England v New Zealand: England player ratings

15: Mike Brown: 7.5
Capped a stellar autumn with another all-action performance at the back. Safe under the high ball and dangerous on the counter attack, he is the man who has most enhanced his reputation over the three games.

14. Chris Ashton: 5
Not terrible but not brilliant either. Once again, plenty of endeavour but little reward to show for it. One aimless grubber kick after a good period of English pressure was a particular lowlight. Defence was better than the previous couple of weeks, however.

13. Joel Tomkins: 4.5
Has sadly not been able to recreate his Saracens form on the international stage, and barring a similar injury crisis in the midfield it’s unlikely he’ll feature again for England. Made eight carries without passing or offloading the ball once, and missed more tackles than he made.

12. Billy Twelvetrees: 6.5
Another encouraging performance from Billy Twelvetrees, who ran more direct lines than he had in the past couple of weeks – something that is necessary outside Farrell, who has a propensity to crab. Carried the ball on 13 occasions in total, and in the claustrophobia of the 12 channel made an impressive 55 metres.

11. Ben Foden: 5.5
Did well to marshall the dangerous Charles Piutau, but had few opportunities to impress going forward. Almost ran the length for a shrewdly-taken intercept try, but was called back for advantage over from a previous phase. A solid outing, but is much more effective in his preferred fullback role.

10. Owen Farrell: 6
Credit where it is due, Farrell was faultless from the tee, which effectively kept England in the game. But there is so much frustration surrounding him with ball in hand – unless there is a man charging off his shoulder on a short line, he cannot continue to run so laterally, eating up space for the men outside him. The Kiwis catch and pass while running straight, letting the ball do the work. Farrell needs to work on this side of his game.

9. Lee Dickson: 6.5
Another industrious performance from Dickson, whose autumn has got steadily better as it has gone on. Game management was excellent, although he has rarely interested the fringe defenders during these three games.

1. Joe Marler: 7
Part of a front row that was on top of their Kiwi counterparts, and also made a few strong carries, recalling the Marler of old. Unlikely to usurp Corbisiero or Vunipola but to have him as a third choice is a luxury for England.

2. Dylan Hartley: 8
Superb stuff from Hartley who has had an overwhelming positive autumn. A pillar of physicality without, crucially, ever overstepping the mark. Disciplinary issues have always cost him, but if he can continue to sit on the right side of the aggression/thuggery line, he is England’s number one hooker.

3. Dan Cole: 6.5
Effective in the scrum and a nuisance at the breakdown, it was a decent day out for Cole. Has allayed some of the fears that he is not currently performing at his best.

4. Joe Launchbury: 7.5
Another of England’s standout performers, before he was forced off with an injury. Has an insatiable work-rate, and is more often than not the man to pop up on the shoulder of an attacker looking to offload. Showed excellent composure to pick up and dot down a bobbling ball for his try.

5. Courtney Lawes: 8
Like Launchbury, has a very high work rate, but with an added bite about him. There were a couple of trademark massive hits and, in combination with Hartley, the line-out was flawless.

6. Tom Wood: 7
Mr. Dependable rounded off a good autumn with another solid performance against New Zealand. He has been a bit more obvious with ball in hand of late, which is an encouraging addition to the other, less-seen aspects of his game.

7. Chris Robshaw: 7
As always, worked harder than anyone else – and that is saying something amongst a pack that prides itself on its work-rate. Made a bold and ultimately right decision to go for the corner in the first half, and was England’s top tackler.

8. Billy Vunipola: 7.5
Vunipola has looked completely at home in test rugby this autumn. Given time, he could rival the best in his position in the world. As it is he is still very much an unpolished diamond, but certainly a diamond – there was more strong ball-carrying in evidence against New Zealand.

