England Team to face Samoa on Saturday

Martin Johnson has announced the team from Pennyhill Park, with Nick Easter taking over the captaincy from Lewis Moody. 

David Wilson, James Haskell, Hendre Fourie and Matt Banahan are all promoted to the starting side, with Fourie making his first start and Banahan coming in at 13 for Mike Tindall.  The full team is listed below but here is Johnno’s full press conference as he spoke to the media:


Ben Foden (Northampton)
Mark Cueto (Sale)
Matt Banahan (Bath)
Shontayne Hape (Bath)
Chris Ashton (Northampton)
Toby Flood (Leicester)
Ben Youngs (Leicester)

Andrew Sheridan (Sale)
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
David Wilson (Bath)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton)
Tom Palmer (Stade Francais)
James Haskell (Stade Francais)
Hendre Fourie (Leeds)
Nick Easter (Harlequins, CAPTAIN)

Steve Thompson (Leeds)
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
David Attwood (Gloucester)
Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers)
Danny Care (Harlequins)
Charlie Hodgson (Sale Sharks)
Delon Armitage (London Irish)

17 thoughts on “England Team to face Samoa on Saturday

  1. very interesting. i’d guess Moody is too battered and bruised to play 4 in a row but the other changes will affect the team’s consistency. Now that we’ve found a decent 15, should we really be chopping and changing too much, aside from injuries?

    Tindall was the only one i thought could be replaced through performance, but bringing in Banahan at 13 seems plain weird (i know he’s played there for Bath a few times).

  2. It’s reassuring to see that when we make a bunch of replacements we still have a very strong looking team. Let’s hope they go out with the same pace, confidence and determination again on Saturday and keep moving us towards the next World Cup Final.

  3. I wouldn’t say we’re chopping and changing too much, it’s only 4 players coming in, and the benefit of seeing what the others can offer + resting a few is a good thing I reckon. Kidney made 11 changes to his team to play Samoa so at least Johnson hasn’t gone that far!

    Cole, Moody and Croft have played every minute of both Tests so far, and must be knackered. They’ll probably play the full game vs SA so a rest for all three is a v good idea to keep them fresh.

    Watching Ashton supporting and running lines off Banahan at 13 after the big man busts through the gainline (with 3 or 4 players hanging off of him!)… would be quite fun to watch :)

  4. Banahan? For Christ’s sake? Can’t even be bothered to go off on one about that.

    Happyish with other changes. Moody needed a rest and Fourie deserves a chance. Hope Attwood gets some decent pitchtime although happy to see Lawes and Palmer given the chance to build on what they’ve done so far.

    Would have preferred to see Haskell in for Easter to be honest. Think Croft should be a shoo-in as long as we’re playing a game which suits him and have reservations about how long Easter will be around for. Haskell could be the long term solution at 8, as long as he doesn’t just take contact the whole time.

  5. Have to say, I quite like the idea of Banahan at 13. He’s not quick enough for a winger, but he does have good hands and the ability to get over the gain line and with Hape at 12, and the likes of ashton/Foden/Cueto providing supporting play, I’m hopeful for good things.

    Also, I’m quite glad to see a few changes to the team. Although we seem to have found our preferred starting 15, competition for places is always good, and if things aren’t working too well we have the first choice players on the bench (apart from Moody and Tindall) to come in and steady the boat.

    Not sure I would have given Easter the captaincy (personally think I would have gone with Hartley), but hopefully he’ll step up to the challenge.

    Glad to see Attwood making the bench, and hopefully he’ll be given some game time to build confidence and experience.

    The only weakness I see is Wilson at 3. He’s a good club player, but I don’t think he’s an international front rower. Don’t know if I’m the only one, but I can’t wait for Matt Stevens to return to rugby, and with (hopefully) his addition to the bench, I think we’ll have one of the best front rows + bench options in the world.

  6. I can be bothered to go off on one about Banahan. I’ve not seen any evidence that he’s got great hands or the nous to play 13. I know I bang on about Simpson-Daniel but surely he’s a better bet at 13 than Banahan. Armitage must be pretty annoyed too.

    Just a shame that with the other changes being positive (though I agree we need options at No. 8) such a weird selection threatens to overshadow it.

  7. Leave it to me then Stuart, I’ll go off on one about it…..

    Banahan??? Is he serious? So much to be positive about in selection and performance lately and now this. I hope to God he’s not giving him a go with a view to playing him against the Boks.

    I’d rather an out of form Tindall or out of form Armitage. Form is temporary, complete and utter lack of class is permanent. I suppose moving him to centre is one way of limiting the damage of his lack of a kicking game, and as it’s the very physical Samoa we’re playing it will be more useful than normal to have a centre who does nothing but put his head down and run hard straight lines all afternoon.

    A while back, someone on here (I think it may have been you Stuart) wrote a great article about the outside centre position and comparing the rapiers (BOD etc) with the bludgeons (Tindall, Bastareaud etc). I think it’s clear that Banahan falls in to the latter category.

    Good selections otherwise. I like Croft but he’s not consistent enough so it will be good to see if Haskell has brushed up on his penalty laws yet and can force his way back in. I really like Fourie too and would like to see him experience finishing a game on the winning side for a change!

