England team named to play Wales


Stuart Lancaster has made two changes to the England squad to take on Wales on Sunday.

Ben Morgan replaces the injured Billy Vunipola at No 8 to win his 19th cap, with Exeter Chiefs’ Tom Johnson coming on to the replacements bench.

England Head Coach Lancaster said: “Ben has made an impact off the bench in the previous games. He has been pushing hard for the No 8 shirt and now gets his opportunity so we are looking forward to seeing him from the start. Tom has been outstanding for Exeter Chiefs and gives us options off the bench as he has played in all three backrow positions for his club.

“We can’t wait to play at home again. The players have said that the atmosphere at Twickenham for the Ireland game was the best they had experienced and I am sure it will be the same again on Sunday. It definitely gives us an extra lift and that’s what we want against another experienced, high quality side, who are looking to defend their title.”

England team to play Wales:
15 Mike Brown (Harlequins, 24 caps)
14 Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 3 caps)
13 Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints, 3 caps)
12 Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby, 11 caps)
11 Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 4 caps)
10 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 22 caps)
9 Danny Care (Harlequins, 45 caps)
1 Joe Marler (Harlequins, 18 caps)
2 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 53 caps)
3 David Wilson (Bath Rugby, 32 caps)
4 Joe Launchbury (London Wasps, 17 caps)
5 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 28 caps)
6 Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 26 caps)
7 Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, capt, 23 caps)
8 Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby, 18 caps)

16 Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 15 caps)
17 Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 13 caps)
18 Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks, 4 caps)
19 Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby, 8 caps)
20 Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs, 5 caps)
21 Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints, 14 caps)
22 George Ford (Bath Rugby, uncapped)
23 Alex Goode (Saracens, 15 caps)

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

34 thoughts on “England team named to play Wales

  1. The names that leap out for me are the ones we knew would not be there – Corbs, Vunipola and Corbisiero. Morgan is a good replacement but those other 3 would probably be Lions test players if squad picked today (and they were fit) so losing them weakens any team. I hope this gives Wales a bit of an edge in the front row. Rest of it is what makes this game so tasty. No obvious edges either way – yeah, Roberts/JD *could* be better but then 12Ts/Burrell could outfox them, they have it in them. Eng’s 2nd row could be the best pair on the pitch, but it’s not clear cut with AWJ back. We all know how well Brown is playing. Wings on track record go Wales’ way but that’s partly because the Eng wings record is so small so really it’s too early to use that as a comparison. Farrell could have a blinding game and outsmart the possibly flaky Priestland, or Farrell could do a Mikey and be carded early on (he has it in him) and Priestland might have one of those games he is capable of, especially with nippy service from Webb. My mind reels all over the place when trying to assess how I see this going, heart says Wales by 5, head says Eng by 5 with home advantage.

    Was surprised to see Morgan on almost as many caps as Robshaw. I guess a lot of Morgan’s caps are 20 minute end of match things.

    1. Corbs is a bloody good player, but he’s not so good that he counts as two players (Corbs and Corbisiero, as you said)… ;-)

      1. Shoot yeah, sorry, meant Cole and Corbs.

        Gatland would have in the Welsh squad in a flash. As an aside there was one of those “which England players would Wales pick” type of things last night. I’d have Corbs, Care, Launchbury (imagine an AWJ/Launchbury 2nd row) and then we get to the painful one. Brown or 1/2p? I think you actually have your Welsh citizenship revoked now if you express any sentiment other than 1/2p being a God amongst us mere mortals … I consoled myself by picking 1/2 and rationalising it as him being our kicker so I didn’t have to get into Brown v 1/2p as fullback quagmire.

          1. Which of 1/2p/Brown on the wing?

            I’d find it hard to drop Cuthbert – I now understand why some English still feel Ashton is the answer. He doesn’t seem to be a full rugby player, he’s a bit inept in defence, yet he scores crucial tries. He’s on the right end of the moves and he finishes them off. I think he also suffers from a bit of a perception problem as he has that languid long legged running style, rather than the furious knee pumping style of a Brown. This makes him look like he isn’t trying as hard – my son, also a long legged athlete, gets the same remarks from the touchline. Even though he is clearly outpacing everyone else on the field he gets screamed at to run faster because he just doesn’t have that knee pumping style so there is a suspicion he could tr harder. I’m babbling now. Finding it hard to concentrate today.

            However, you are right that those 3 are better players.

            1. Hard to concentrate? Tell me about it. I know what’ll take my mind off England v Wales – commenting on an England v Wales blog! …Oh, wait.

              Brown at fullback for me. I remember 1/2p being far more of a running threat against England when he’s been on the wing, and Brown simply isn’t as good there (if we have to have a fullback on the wing I’d choose Foden, although funnily enough 15 is Nowell’s position of choice)

              1. Geat, hypothetically, if we have a better kicker than Halfpenny – say Sexton is nailing 100% – would there be any real debate about who plays 15 in the hypothetical Lions team and/or the hypothetical 6Nations team today?

            2. Blimey Brighty!

              If you’re babbling and lacking concentration today, how are you going to be tomorrow?

              I’m not a big fan of Sunday games, when my team is playing.

  2. It’s great to see such continuity in selection – 13 of the starting XV have started all 4 Six Nations matches.

  3. I’m just hoping that if Morgan does go off, we see Johnson come on at 8, and not Wood!!!! Johnson has played a lot more at 8 than Wood has, and offers a different style of play than Morgan or Big Billy. I’m also hoping that even if it’s tight towards the end of the game, he has the cajones to bring Ford on and let him have a run.

    1. I’m a Bath supporter so obviously I’m a huge fan of Ford’s, but I don’t want to see him get his test debut under huge pressure if the game is close against Wales. Farrell is the player to close out a game. Ford, the first time I’ve seen it, looked quite shaky against Saracens on Friday, including being charged down twice when the pressure was on.