Replacements: 6.5
Ben Morgan was the pick of the replacements, and will head back to Gloucester rejuvenated after a couple of impressive cameos from the bench. Tom Youngs had a poor day at the line-out, while brother Ben and Toby Flood failed to spark the England attack in the final quarter. Geoff Parling worked hard, and there were a couple of nice touches from the much-maligned Alex Goode.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

50 thoughts on “England v New Zealand: England player ratings

  1. Would have given Twelvetrees and Launchbury and extra half mark each. It was a fantastic game; and things are going in the right direction which is great to see. The options in the pack are fantastic, at 9 we also have really good options.

    If the 6N was to start tomorrow and everyone was magically fit, this would be my team:
    1. Corbs 2. Hartley 3. Cole 4. Launchbury 5. Lawes 6. Wood 7. Robshaw 8. Vunipola 9. Youngs 10. Farrell 11. Yarde 12. Twelvetrees 13. Tuilagi 14. Wade 15. Foden.
    16. Youngs 17. Vunipola 18. Wilson 19. Parling 20. Morgan 21. Dickson 22. Flood 23. Brown

    The good news is, most positions have two players that can easily slot in, and some positions even have 3. The bad news is the centre options currently are limited. Unfortunately Tomkins doesn’t look good enough, Barritt never has been for me either. Twelvetrees I thought was excellent after his Australian nightmare, and will only get better. Him and Tuilagi could genuinely be useful; but outside of those two, I genuinely worry.

    At full back; pick one of Brown/Foden and have the other in the 23 shirt. I really like both players but despite Browns excellent Autumn I still think Foden is more dangerous.

    The wings have not looked great – time to throw in Wade and Yarde and hope to God they cut it. They at least both score tries.

    10 seems to be debatable in some minds; but not mine. Until a 10 outperforms Farrell domestically (which nobody had coming into the AIs), then as limited as he is, he is out best option. Let him keeping working on his passing game; it is improving.

      1. What guys do you mean?

        Burrell, Eastmond? Both decent 12 options but not proven.

        Mabye Trinder at 13? Again nothing proven.

        1. They may not be proven, but who is unless given the chance?

          JJ, Eastmond (if he manages to keep his attitude in check), Burrell and Trinder are all able centres that i think would work at the top level.

          Perhaps a few maybe’s in JTH, Lowe and Allen.

          1. I think you are being pretty generous. All of these players have huge maybes over their head. let’s remember JJ and JTH have had pretty recent changes and looked nowhere near good enough.

            Lowe I don’t think is anywhere near international class.

            I agree with you that without being given a chance we won’t know; but we are still miles from having strength in depth there. Even the players banded about don’t fill me with huge amounts of confidence. Burrell and Trinder are the most likely I think; but even then I’m not convinced.

  2. I’m going to say the 6 for Farrell is harsh.

    He does need to work on his distribution, BUT, made some good breaks which is something he hasn’t really done.

    Ashton frustrates me. His defence in this game was better, he ran good lines and appeared to back himself against the Kiwi defence, but that kick ahead show’s his poor decision making, that should ultimately cost him his place in the England squad.

    I can’t imagine Wade/Yarde/Strettle/May/Sharples/Foden/Brown doing that!

  3. Whilst I agree Brown has had a great series, am I the only person to question why you rarely see him breaking tackles and making good runs in the oppositions 22? Can’t remember him having any clear cut try scoring opportunities.

    Can T Youngs get a minus score?

    Not sure SL comes out of this series with full marks. He made himself a hostage to fortune not trying out other centre options like Burrell or Eastmond either from the start or the bench in the earlier matches which meant we had to go with Tomkins, who was awful. I aslo find his substitutions very robotic. Youngs would have come on for Hartley injury or not. And why not have both Morgan and Billy V on? With Robshaw’s eye he had the ideal opportunity to put Billy at 6, Wood at 7 and Morgan at 8. Chasing the game this could have been very tasty. Think outside the box for once.

    1. To be fair to SL, you’ve assumed on the Hartley change (although you are probably right).

      Also, there is not way Billy Vunipola can play 80 minutes. That is the limitations of having Morgan on the bench, you have to change him for Vunipola. Whilst his fitness is improving he was dead when went off. It’s the same with Morgan – so whilst they work well on an impact level, all the time we play like that (with two 8s in the 23 who can’t last more than an hour), then we are limiting ourselves. Luckily Robshaw and Wood are machines!

