England team to face Italy

Balshaw picked again, Noon returns to midfield, Lipman starts at openside and Payne replaces the injured Sheridan.

What are your thoughts?  Can this side beat Italy?

England team:
Iain Balshaw (Gloucester), Paul Sackey (Wasps), Jamie Noon (Newcastle), Toby Flood (Newcastle), Lesley Vainikolo (Gloucester), Jonny Wilkinson (Newcastle), Andy Gomarsall (Harlequins); Tim Payne (Wasps), Mark Regan (Bristol), Phil Vickery (Wasps – captain), Simon Shaw (Wasps), Steve Borthwick (Bath), James Haskell (Wasps), Michael Lipman (Bath), Nick Easter (Harlequins).

Replacements: Lee Mears (Bath), Matt Stevens (Bath), Ben Kay (Leicester), Luke Narraway (Gloucester), Richard Wigglesworth (Sale), Danny Cipriani (Wasps), Mathew Tait (Newcastle).

19 thoughts on “England team to face Italy

  1. I am completely mystified as to how Jamie Noon has got an England shirt again. As with Joe Worsley, he’s had more than enough chances to justify his place in the team without delivering the goods. Apart from that, fair enough, shame about Sheridan.

  2. I thought Italy offered nothing against Ireland who let themselves get dragged down. The key is for England to not let the same thing happen to them. That requires a solid platform and therefore the loss of Sheridan is huge. Agreed on Noon – he works hard but he’s pretty average.

  3. I’ve always liked Noon’s commitment and I think his big strength is his defence. If you look at us last season though against Italy, defence wasn’t really the problem was it?

    We stood and traded blows with their pack and played a narrow game with too much pick and go from the forwards. Their pack is their strength, as is ours admittedly, even without Sheridan, but our best chance is to get it wide.

    Another problem is that we still don’t have a strong kicking back 3. James Hook was right ahead of last week in saying that getting our back 3 turning would give Wales plenty of territory and that’s exactly what he did.

    I think we’ll do it, just, but this could be one of the closest games between us ever.

  4. Let’s just hope Cipriani, Wigglesworth and Tait get some good game time. Imagine how that would line up – Wiggler and Cipriani in midfield, Flood and Tait in the centre, Sackey and Volcano on the wing. Would be exciting to watch.

  5. AS I have already told Rob, Cipriani will be played in the scrum as part of my cunning plan to outfox the sphinx-like Italians.
    By next year I want to have reduced the average height of anyone in the front and second rows to 5ft 4″, thus making it difficult for the opposition to engage. I will, of course, retain Simon Shaw although he will have to kneel down. But he’ll be great at tossing the pint sized forwards into the air in the lineouts (keeping a firm hand on their legs so they remain “supported”) which should give us a 99.9% success rate. Finally, I shall be playing scrum halves who are a minimum of 6ft 5″ to make sure they are bigger than their Welsh opposite number.
    By ‘eck it’ll be bloomin’ magic.

  6. Brian – the image of Simon Shaw tossing around forwards like some sort of circus act is one that will stick in my mind for a while – hilarious.

  7. Sorry to throw this thread off on a tangent but did anyone watch the rugby club on sky last night? Surely they could have bought the rights to some highlights of the six nations to show? It was embarrassing watching, Ieuan, Scott, Kenny, Will, Paul, Stuart et al chatting about what happened in the matches with no pictures to back up what they were saying.
    Most ridiculous moment was when they went back to 2002/3 season to show some footage of “how Jonny used to play when he was last good”.

  8. Got to say Brian I’m not sure about your plan for picking understrength midgets in the tight five – I like your theory, but it hasn’t worked for Australia. Not yet seen last night’s Rugby Club Spike – have Sky-plussed it for later consumption, but sounds pretty lame. They may as well just write a newspaper column each instead.

    I guess the BBC are just sulking as it’s the only decent rugby they have (unless you count the EDF Energy cup). Seeing as how people with Sky all have a TV licence (in theory!) and have therefore contributed towards their production of the 6N footage, it’s a bit annoying.

