other!

  6. While I rate Barritt, Tuilagi has to play IMO. I also think Joseph gives us some much needed flair and pace, so I’d be in favour of picking him if we can get comfortable that Manu can play 12. Allen’s a good player too and shouldn’t be overlooked.

    So, for me, Manu players, whether as a 12 or 13, and it’s then a relatively close call between Barritt, Allen and Joseph, the choice of which should slightly depend on your priorities.

    1. Nick “That’s £35000 down the toilet” Easter? He may be playing well, but don’t you want players playing for England for the right reasons? I know I do…

      1. …. are you seriously suggesting that Nick Easter wants to play for England simply for money? You need to look beyond the “headline” comment.

  7. Other than the fact that there are three looseheads in the squad and only one tighthead, and the apparent love affair with injured and/or out of form Tom’s in the back row…. pretty decent.

    Seriously, we finally get in a position where we don’t have to suffer for the selection of a prop “who can play both sides” and we pick three almost identical looseheads.

    1. Thing is Tom, most casual readers of this blog won’t really be thinking that in depth. They just see a name they like and go for it.

      Regarding Croft perhaps people are thinking “when all are fit and on form” rather than current injuries/form.

      1. It’s a bit of a tricky one, as I’d imagine Foden would have nailed the 15 shirt, but he wasn’t available in the poll due to his injury.

        I wouldn’t really want Croft in the starting XV for the AIs after 2 Tigers matches (which it looks like he may get), but fully-firing I think he’s our best 6.

    2. Agree about the props, that’s all wrong. Wasn’t really looking at the bench other than noting there was no cover for the wing (Goode is not a winger, good player though he may be)

  8. Why are people starting Croft when hes not played yet this season?

    6. Johnson
    7. Robshaw
    8. Morgan

    19. Armitage (if that can’t happen Waldrom)

    The bench back rowers are the two biggest impact players.

    1. I like Johnson but, allowing for fitness naturally, I don’t think he’s in the same class as Croft or an on form Wood.

      I also think that a combo of Robshaw at 6 and Armitage at 7 could be worth a shout.

      Easter, excellent player though he undoubtedly is, is just far too old to realistically stand any chance of the World Cup, which we MUST be building towards. Therefore, even allowing for his excellent form, I’d rather Morgan was given more exposure.

      1. When on top form i agree Croft is probably a better player. Not so sure about Wood, i think his talent is exagerated tbh i don’t think he has really proved much in an England shirt. I can’t remember him ever playing as well as Johnson in SA.

        I had armitage on the bench with the intention of bringing him on as you suggest with Robshaw at 6. The only Problem with starting that combo is their is no real line out option in the back row. Neither Morgan or Waldrom offer a great line out option either.

        I don’t want Easter as even on the form of his life hes not much better than Morgan or Waldrom but i see them having bigger futures. And i just hate Easter.

        1. I don’t see Waldrom as the future of England’s No. 8 position. Morgan yes. Vunipola yes.

          I think Easter is better than Waldrom on current form and should be picked accordingly. He may not be the future, but he is a leader and the two younger 8’s can learn a thing or two from him

  9. Got to love the comments. I haven’t read them all but has anyone suggested starting may instead of brown at fullback? Mays got a hell of a lot more pace than brown and counter attacks just as much. Brown isn’t even that solid defensively as he proved with that half hearted tackle down in SA that ended his tour.

    1. Mike Brown got the “Gatorade Game Changer” award for September. This isn’t awarded by a vote, but rather by the player who has remarkable stats – so clearly he has something about him.

      1. I would consider Foden, Brown, Goode (in that order) to be our best three options at full back. May then comes after that, as well as players like Miller and Abendanon.

      2. Gatorade Game Changer? Is that a real award? Please tell me we’re not going down the horrendous IPL route with the DLF Maximum and Citi Moment of Success.

        Next poll, suggestions for comedy sponsorhip awards:
        B&Q Bosher Award
        Yahoo Yard Gainer

  10. Only thing i would question is the centers. I think Manu’s questionable passing makes him a risk at 12? What do you think of Farell at inside then Manu outside?

  11. I would not play Farrell at 12, although I agree than Manu is much more effective at 13, Farrell doesn’t offer anything at 12. A second kicker? Defence? (but not as good as Barritts) – so I can not see Farrell playing there.

    Manu playing 12 is not ideal, and it will only be when the coaching staff feel the game needs Joseph in it; and Manu will play.

  12. 5 Live Rugby Special this evening, 19:00 – 20:30 with Lancaster and coaching team. Questions can be posted on the beeb site.