    2. Agree with you on Brown. He’s been world class in his own half, but we have to get him into the game more in attack.

  4. Now who improved their standing over the course of the AI’s and who’s standing went down.

    I would say that those who looked better after the AI’s include:-

    Brown – he’s made me a believer now, but still not convinced that he has the same vision as Foden.
    Dickson – shown he can do it at the top level.
    Marler – shown what an able deputy he is in the scrummaging department as well as the loose.
    Hartley – Has finally brought maturity to his game, and upped his effectiveness.
    Lawes – Another one to win me over with new found maturity and play.
    Vunipola – has shown he can mix it with the best. More to come.
    Morgan – shown that he shouldn’t have been written off due to club form. Burns detractors take note!
    Wilson – has added play around the park to his repertoire.
    Tuilagi – you only really appreciate what you have when it’s not there!

    Who’s gone down:-

    Ashton – just hasn’t looked up to it despite more lives than a cat.
    Tomkins – just hasn’t looked up to it. Period (as the yanks like to say!)
    T Youngs – a bad case of the throwing yips. Will bounce back when he sorts these out (IMO).
    Parling – bad time to get injured. Not so much a case of him going down, more a case of the other Locks going up.
    Croft – not missed. (Would still have him in my squad though).
    Care – seems to have drifted to no. 3.

    Might have missed someone out, but think most of the rest probably came out about even, albeit in a couple of cases where they had their downs and ups – 36!
    B Youngs – overtaken by Dickson.

  5. Lawes needs an extra ranking for, in addition to his superhuman shift at lock, stepping in and playing outside centre more effectively than the big ex-league lump who was theoretically playing in that position. Absolutely herculean effort from the big guy in that match, plus he managed a few of his trademark catch-you-dead tackles.

    I think slightly charitable for Farrell, dock half a point. He’s not well served by having Tomkins outside but he certainly does crab too much and can’t put the ball in front of the man.

    After several years of skepticism I am now an enthusiastic Dylan Hartley convert, and have become very concerned that Tom Youngs is going to prove unable to replicate his Lions success for England. That was a woeful performance from the big guy, and I would not be unhappy seeing him dropped from the bench to make way for Webber in the 6 Nations.

    Regarding Eastmond, the fact that he left the stadium at half-time during Bath’s recent match suggests he has an attitude problem standing between him and the England set up. There’s not much use throwing around recriminations now though: we tried Tomkins as the replacement for Manu thanks in part to a lack of decent alternatives. We now know that was the wrong call, and it’s time to find somebody else to take the role in February. My money’s on JJ, he’s the most like-for-like replacement to Manu because he beats defenders (though he uses footwork instead of brute force) and doesn’t offload much.

    1. I’ve no idea what the full story is with Eastmond, but if Alex Goode was selected ahead of me I would consider walking away as well!

  6. Think the marks are pretty fair, could argue some of the pack deserve an extra half mark or mark (given they won almost 2/3rds of the ball against the best team in the world).

    Tomkins was a 2. He touched the ball 8 times (3 of which resulted in turnovers), didn’t pass or kick it once, made 1 tackle and missed 2. We should have gone with Burrell to at least have one guy in the middle who can give us some go-forward (in the absence of the only player that has given us any go-forward). But even so I was optimistic Tomkins may do OK on the back of decent club form, but he’s been woefully short of international class. Given he got the nod for the first match I agree with keeping him for the next 2 to give him a proper chance, but has to be cut loose now.

    I don’t like Dickson and Farrell as a pairing. Getting the ball away from the ruck faster works if there is someone outside who will make use off the faster service. Also having no running threat from 9 or 10 makes it too easy for defenders to drift across to the centres, which results in no space for them to do anything with. Think we have to look at Youngs/Farrell or Dickson/Burns as the combinations going forward.

    1. Completely agree with you in regards lack of running threat from the half backs.

      The whole crabbing issue with SHs often gets criticized by its actually really useful if its used properly.

