England team to face Australia

Martin Johnson has finally announced the England team that will take on Australia at Twickenham this weekend, and here is the line-up.

15 Ugo Monye (Harlequins)
14 Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks)
13 Dan Hipkiss (Leicester Tigers)
12 Shane Geraghty (Northampton Saints)
11 Matt Banahan (Bath Rugby)
10 Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon)
9 Danny Care (Harlequins)
1 Tim Payne (London Wasps)
2 Steve Thompson (CA Brive)
3 Dave Wilson (Bath Rugby)
4 Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers)
5 Steve Borthwick (Saracens, Captain)
6 Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers)
7 Lewis Moody (Leicester Tigers)
8 Jordan Crane (Leicester Tigers)

16 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
17 Duncan Bell (Bath Rugby)
18 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
19 James Haskell (Stade Francais)
20 Paul Hodgson (London Irish)
21 Andy Goode (CA Brive)
22 Ayoola Erinle (Biarritz Olympique)

What do you think?

We’ll be interviewing Paul Ackford this evening to get his thoughts, so if there’s anything you’d like to ask him about the team and England’s prospects this month, feel free to leave a question along with your feedback on the team.

25 thoughts on “England team to face Australia

  1. Given the way English players have picked up injuries so far this season, there seems a passing chance that someone will take a knock on Saturday. Wonder what the gameplan is there?

    Wilko out = Goode on and Goode takes the kicks
    Wilko out = Erinle on, Geraghty to 10 and Geraghty kicking

    Banahan out = Erinle on the wing
    Banahan out = Monye to wing and Goode at full back

    etc etc

    None of those moves look like keeping the shape of the back line. There’s a danger that one or two forced changes would mess England around more than usual.

  2. Agree with the doubts about Thommo. Nice bloke and he’s worked hard to get back but his line-out throws were often awry at key moments.

  3. Steve Thompson in for Hartley is a bit of a surprise for me, and after all the talk of injuries and a fresh young squad, there is not a single debutant!

    Erinle and Lawes will hopefully get on though…

  4. Steve Thompson is an interesting choice, perhaps choosing an old adversary of the Wallabies to get under their skin in the front row. Goode on the bench is baffling but Johnno does still seem capable of such choices – will Jonny last the full match? Thought Strettle would get a shout but obviously he was sent home earlier. Is this a side capable of winning?

  5. Hopefully Geraghty is covering 10 with Goode as a last resort. Not sure what Hartley has got to do to get a start.

    I’ve got a debate for the rugbyblog readers. Is Borthwick and Deacon the worst ever second row to play for England?

    I am struggling even with the tour to hell and the South Africa tour a few years ago taken into account.

  6. Is it 2003 again? As much as I dislike Hartley, are we seriously expected to beleive there is no better English to than Thommo? its been 6 years since the RWC win and he’s probably not played for 4 of those.

    Like the look of the backline though. Judging by this selection you might want to ask Mr Ackford if he’s bought his boots.

  7. It shouldn’t surprise anyone who read the “10 players released…” blog that this team makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry.

    Thompson over Hartley
    Hodgson over Care
    Moody AND Crane over Haskell
    Deacon over anyone….especially Lawes
    Monye at full-back (can’t get interception tries from there…)

    The only reason I can see for picking Deacon over Lawes is weight at scrum time. But there’s only 5kg difference between the two and we could have picked a heavier enough back-row to make up that difference (Croft, Crane, Haskell). I’m not even going to point out that Nick Kennedy is heavier than Borthwick, Deacon and Lawes by some margin…..

  8. I think Lawes will come on early in the second half and play well enough to earn a starting place against Argentina. Deacon won’t do anything remarkable in the first half, he might make the bench for the second game but will gradually fade away from the top level…

  9. No prizes for guessing the game plan then, with Croft the only mobile forward in the pack. No idea how Deacon is in there, given he even looks average in a club game.

    Also second the worry about the back-line replacements. Erinle’s a centre not a wing (and not a very good one in my opinion), and there’s no-one to cover any of the back 3.

    Having said that, I don’t know who else I’d select. Foden has his fallabilities, especially if coming into a key position late in a tight match, Tait hasn’t played well since the 07 RWC Final, and there are no other fit full-backs. I don’t like the notion of Monye at 15, but maybe he is simply the only option we have!

  10. The thing that frustrates me to the point of apathy is that we haven’t had a season go by since 2003 where we’ve been able to pick a consistent side. We’ve barely even been able to get the same combinations going for more than a game or two. Some of that is due to selection but most of it is due to injuries.

    It makes it very difficult to judge Johnno and his team as selectors. They must have had umpteen meetings about changing combinations and strategies each time one of their starting 22 went down and they’ve ended up here – a no-nonsense brute of a pack, a points scorer extraordinaire and a bit of pace and power out wide with a couple of unproven game-changers on the bench.

    It’s not inspiring but it’s making do with a very limited deck.

  11. Spike, agreed by why is the deck so limited? As I said on a previous post, we must have the highest or second highest number of players in the world and surely the highest budget for our national team and yet we have this team. I know there have been a lot of injuries but even so.

  12. Struggling to come up with a worse 4/5 combo Kemlo. And the crazy thing is, he has a reasonable amount of choice there, even with injuries (give me Lawes and Kennedy over this pair of dead-weights any time).