  8. Kemlo, I completely agree with you about preferring JSD to Banahan at 13, but it’s not going to happen. For whatever reason, he is not liked by the coaches/management, and I’m willing to put my trust back in Johnno with his selections – for the time being. Do I think Banahan is an international centre or winger. No. But he is improving his game and hopefully experiences like this will make him into a much better player – and potential future international player. As for selections, yes if I was selecting the team, they are several players I would swap i.e. Robshaw for Haskell, Dowson for Easter, JSD for Banahan, Barkley for Hodgson – chrsit, I’d be happy with an armless monkey rather than Hodgson, but it’s not going to happen lol. Of course, all this is my humble opinion

  9. (According to the Telegraph) – “But England’s attack coach Brian Smith has long identified Banahan, already a lock-turned-wing, as a potential Test-class outside centre.”

    What, just out of interest, did he identify him with I wonder? A pair of comedy spectacles? A giant over-sized magnifying glass?

    That’s why i got a little worried after the Australia game. The media went crazy for MJ, but failed to realise that he’s still got decisions like this within him. Haskell is wildly overrated too, and Dowson must be pretty pissed that he can’t get a look-in even when consistently playing out of his skin.

    Still, rest of the decisions look good. Spine fo the team there, Easter for some experience at captain, Fourie for a bit of a chance on the big stage. Just such a shame that we won’t see JSD at 13.

  10. I fancy Banahan to prove a few people wrong on Saturday. Big, strong, fantastic offloading game, and he’s far from slow. We need alternatives at 13 and with JSD’s comedy injury record whenever England come calling, why waste a place in the team on someone who’ll most likely miss half the season for England.

  11. Paddy, you say Banahan is “Big, strong, fantastic offloading game, and he’s far from slow” but you’ve just described Sonny Bill Williams, who if you’re going to play a monster 13, is kind of how you’d imagine they’d be. Look at some of the tries SBK used to score for the Dogs, or even recently at Toulon, and you’ll see a guy who can run around and well as through, and offloads by hitting an outside shoulder and then giving the pass.

    Banahan just runs very straight with little acceleration and squeezes off an offload once in a blue-moon. And i think he’s going to get shown up at 13 where the ball needs to go through his hands once in a while too.

    I hope i’m proven wrong (as frequently i am), but i reckon not this time.

  12. Im 50/50 on Bananaman and to be honest I think he’ll go either way on Saturday – genius move or dunce move!

    Geech was very impressed with him in the centre for Bath so maybe (and that is a big maybe) there’s something to his game that I havent seen.

    I’d also like to take my comment back about Haskell – it was a little below the belt!!

  13. Some v funny insights above, as usual for TRB! Love Old Alleyan “comedy glasses”!!!

    The England team has some “rugby brains” in it now in key positions , who while young are switched on and will learn form more games against the big guns.

    Glad to see Attwood on the Bench, hes a great addition (and a physics student so clever lad!)

    Im confident that whatever front row option we put out,well be on par/better with any nation – no argument there.We have strength in depth.

    I think there is a big problem with Haskell and that is he can barely read a kids book, let alone read a rugby game.

    He got the brawn..no doubt….but no brain. Thats why Dowson gets my vote (and i think everyone elses). he does the tough stuff, but has a good rugby brain and reads the game.

    Perhaps that is where Easter is strongest, as much as i hate to say it, he does read the game well, making up for his leaden feet.

    If Neil Back rates Fourie , then he must be good.im looking forward to his start more than any other player.

    Banahan!!!!!!!!! Whats the game plan there MJ? Lets see how he gets on then slate him.
    Can anyone think of a SUCCESSFUL centre pairing where the outside centre is really quick?

    World cup winners:
    Tindall – Greenwood – No.
    Fourie-Steyn – No.

    Conrad Smith-SBW/Nonu – not really

    Im not convinced that you need really quick centres, they need to be able to pass and defend.

    So I dont see JSD as an outside centre and while you might pass it at club level, your gain line will get crossed regularly @ in level. Armitage must be pissed off.

    That said, JSD is an out and out winger and i do think should have been included somewhere.

  14. I don’t think JSD is a 13 either but he’s still better than Matt Badhands. I’ve seen no evidence of this offloading game with which he is credited and he’s not even that quick. I also don’t think he’s got the vision to play 13 – the best 13s can all read the game very well. The other element I’m concerned about is that 13 is one of the toughest places on the park to defend, it’s not something you can just pick up to an international standard after a few games. And the tattoo thing he’s got going on, where he has half a picture covering half his body and his brother has the other half so it only makes sense when they’re standing next to each other, is just plain weird and slightly creepy.

    Basically, not much going for him in my book. He may do well on Saturday but that won’t change the view that he is absolutely not the answer at 13 in the long term. Jimmymc I sort of agree with you about centre combinations but at the same time find it a bit depressing. Think of the all the awesome 13s down the years like Gibson, Sella, Guscott, O’Driscoll, Bunce, Gerber and the likes of Duckham and Gerald Davies who also played there at times, and now it’s a mainly defensive position. I play there myself and it is largely defensive. But I still maintain that someone with that extra attacking edge in that position can absolutely change a game for you. I don’t see any of England’s options there doing that.

    Agree that Dowson must be wondering what he has to do, and Robshaw has probably got a more rounded game than Haskell as well as the most ridiculous engine. Would have been keen to see Joe Simpson get a look in on the bench instead of Care as well. He’s electric.

  15. Ive changed my mind, i think banahan will get exposed by the best 13 in world rugby….Mapasua!
    Banners will come off, armitage on.

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