      I’d rather see Youngs/ Farrell to start moving forward then Dickson with Flood or Burns to come on.

      1. I think it’s time to cut Flood loose and invest in Burns & Ford. Yes both of those are struggling for the one quality you need most at FH (consistency) but Flood has been just short on international quality for a long time and he’s not likely to get much better.

        1. Flood has two commodities that those two don’t – consistency and experience.

          He is consistently good, and occasionally very good. That offers more than the other two at this time.

          He also has a hell of a lot of experience, which is not an attribute that this England squad has much of.

          For me, Flood sticks around until 2015, unless either Burns or Ford show form that means we MUST pick them, right now they aren’t doing that.

          Post 2015, we can move on from Flood definitely.

          1. Agree with Blub and Don about Brown, who also showed on Sat that his defence was absolutely top-notch.

            Good to have the option of Foden though

            For me, if you’re going to pick Farrell then you need a big unit outside of him. As noted previously, he crabs across the field too much and on Sat this left 12T with little or no space. As such, his ball-playing skills were wasted.

            If we continue to play Farrell, I’d like to see Burrell given a go at inside centre. He’s big, can bust holes in the defence and actually has a very good passing game.

            In fact, if we’re going to play Farrell, the team I’d like to see would be:

            Corbs (assuming fitness, though can replace with Marler if not)
            Vunipola / Morgan (undecided as to who would be better starting)
            Tuilagi (if fit, Trinder if not)

            Now if that lot of backs can’t break down a few defensive lines, I’d be very suprised. The combo of Tuilagi and Burrell would be very interesting

          2. Flood is an OK backup option, but when the big games come round he doesn’t seem to rise to the occasion and sometimes even folding under the pressure (refusing to take the drop kick for Tigers springs to mind). If, for example, we lost Farrell through injury (or a citing … not inconceivable) at the start of a world cup campaign I don’t have any faith in Flood stepping in and delivering on the biggest stage.

            He is however experienced, so if Burns/Ford don’t work out in 2014 I don’t see it would be a big issue bringing Flood back in to the international fold in 2015. But right now I think it’s our last chance to invest in an alternative during this RWC cycle. I see very little to lose and potentially a lot to gain for by trying another option for 2014.

  7. In The S Times Jones gave similar rating to the fwds, but was less enthused with the backline, esp @ centre. Dallag esp talked up K Read thus contradicting Jones’ rating of Vainapola compared with KR. Barrell concerred with SJ regds England’s midfield & team’s general inabilty to create & score TRIES. Additionally SCDubya opined that Tomkins didn’t pass the ball once!?

    For me, player ratings can be an interesting exercise, but have have ltd & subjective appeal. E.g. SJ’s rating pts of Vainapola above those of Read seems spurious when compared with Billy’s arguably running out of puff & also with KR’s scoring 1 & creating another TRY. As Dallag said, in reality, Read was actually more influential on the game’s outcome.

    Ratings don’t show up England’s real problem in its inability to score tries (which are usually worth 7 pts). This issue isn’t new of course, it’s been around since 2002, so why Lancs (& some punters) talk of England ‘going in the right direction’ & @ the same time appearing oblivious of this fundamental flaw, beggars belief.

    Sure, the English fwds got into the game more during the 2nd & 3rd 1/4’s, but in the later it was surely partly because the ABs were down to 7 fwds. The reality is that, for all this ‘going in the right direction’ talk (whatever that actually means), they only really threatened to score, which they eventually did, in the rh cnr b4 1/2 time… & even that was a fortuitous ping, pong effort in that the ball could have gone anywhere.

    I know the article is about stats, but my pt is that they are, as aforementioned, all very well, but they distract from the reality of the objective which is in winning games… esp @ home.

    The ? that England fans (& coaches!) need to ask is, ‘How is this performance & player rating bizzo going to help England in NZ nxt yr?’ The refs won’t be quite so generous either (e.g. Yarde’s non yellow v Oz), so Farrell will need to a bit more than kick the pill between the posts.