    What next eh? Will Sky buy the rights to some of those 1987 World Cup highlights packages off ESPN and show those and say “here’s another tournament where Wales beat England”?

  9. I watched the Rugby Club this morning. Wow – Barnesy was pretty wound up about not dropping Johnny for Cipriani! His arguments were pretty compelling. Greenwood (who clearly has a loyalty to Johnny, which is understandable) argued that Johnny needed one more chance, but surely Italy would be the time to give Cipriani a roll? I was arguing earlier in the week that Johnny should start and Cipriani should get the second half. Still think that is the way to go.

  10. Barnes loves to be associated with the maverick – always has. Also if you read the Sunday Times, him and Stephen Jones have become so polarised in their opinions that they’re hardly worth reading anymore. Barnes is for the youngsters, Jones refuses to consider anyone unless they’re absolutely massive and route 1 – his favourite backs are Tindall and Cohen and he loves Steve Thompson and hates Tait, Flood, Antony Allen, purely because he doesn’t think they’re big enough.

    The truth as ever is somewhere in between in that you need a balance between the 2. And unless he’s had a howler which has robbed him of all confidence, you don’t change your 10 after 1 game.
    Eg, in the French squad, Lievremont may be trying to rotate his squad and give everyone a chance, but you don’t drop your 21 year old fly half after one game in which he played pretty well.

  11. After last week I’m all for doing things differently in the second half.

    That said though, Wasps have a tendency to take their foot off the gas in the second half (both Clermont and Leeds got pummelled by them in the first half but nearly got back in to the game). How much of that has been down to DC’s inexperience? Only one way to find out I suppose.

  12. With the possibilty of Phil being out of the game Saturday I am in a dilemma about who to make captain. I am torn between naming Les Vainikolo, because I do like his hair, or my mate Balshy as he can lead from the rear. I thought about Mr Wilkinson, but I just can’t bring myself to name a captain who can’t spell his name properly. However, I am open to ideas on who should be captain, or somebody to come up with a game plan. Any takers?

  13. Got the lads to play the an anagram game on the plane over to get them thinking. We had a right laugh when Danny pointed out that Leslie Vainikolo was an anagram of “I love a slinkie oil”, and even more of a giggle when Andy G said Simon Shaw was an anagram of “I ask centre”, but I got a bit worried when Jonny said Brian Ashton was an anagram of “Shat on brain”.
    And I couldn’t for the life of me see how Paul Sackey made “Is crap at full back” out of Ian Balshaw. sent them off to bed with a stern talk and no hot chocolate, the rogues.

  14. You run a tight ship Brian, no doubt over who’s in charge in that camp.

    What about Hobson for skipper, he’s clearly harder than the incumbent? Or Geraghty from Second Row perhaps. Keep those Italians guessing…

  15. Starting to get excited now. Had a brainwave last night after eating cheese and crackers for supper. A “rolling” captaincy!!! I will name Jonny as captain and bring him off after 20 minutes, handing the leadership over to Simon. He’ll be off at 30 minutes whereupon it goes to Nick. By the end of the game I reckon we will have had about 6 captains. The Italians won’t know what’s happening, and the boys will be kept on their toes trying to figure out whose next! And best of all nobody gets the blame for lack of leadership. My mate Balshy said it was a stroke of genius when he brought my cup of tea in this morning. Can’t wait to explain it to the lads over boiled eggs and soldiers.

  16. Victory!!! I could see it coming a mile off. At least betwen watching the Corrie Omnibus on satellite TV. These Sunday games are a bloomin’ nuisance. My Mate Balshy was dead upset becuase he loves a bit of Corrie. Anyways, I videoed it for him so he could watch it after the game. Jonny seemed to be doing well so I took him off in the second half to let DC have a crack. And blimey that cheeky little chappy went and gave the Italians a try1!! No biscuits for him tonight. Apart from that we were quite superb, and my paychecks secure for another month. Cracking!!!

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