  13. I wouldn’t play Farrell anywhere. Toby Flood and Freddie Burns are better choices for 10 and there are better centres than him with the likes of Anthony Allen and Billy Twelvetrees.
    If Freedie Burns doesn’t get the call from England then there is no justice.

    Nick Wood is the best English prop in the premiership and he has proven this time and again, betaing the likes of Dan Cole and other Enlgand International props in the set piece.

    1. I haven’t seen nick wood play like an extra back row before. Something Dan Cole is becoming quite effective at for Leicester… agree burns should get a shot, he offers a lot more than farrell, maybe lacks some in the goal kicking however.
      Browns stats do look good yes. Haven’t seen them for this season yet. May is younger and has more pace. Hence why I’d rather he was developed. Many can pass, he just chooses not to the majority of the time. Its usually when he attacks the outside and offloads to his winger. If only he could do that further in field and pop it to the rapid JJ. I think our team will be a handful come 2015. We’re only seeing the first real steps of the team now so its a question of who steps up and wants it the most.

  14. Perhaps the poll should have had separate voting options for inside and outside centre.
    Playing tuilagi and Joseph at 12 & 13 is a mistake- a good 12 needs good hands and a kicking game- which tuilagi does not have.
    12trees or Allen at 12 for me (and tuilagi at 13)- plus they have both played at club level with flood and tuilagi which is a bonus

  15. Like the look of the team posted – great mobilty in the pack which is key IMO against the all blacks and australia, although maybe a shout for Launchbury on the bench against Fiji? Massive fan of him, hard working second row and can cover back row like lawes.
    Great Attacking potential – would be my pick if I were Lancaster except foden must play when fit for future matches.

  16. Lots of comments on here regarding who should play 12 and 13. Well I agree with the people saying that Tuilagi and Joseph would be a mistake. If Flood is going to be first choice (which looks likely), Barritt should definitely play at 12. He is the best defensive 12 in the Premiership, and can also bust a hole, and can kick well if required (he played a lot at 10 in SA). The question is who would you plat at 13. I would like to see Joseph start at 13, with the view of Tuilagi covering centre and wing if necessary. One thing Joseph does better that Tuilagi is run good lines, and will play off Barritts shoulder more than Tuilagi. Get the ball to him, a little side step, draw in a couple of defenders, and then Wade, Ahston, Monye (whoever is on the wing) will have the space on the outside. Tuilagi will run at people and make a big hole, but doesn’t create space like Joseph can.

    1. Great things take time do they not? New Zealand took their time with nonu and he’s now one of the best 12s in the world. Tuilagi is only 21 and everyone is writing him off already. He’s big and strong and he can pass. Just doesn’t do it very often. He only recently switched from being a winger to a centre and his skills need time to develop. He needs to develop that confidence to bust a hole and then offload to Joseph or Ashton. I wouldn’t go out into a pressure situation and start trying out a million different skills. It’s why a doctor trains for four years rather than doing open heart surgery after a year at university… Skills take time to develop as does the confidence to use those skills under pressure.

      1. Forgot to mention Jamie Roberts in there as well. He was far from the finished article when he made the switch from wing to 12. Typical English attitude of write off and look for the quick fix. Everyone seems to look at what individuals bring to the team rather than how all these skills will mix and flow when used together. Would be interesting to see what skills people thought certain players provided, it would need to be a bit more in depth than “brings all the skills a good 12 should have”.
        For example, Barritt is rock solid in defence and leads it from the front. He’s an average carrier and doesn’t do much with the ball in hand, creating little for those around him. He does have an incredibly under rated boot however. For me barritts strengths lie in how he leads a defence and can hold his midfield together. I’d say the rest of his skills, in particular when it comes to attack, are pretty average. Reminds me of Tindall, or the Clark/Downey combo saints had. Simple, effective, doesn’t make mistakes and reliable. That’s all good if everyone is happy watching a game being decided by three points, but everyone wants a piece of x-factor to light the field up and create a beautiful, yet ruthlessly cunning score.
        In my opinion a centre partnership needs the guile and deception, but that must be coupled with the some raw defender bashing strength.
        If tuilagi and jj were partnered as well as SBW and Conrad ‘snake’ smith come 2015 I wouldn’t see anyone complaining.
        Time is very much on England’s side though, it might be a combination that we’ve yet to consider which starts creating havoc for defences.
        Watch for Gale fickou. He was immense for France in the u18 World Cup and is growing in confidence all the time since Toulouse are giving him top 14 game time. Probably the reason behind why he’s been selected for France. This stands a bit juxtaposed to cockers saying that it might kill George fords talent.
        Would anyone else just give him a good run to see what he could produce? Floodys a bit tried and tested, we know he distributes, kicks and doesn’t mind having a little run himself, give the young gun a shot!