    PS The geezer who rated Mike Brown on a par with other f/back contenders, IMO need not apply for a future E’land coaching post. MB is surely the stand out back who does back himself, plays without fear & is unpredictable in that he doesn’t boot the ball to heaven almost every time he gets the thing! He thus scares oppo more than others.

    1. I’ve tried to decipher what you’re trying to say but I’m not call enough to understand all of the shortened words!

      From what I’ve picked up; I agree with you in regards to England’s try scoring, but not that it is something people are shying away from. Every man and his dog have pointed out that Englands back do not cut it yet.

      Also, what attributes of Mike Brown’s does Foden not have?

  8. Jacob, as so often I agree with all of your points. Bar one.

    What more must poor Mr Brown do to convince people that he is the No1 FB?

    The question is largely rhetorical, as I can see the easy responses coming now – as I don’t buy the position that the number of tries scored as a measure of FB quality.

    Separately (and not rhetorically) is Tuilagi ruled out of the 6N?

    1. Glad to hear you usually agree with me Blub!

      And on Mike Brown, it isn’t that I dislike him or that he is doing anything wrong. I think he is a very good player.

      I just think that if I was not English, I would be much happier lining up against Brown than Foden. He just has that spark that you can’t teach. Brown has obviously worked on his skills for years, particularly his pace I know he has worked a lot on, and he is a very accomplished player. I just feel that Foden adds that spark and eye for a gap that not many English backs have.

      I would say that I will in no way be disappointed to see Brown line up over Foden – it just comes down to personal preference I guess.

      On Tuilagi, he is expected back around February, so he may play some part but not all of it, unless he makes a miraculous recovery (which I know we are all hoping for!!).

      1. Have to say that I totally agree with Jacob on FB issue. Brown has won me over to the point where I am happy for him to start, due to what he offers in defence, solidity under the high ball, effective tackling, good positioning, non stop running, and a Cullen like deceptive strength to break tackles, however I still think Foden offers more in attack. He is still solid at the back, but he hits the line effectively in the attacking third which is something Brown just seems to fail to do, and when he has the ball (and without it too) he sees the space around him either to run into or to release players into. With Brown you get tighter defence, but with Foden you get a better attacking threat and to my mind what we really need at the moment is more attacking threats.

        1. I’ve never really noticed it before, but you’re right – you rarely see Brown taking the ball in the line in attack. He seems to make all of his carries from the back (which he is very good at), but it would be good to see him in the line a bit more often.

          However, I think you have to accept that with Farrell’s limitations as a distributor, and the general gameplan that England seem to play (i.e. bosh it up in the centres first) he doesn’t have a great deal of opportunity to do it. I’m not sure Foden would be able to do it a great deal in the current backline either.

          1. Partly agree with you Jamie as I am not sure it’s all Brown’s fault… we didn’t see any attacking play from any of the back 3 in the line and I think thats a) the way they’ve been told to play and b) due to farrell and tomkins not threatening the gain line enough. Think the ‘bosh it up the centres’ can work (with someone like Tuilagi or Burrell) but currently we end up with a huge amount of lateral movement and no one cutting the line, which offers no holes and nothing for the back 3 to run lines off, add onto this the fact we are so obsessed with defence I think Brown is being told to hang back should the backs be turned over and they kick into space behind us. Think the coaches had a (probably justifiable) lack of faith in our backline, however should we get an outside centre showing some attacking play (when Tuilagi returns/if they play burrell or a speedster like trinder or daly in the 6n) then we will see all the back 3 hitting the line in the space. None of our back 3 will ever be like George North and be able to both steamroll people or outpace them at will… They need a bit of help from the guys inside!

          2. I think that come down to Brown not trusting the players in front of him. I did that as a fullback when I played with an inexperienced midfield on my own volition. I just assumed they would lose the ball and I didn’t want to be caught off guard if there was a kick down field. But, it’s also detrimental to the attack because it makes it easy for defenses to defend. They don’t have to worry about that extra man and the overlap. I didn’t notice Brown not entering the line while I watched the match, but I did wonder why England never had numbers in attack.

