England team to face New Zealand at Twickenham

Martin Johnson has just named his squad to face the All Blacks at Twickenham on Saturday in the first of England’s four Autumn Internationals.

England team:
Ben Foden (Northampton)
Mark Cueto (Sale)
Mike Tindall (Gloucester)
Shontayne Hape (Bath)
Chris Ashton (Northampton)
Toby Flood (Leicester)
Ben Youngs (Leicester)

Andrew Sheridan (Sale)
Steve Thompson (Leeds)
Dan Cole (Leicester)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton)
Tom Palmer (Stade Francais)
Tom Croft (Leicester)
Lewis Moody (Bath, capt)
Nick Easter (Harlequins)

Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
David Wilson (Bath Rugby)
David Attwood (Gloucester Rugby)
Hendrie Fourie (Leeds Carnegie)
Danny Care (Harlequins)
Charlie Hodgson (Sale Sharks)
Delon Armitage (London Irish)

What are your thoughts? Is this the team to beat the All Blacks?

26 thoughts on “England team to face New Zealand at Twickenham

  1. No huge surprises in the starting team, although I would have picked Hartley over Thompson…

    As expected, no room for Dowson or Sinbad!

  2. hutch – haskell isnt the answer, hes a dull witted show pony. seriously, he hasnt got a footballing brain.

    on the front foot when everything is going well, hes fine.
    on the back foot when things are getting tight, hes a liability.

    thats why, sadly, Easter is the best we have @ 8.

  3. Not necessarily saying that Haskell should be in there…Fourie is the only back row cover though, so it wouldn’t take much to force a reshuffle in the back five of the scrum.

  4. Seriously, what was the point of calling up these replacements? If I was them, I’m been pretty pissed off right now – especially as they’re the “in form” players. Johnno wants solid, defensive players in the centre – fine, but at least than put pace on the wing! Cueto is a good, reliable player, but he is not of “international” standard now and he definitely doesn’t have the pace to take someone on the outside anymore. Also, how has Thompson been picked over Hartley? Hartley has been brilliant for Northampton (2nd in Premiership), where Thompson has been struggling for a starting place at Leeds (last in Premiership). Doesn’t make sense to me

  5. Word from Johnno was that the replacements were called up so that if there are any last minute changes required, the guys know what they are doing.

    For me it’s a positive indication that the England management know of their existence and that they aren’t as far away from the squad as it has seemed. A few (more) big games for their clubs and they could well force their way in for the Six Nations, or the end of November if there are one or two more injuries.

  6. I don’t have a problem with Cueto being in there. His pace has never really been his strength and he’s a very solid footballer with a good shoe on him which balances the back 3 quite well alongside the flair of Foden and Ashton. Although obviously would rather have Sinbad. And no matter who you’d prefer, at least they haven’t picked Banahan.

    Pretty uninspiring midfield – remember when Balshaw, Healey, Luger and Robinson were steaming on to the wide bullet passes of Mike Catt? Yeah, don’t think we’ll be seeing much of that. Odd that the captain of that team has forgotten all about that. Having said that there’s nobody with a particularly great passing range who could have been picked.

    Out of interest, who in the England team do you think would get into the New Zealand team? I’m currently on 1 (Youngs). Possibly 2 (Ashton) given that Cory Jane is injured.

    England by 12.

  7. To be fair, there’s only a few selections that I strongly disagree with, so i’m relatively happy with the selction. The selections i strongly disagree with are as follows:

    8. Easter. I know people are saying “he’s the best we have”, but thats a load of crap. Dowson is far better. My best, and only real suggestion for solving this issue is to convert a 6 into an 8 – possible options are Dowson or Robshaw.

    12. Hape. Barritt has been the in form 12 so far this season, and he offers more than Hape. 2nd choice would then be Barkley

    14. Cueto. Although I think Cueto is a good player, I feel strongly that if we are to go with a “defensive” centre partnership, than we have to have slightly more exciting players in the back 3. JSD would compliment Ashton and Foden and completely change the look of our backs (IMO)

  8. Clearly Johnno’s strategy was to start with the winning test team, and only make changes if there was a compelling case. Fine in principle, but how compelling was the case for Hartley, Dowson and Barkley (would certainly prefer to have Barkley on the bench than bloody Hodgson)? At least he’s listened to us on Lawes and Foden I guess. On balance this is a better selection than we’ve seen from him before (only a couple of complaints that are fairly close calls).

    What’s the deal with front row cover? Only two on the bench – could be into uncontested scrums pretty early then.

  9. well said tommy.
    i agree except id rather have narraway @ 8.hes been pkaying 7/8 all seson and captaining when tins on england duty.