      1. I’m a Sarries fan, and although I’ve only seen highlights, I was surprised at how little he seemed to be involved. Although he did put an excellent cover tackle in to deny Tomkins a try. Really didn’t think we were going to win that game either.

        Impressed with Goode at 10? Again only seeing highlights, it was difficult to tell just how well he played.

        1. I watched the whole thing, Ford did stop Tomkins in the corner, but also later put in quite a feeble attempt at a tackle on Tomkins which set up Wyles’ try. He also took the ball into contact much more than he does when Bath are on the front foot, which was picked up in the analysis, as a result of the line speed he was faced with.

          I really rate him, but I can’t see him getting on unless there are injuries on Sunday, but would actually like to see him start the Italy game, whether England win or lose against Wales.

          Goode played well against Bath, not just because he stepped in last minute, but I don’t think we will see him either unless there are injuries.

  4. Picking a hybrid team on 6N form and it’s much closer than last year (which was largely just a debate on would Tuilagi get in the Welsh side!)

    If this fixture fell on the first weekend I would back England, but I think Wales are going to take it. They’ve played and won more big pressure international games, have many more proven ‘big game’ players and crucially they’ve now got their fitness and conditioning back to the levels required to implement their game plan. I don’t expect to get blown off the pitch this year though!

    1. I think Matt, that the “experience” aspect was given a good battering in the England/Ireland game, and unlike last year, I do believe we can see a straight line improvement within the England performances up to this point.

      Oddly, I am becoming more confident as the game nears.

      1. We’ve gone behind in a lot of games and come back to into winning positions (even if we’ve not closed out a couple of those) so agree we are much better placed to deal with being under pressure or going behind.

        But in the Welsh side there’s a lot of players that we’ve seen take it to another level in the grand slam/championship deciders and Lions 3rd test. If they do so again we’ve got to go significantly beyond our performance against Ireland to win.

  5. The news that Charteris out and has been replaced by Ball makes him and AWJ’s battle with Launchbury and Lawes quite interesting.

    1. Not sure sure Geat. Ball looked pretty impressive to me, whereas Charteris despite his physical assets has never truly nailed down a 1st choice strting postion. Might help in th elineout, I asusme they’ll lose some height there (whichis lawes/ Launchbury’s weakness).

      1. I checked his stats from the France game. 7 tackles at 100% success. Turned over once. All the other columns read “0”.

        1. Ok feel a little better. My perception was he had a better game than that. New partnership so late in the day can’t be helpful to the Welsh lineout. Kick for touch and lost of grubber kicks into their 22 me thinks…

      2. Increases my concern over the scrum. Ball is a big guy. There’s going to be a lot of weight coming through.

        Wilson going backwards last time out (but rarely going down) makes me wonder how much is down to the lack of a scrum monster in the second row. (This is just down to my non expert view that if a prop is struggling he’ll be going up/down/in/out but if it’s a general scrum power problem he’ll go back). If it’s happening again then I hope they sacrifice Lawes or Launchbury and get Attwood on early rather than just concede the scrum.

        1. I’m not sure Wales gaisn much weight wise with Ball – Charteris is 20 odd stone, but doesn’t look it becuase of his height. Mond you England probably have lost some weight advantage from losing Billy V. I just hope we play smart. If the scrum is struggling get the ball out ASAP. I just don’t understand why some scum halves just wait there at the base when the scrum is under pressure. Youngs was guilty of that last year so to was Genia in that last Lions test.

          1. At Gatland’s selection weigh-in (sorry meeting) Charteris was probably the heavier guy, but he’s rangy with very long levers, my guess is it’s Ball that exerts the greater force.

  6. Front row aside I feel pretty good about the team and its chances. Am hoping Wilson with a couple of extra weeks will be back to fitness. If we get parity here I think we’ll win. Maybe a slight worry about 12t defence but at least he knows what’s coming and just has to concentrate on making his tackles – easier said than done I guess.

    Anyway enough of England’s concerns. Am hoping Wood/ Robshaw target Webb/ Priestland – surely that wil be our best chance of breaking through the Welsh defence. Is 1/2penny a bit fatigued post Lions? Probably wont make much of a difference in this match because of the adrenalin, but hopefully England’s kick chase will be much improved. And then we have JD2. Is he fit enough? Not sure I’d target him as that would play in to Welsh hands, but he’s bound to be a bit ring rusty so hopefully England’s rush defence will be alive to the odd poor pass and intercept opportunity.

    Can’t believe we have to wait until Sunday.

    1. I think Wales will be expecting our back row to be all over Webb/Priestland, but not so much Lawes/Launchbury, and that is one thing both players are very good at. As both our locks have played a lot at 6, they are very good at pressurising the opposing half-backs.

      1. I forgot about Lawes – how is that possible. Hmm. Webb looked good last week, but don’t remember the French giving him any treatment. Expect a big (hopefully legal (enough)) hit on followed by the predictale comment ” welcome to test rugby”!

  7. I’m a Sarries fan, and although I’ve only seen highlights, I was surprised at how little he seemed to be involved. Although he did put an excellent cover tackle in to deny Tomkins a try. Really didn’t think we were going to win that game either.

    Impressed with Goode at 10? Again only seeing highlights, it was difficult to tell just how well he played.

    1. Ignore this comment. It was supposed to be a reply to Geat’s earlier post.

      Someone else finding it difficult to concentrate today!!!!

  8. Tuilagi back in the sqaud has been good timing. Reckon he has been running at 12t and Burrell all week. If they can stop him they should do fine with Doc Roberts.

    1. Or they could have given him a ‘non-contact’ bib to make sure he didn’t batter them too much!

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