    Thompson over Hartley caught me completely by surprise. I heard Hartley was nursing a hamstring, but if he’s on the bench I assume he is fit? In which case, this is a ridiculous selection. Very worried about the line-out. With players like Hartley and Kennedy in the frame, we have the potential to cement that as a truly world class part of our game. If it doesn’t work out this weekend, Johnno’s going to look pretty stupid.

  13. The only reason I can think for picking Deacon is that Borthwick suddenly looks world-class in comparison…

  14. Uncle Mat has it dead on with the hooker selection. If Hartley isn’t fit to start, he isn’t fit to play. You can’t have a partially-injured player on the bench, especially a front-rower. If Hartley has to come on for Thompson for whatever reason, he needs to be ready to play whatever.

    If Hartley isn’t fully fit and ready to go, call up Chuter.

    If Hartley IS fully fit and ready to go….why is Thompson starting?!!!

  15. with regard to the linouts, one can only assume that with the two locks and all three back rowers being ‘proper’ jumpers (unlike, for example, Nick Easter – Wouldn’t fancy being his prop), Thommo will manage to hit one of them, most of the time.

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  17. Well, having got myself all excited about who would be selected I find myself yet again confused, angry and very worried.

    Hartley, who up till now, has been our no. 2 choice Hooker with Mears no. 1. Mears is out, so why is Hartley still benching? Thought Thompson was our no. 4 choice behind chuter?

    Lawes is gonna wish he had never been called up. If things go tits up (and I’m now guessing they will), and he is brought on but yet we still lose, he’ll be dropped like every other debutant in the past few years. His confidence will be shattered and he’ll probably become another Tait etc etc. With the like’s of Kennedy and Lawes available, Deacon should be no where near selection. Excuse my language but what a fucking joke!

    Back row is ok, but would still have had Armitage and Haskell over Moody and Crane – interestingly its an all Leicester back row. Favouritism?

    Starting backs are actually alright, but as everyone has already mentioned, what if players are forced to be changed. Our game plan, structure and potential are right out the window. There’s obviously no game plan 2, 3 or 4. Its a case of hope and pray and if things go tits up, we’ll wing it.

    The back’s subs are awful – not including Hodgson. Goode should be nowhere near the squad and with Geraghty also a 10, we already have cover there, so why put Goode on the bench? Waste of a sub! Erinole? Really! Are we that short of options? Tait might not be playing great, but at least he can cover 4 of the 7 back positions.

    All in all, the Aussies must be pissing themselves laughing

    Good luck boys……………………. we’re gonna need it

  18. Me feelin’ that for real Tommy. The thought of Goode getting on again is appalling, almost as bad as the prospect of seeing Julian White.

    What odds we end up with uncontested scrums? Given the three front row starters we have (and only two on the bench) it has to be highly likely. I guess the new rules don’t apply to this series, but does that mean that if we go to uncontested because of England injuries we don’t have to go down to 14 like under the new GP rules?

  19. Justin, Erinlee has been playing centre/wing for his french club. Ontop of that, Cueto can move to 15 if needs be.

    I really think the Monye @ 15 decision is a missed trick, Foden would have been a good choice imo he’s the most exciting 15 in the GP right now.

    QUite a slow pack, but no more so thent eh SA pack before Brussow, moody and croft playing left and right is not that bad, but I’d still liked to have sene JH at 8.

    Care is the right call for me need someone who’ll keep the Australian backrow honest with these ponderous forwards, and we all know he loves to run, that’ll give wilko the extra time he needs on the ball. problem is going to be are we going to win the breakdown? and i have to be honest i don’t see it.

  20. Slightly of the subject, but just thought of something which has got me quite excited for the ENG vs NZ game – Wilko vs Carter. Thats going to be an amazing contest!

  21. First rule of international back selection, pick footballers (look at any McGeechan selection) – guys who can pass, kick and have an appreciation of space. The only two who have this are Wilkinson and Geraghty. The back three will be found out big time tomorrow. Monye, Cueto and Bananaman – dear oh dear ! Not one footballing brain cell between them. Andy Foode and Erinle on the bench – zero options if plan A fails. Giteau will have a field day if he gets any sort of ball. Aussies comfortably by 15.

  22. Andy Goode? He’s not been playing well at Brive and I can’t see what can offer that Wilkinson can’t. Well apart from really bad hair.

    Thompson: Is he really the best hooker we have?

    As for Wilkinson, I can’t wait to see him back to his best and linking up with Geraghty and Care, and then Hipkiss bashing though the line. Apparently they’ve been sparking in training so let’s hope it carries through to Saturday.


    I’m pleased that Jordan Crane’s finally got a start as he really deserves it I think. I know people say Haskell should have been picked there but he’s not been playing at number 8 regularly enough this season.

    Monye @ 15? Bit of a weird one, although Cueto and Erinle can cover this position. I hoped that Foden might get a look in but maybe Johnno thinks it’s too soon for him.

    Courtney Lawes: I’m glad he’s included and I hope he comes off the bench. I’m just worried that he’s been hyped up too much that the pressure might tell. It’s got to be hard to be hailed as the next Martin Johnson, especially at 20 years old. Playing in your first match for England is stressful enough.

    Deacon and Borthwick: not dynamic enough if you ask me. Johnno’s playing it safe, but will bring Lawes on for Deacon and see if it changes the dynamics for the better.

    England have got a tough job to win this one, as although Australia are on a losing streak they have lost all their recent games to SA and NZ, who aren’t exactly a walk in the park.


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