    Number 8s do not have to be 18+ stone these days.
    they need to be mobile ball carriers who can play .

    Will Greenwoods telegraph 15 included Easter and he really rates him, and includes his 2007 worlkd cup final performance, which annoys me as i respect greenwoods insights!

  10. I think Narraway has been great this season, but I also think Robshaw and Dowson have been more consistant over a longer period and so would be my first choices for trialing. That said, I’d honestly prefer Father Christmas at 8 than Nick Easter (at least the opposition might stop and let him pass after they’ve been given a present/treat) lol. The days of “big” no. 8’s is over (has been for a long time), and for someone who played with Dallaglio, I’m surprised Johnno hasn’t picked up on this.

  11. Well Dallaglio had a cracking game in the 2003 World Cup final and nobody’s suggestng picking him. I like Greenwood as well but matches played 3 years ago are surely irrelevant.

    Tommy, good point re needing attacking wingers with a defensive centre partnership. Against that though, what we also have is an entirely non-kicking centre partnership (I know Tins hits it a long way but he kicks like a mule). Takes a bit off Flood, whose kicking from hand is not the greatest, having another kicker in there and Cueto has a great boot. Although I, like you, would have preferred Barkley and Sinbad to Hape and Cueto.

    No huge objections to Easter although not his biggest fan – the key man in our back row is Croft and if having a solid number 8 and a certifiable lunatic at 7 give him the space to play like he was able to for the Lions then I’ll be happy.

    Has to be said though that just about every 50-50 call has gone the way of the more conservative option which is frustrating. But that’s Johnno.

    Also, UM, 2 front row on the bench is standard in internationals. It’s only in the Prem where you have 3, for better or for worse.

  12. Team looks fine to me. I don’t mind Cuets in there as he’s got a good boot, will help the other 2 in the back 3 with positioning and you’d back him to defend well.

    Could challenge but i’m not getting too excited especially after the AB’s just lost.

  13. errr, I’m not entirely convinced about Mike Ford’s comments that I’ve just read on the BBC website. Thought they might be tongue-in-cheek at one point, but no such luck. If he doesn’t want a test match to have a lot of points, and doesn’t want to attempt to score just after the opposition have scored, maybe he’s happy with a 20-0 defeat – at least that way he’s shown as defensive coach that he’s stopped a 30- or 40- point defeat…

    His comments really look like the coaching team are adopting an ’emu’ strategy – heads in the ground, we’re not going to play the way the new kids want to play, we’re not going to listen to everything everybody is telling us about how the game’s moved on. nah-nah-ne-nah-nah.

    England defence coach Mike Ford is determined to keep the game tight.
    “Three of those [Tri-Nations] matches averaged 77 points and to me that isn’t Test rugby,” he said.
    “Even on Saturday, which was a fantastic game [when Australia beat New Zealand 26-24], there were 50 points.
    “We want to make this a good old-fashioned rugby game. Whatever you think that means, we know what we think it means and we’re pretty confident with what we can do defensively.
    “We have a ‘no excuse’ mentality. It’s never a case of us saying: ‘They’ve just scored one so we’ll go back and score one at the other end’.”

  14. O dear god! I can understand as defence coach you don’t want to be letting the opposition score points, but to say scoring points isn’t test rugby just highlights to flaws of English rugby! Ford must of been watching the Bath vs Harlequins game and thinking “now thats real rugby. No one has scored more than 6 points. We must try and recreate this at test level”. IDIOT!!!

  15. Yes, he did actually say those things, and there was an audible sigh when he said:

    “We want to make this a good old-fashioned rugby game.”

    Everyone knows what that means! Sorry Ben, sorry Chris, you won’t be seeing much of the ball.

    I’ve chosen to shut these comments out and maintain optimism. Most of what was said is just media guff and you can’t read too much into it.

  16. This is slightly more encouraging though:

    “When we’ve got the ball it is the opposite of what Mike is talking about – we want to play very quickly,’ said the manager. ‘We want to get hold of the ball, attack, put them under pressure and try to expose their defence, as the Australians did.
    ‘It’s not about playing to a structure and being a slave to that. We’re going to need to play. We have to go out there and take our shot.”

  17. Easter we knew he would be picked. Thompson in stead of Hartley is kind of surprising but for the rest it looks ok. Not exactly what I should have picked but more decent then ever before!

  18. Am slightly heartened by all the journos saying that Ford’s comments were Tongue in cheek. Let’s hope so but to be honest on past performance, you would bet against that being the case…

    Will be interesting to see how Sonny Bill plays – could be a big game from him…

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