        1. Sorry, I’m writing this in a rush on the iPad before I head out. Apologies for any problems with the prose of my comments.

          1. James – what you say is all very true

            If Nonu had played for England, he’d have ended up nothing more than a big lump in midfield being used for defense and crash ball

            Conrad Smith on the other hand, would never have been selected for England, being both too small and too slow by the standards of our national selectors.

  17. Without appearing to seem like a Wasps fan (because they are without exception immeasurable plebs) Paul Turner’s done a great job with their back line this year. If Elliot Daly, Tom Varndell don’t join Christian Wade in that squad then something’s seriously amiss & Joe Simpson is the most talented & in form #9 in England at the moment.

    If Billy Twlevetrees doesn’t get a chance to play in the centre’s then Lancaster really missed a trick too. I’m a Sarries fan and as great as Barritt is defensively he just doesn’t do enough with ball in hand to bring in the players around him.

    1. I agree. Look at the wasted talents of David strettle. Even Cashton the super poacher is struggling to find tries regularly. If your wingers don’t score that speaks volumes about the skills and style of play everyone inside them.

      1. Disagree with most of this.

        Varndell is still too suspect under pressure.

        Daly has potential but can disappear in games.

        Simpson is exciting but not currently on Care’s level. Watch is performance v Biarritz to see a scrum half on the top of his game. Is he currently the best in Europe? Well, if he’s not, he’s not far off.

        Don’t thnk Twelvetrees has made enough of an impact to force himself past the current waiting list for England centre. Not to say that he won’t in the future though

        Strettle was his own worst enemy, abandoning the exciting rugby of Quins, which so suited his style of play, for the money and strait-jacketed game plan of Saracens.

  18. Care didn’t get a look in at Twickenham for about 60 minutes until Haskell went off, behind England’s pack Simpson would be able to attack round the fringes as Care does, pass to whoever ends up at 10, kick well and mix up all 3 assets, which is not something any of England’s current 9’s can do.

  19. All sounds good! Agree that Corbs shades it over Marler for me. And i’d have Tom Palmer any day of the week. Think he’s class. Can operate a line out, (especially if Croft is there too, which he was for me).

    Mint.

  20. buck_mitchell, i am afraid that I can see no way in which Joe Simpson is better than Danny Care, a man who has been one of the stand out scrum halves in Europe this season. Also have to disagree with the selection of Twelvetrees over Barritt, whos been immense this season, offering far more with the ball in hand, than last season.

    1. Barrett does not offer more than twelve trees with the ball in hand. Plus ’36’ has a monster boot too.

  21. Can’t believe Tom Johnson and steffon Armitage aren’t in the mix. They are both in excellent form. Out of sight out of mind? Wood is getting better but still not 100% match fit and Croft hasn’t had a game this season!

    1. Unfortunately Lancaster said on Wednesday that he won’t consider players based in France, other than in an injury crisis, as it’s just too hard to get them together for training camps and the like.

  22. I do think that Simpson is playing well. Not convinced that he is better than Care, but it would probably be a toss up for Simpson or Youngs behind him in my book. Simpson does bring that raw speed to the position. Might be a godd change of pace bench substitution.

    I like Strettle, but I’ve never been convinced that he can pull it off in the big games at international level. Does some good things but then disappears for a while.

    Despite being a Glaws fan, am not convinced Billy is completely ready for the next step. He is nearly there, particularly now he is getting regular rugby (George Ford take note!). But one more season in the Saxons to develop him first.

    Interested in Daly, he seems to be doing some good things, but once again I think another season in the Saxons.

    Varndell and Wade are two of a multitude of wingers that seem to be so so. Will do a job for England without dominating. I still like the idea of Sharples opposite Ashton. Nothing to beat electric pace, although Simpson Daniel has guile, nous and pace! Might be my inner shedhead coming out.

    1. Don’t forget Eastmond, as well. It’s most certainly early days, but he scored again for Bath last night after wrong-footing and then diving under the defending player. Bath also used him at 10 for the last 20 minutes against Bucharest and he looked perfectly at home there, so could be a useful bench option soon.

  23. For the sake of argument, how are we defining “best scrum half in Europe” ? Cos that Quin’s pack has had giving the half backs an armchair ride against everyone but Sarries this season. by all accounts Nick Eaters is in the form of his (very long) life & with Nick Evans outside him even Jimmy Cowan looked like a passable 9.

    In the game against Leicester Doussain looked like the best 9 in Europe, mainly cos Picamoles did all the work.

  24. Easter is playing some great rugby, but we need to look to the future!
    Parling and Lawes second row. 100% Danny Care at 9 for me. I also like the look of eastmond as new blood, next billy whizz.

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