England team to face Pacific Islanders

There are four new caps in Martin Johnson’s first team selection for this weekend’s match against the Pacific Islanders.

Delon Armitage, Riki Flutey, Ugo Monye and Nick Kennedy will all take their bow on Saturday. Jamie Noon fills the Outside Centre berth, whilst Lee Mears is preferred to Dylan Hartley at hooker.

James Haskell misses out in the back row, with Nick Easter coming in at Number 8.

Let me know what you think, and any comments posted here may be used in The Rugby Paper this weekend.

England: D Armitage (London Irish); P Sackey (Wasps), J Noon (Newcastle), R Flutey (Wasps), U Monye (Harlequins); D Cipriani (Wasps), D Care (Harlequins); A Sheridan (Sale Sharks), L Mears (Bath), M Stevens (Bath), S Borthwick (Saracens, captain), N Kennedy (London Irish), T Croft (Leicester), T Rees (Wasps), N Easter (Harlequins).

Replacements: D Hartley (Northampton), P Vickery (Wasps), T Palmer (Wasps), J Haskell (Wasps), M Lipman (Bath), H Ellis (Leicester), T Flood (Leicester).

10 thoughts on “England team to face Pacific Islanders

  1. no real surprises, especially as johnno’s been hamstrung (literally) with injuries. Interesting that Hartley and Haskell have been benched, but that provides some good impact off the bench and Easter adds some bulk to the back row. One thing that worries me is the backs cover on the bench. Ellis and Flood as cover for the back 7 positions? what if any of monye, sackey or armitage get injured….that’ll leave us massively exposed!
    Overall – exciting times for a new era.

  2. I wonder if Johnno has left Haskell out because of his sometimes dodgy temperament – would be ironic when you remember what Johnno was like in his early England days! Joking apart though, you can’t argue with Croft getting picked ahead of him at the moment, and I’m sure Haskell will figure in this series.

    Mears ahead of Hartley will probably raise the most eyebrows, but I always thought there was a huge gap between Mears’ club and country form last year, caused mostly by the dour gameplan England had, and once we play a more open game it could suit Mears well and we’ll see the best of him.

    All in all, after a woeful 6 Nations where finishing second failed to paper over the cracks, and a badly timed run of injuries in recent weeks, this looks a good side and I’ve not looked forward to an Autumn series so much for several years.

  3. Overall it’s pretty good I think. You know what you are getting from Noon, and he won’t miss a tackle.

    Interesting that much has been made of the All Blacks selection for the Scotland game, ringing changes etc, and they have 3 new caps and we have 4!

    Haskell will be livid to be dropped, which must be a good thing. He’ll be fired up when he gets on.

    Can’t wait for the game.

  4. A lot more pressure on Cipriani now that the backline contains so many new caps. He coped last time but it will take a lot of concentration and leadership to keep everyone else in line. No other stand-out leaders in the back line.
    Also agree with Justin – when was the last time anyone picked 5 forwards, 2 backs on the bench. Could become very interesting if, say, Monye and Sackey get injured in the first 10mins – Haskell on the wing Vainikolo style?

  5. Very interesting team selection from Johnno, and finally someone that selects on form! The inclusion of Stevens, Kennedy, Croft, Care, Flutey, Armitage and Monye shows that if the players perform at their clubs they’ll be rewarded by being given a test place!

  6. Yes I must admit, I hadn’t thought about the backs situation. If there was an injury in the back 3 though they could reshuffle a bit as Cipriani has played at full-back for Wasps and Flood or Flutey could then cover at 10, but why put ourselves in the position of having to shuffle 2 or maybe 3 players around for one injury.

    Anyway, we’re all worrying about nothing – who says injuries will be an issue – the Pacific Islanders are a bunch of lightweights who can’t tackle as we all know! I wish.

  7. I’m really disappointed that Jordan Crane has missed out. Hes been on fire so far this season and offers the same presence and ball carrying that Easter brings, but he’s also got a bit more pace and is a bit more exciting.

    I admit Easter has great hands, but i wonder if Jordan has missed out because there are so many other new caps?

  8. Hi
    Martin Johnson is no fool he will blend a team in time time that will beat the world,he was a great player and in my mind he will be great as a manager,but I am sure we will have to be patient,and we must stick by his selections.
    Good luck Martin

  9. I don’t think the Pacific Islands will do this for one second but they should just spend all afternoon putting kicks behind our back 3.
    Armitage has got a great boot and some gas but his decision making is dodgy and he hasn’t been playing full back. Sackey has improved massively but still looks pretty shaky under kicks at times. And I watched Quins v Cardiff last year, Monye marked a ball on his own line, his clearance kick didn’t even make the 22, went straight down someone’s throat and 4 seconds later Cardiff had scored.
    Plenty of gas going forward there though so I think the inclusion of a direct, Mortlock-style centre like Noon is crucial to give the side shape and create room. The best at that is actually Tindall (Gloucester are a different side with him on the pitch) but Noon does a job.
    Glad Kennedy’s getting a run. Still thoroughly unconvinced by Borthwick. Hope to be proved wrong.

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