            In general, I think there is a lack of trust in the backs because they have not played enough with each other. I believe that is the reason for the hesitation and imprecision passing and why they look so ineffectual. They have not had time to gel and having key players injured has made it worse. There was too much thinking. It was almost as if they were wanting to see what the other player was going to do.

          3. Be interested to know – does Brown hit the line in the attacking third for Quins or does he hang back as well? I don’t know the answer.

            1. Brown scores most of his tries for Quins from the 22 inwards. Often joining the line a couple out from the ruck and hitting at pace. It works well because he always busts a couple of tackles and if he doesn’t score the rest of the team know what’s happening and are on hand to take advantage of the gaps he creates.

              Hence Brown often appearing in the top 10 try scorers in the premiership.

              He doesn’t seem to play the same way for England and I can only think that this is a tactical decision by the coaching team. Rather than hitting the line at speed and looking to break through, for England he more often joins the line on the wing and with our backs, the ball rarely makes it that far.

              Would love to see him do for england what he does for Quins

    2. I’m a Foden advocate …. but I would continue starting Brown, he has been excellent. Foden has been looking about as effective on the wing as Brown was, i.e. adequate at best.

      The 21 caps and no tries is relevant though. He’s not lacking for pace or power and I can’t see why we can’t get him more involved as a strike runner joining the attacking line. As it stands his contribution may keep us in a game, but he isn’t going to win us one, and that is what we need to find from somewhere in the backline.

  9. It’s interesting reading all these comments about the centres, and who should play when fit etc. For me I think it would be worth sticking Tuilagi in at 12 (when he’s fit), and then having Twelvetrees outside him to re-distribute the ball. Farrell plays better with a carrying centre outside him, which Tuilagi is undoubtably the best we have. With someone like Twelvetrees or Tomkins outside him to then play fist or second receiver on the next phase. Or if Tuilagi brakes the line and offloads, they can re-distribute the ball to the players in the space now left by the defenders Tuilagi has pulled in. Tomkins has played pretty much all his club rugby with Barritt or a similar inside centre. Twelvetrees plays in a completely different way, and I think because of this we haven’t seen the best of Tomkins. They are both still finding their feet on the international stage, but I think they cancel each other out. In the same way that Barritt and Tuilagi do.

    1. Interesting thought. To be honest though I don’t think it matters what number they have on their back. It is important to have one creative centre, and one that is slightly less subtle.

      Tuilagi often took the ball straight from Farrell even when Barritt was in at 12. It shouldn’t make that much difference who wears what shirt, they should change throughout the game anyway.

      If you look at the top centre pairings going back years there has always been one creative player and one that is there to get over the gain line, and it often doesn’t matter what shirt they wear.

      For example, England ’03 Greenwood/Tindall, Greenwood played inside. Nonu/Smith now Smith plays outide.

      The reality is if we pair the right players and they are taught to play in the right way, doesn’t matter too much which position they are technically playing.

    2. I think it’s time to play to our strengths, on the performances of the autumn the back 5 of the English pack look to be pretty close to the best in the world (the Boks may disagree, but I think we are more mobile, faster and fitter).

      Let’s simplify the game plan, Burrell and Tuilagi in the centres, smash it up, get over the gainline, have the supremely athletic and hard working back 5 smash people out of the way then mix up some round the corner carries with getting ball wider to players with genuine express pace (Wade and Yarde) who can exploit opportunities front foot ball provide.

      We’ve completely failed to execute anything remotely complex in the backs, if we are continuing to invest in Farrell looking for a ‘spark’ outside is pointless, he extinguishes it. Lets just go brute force, athleticism and pace for 2 years.

  10. A good point Jacob. Would you agree that Twelvetrees and Tomkins are quite similar, and it could be why their centre partnership doesn’t work? I know that Twelvetrees plays alongside Trinder, and you could say they’re similar, but he does also play a lot alongside Tindall. I just don’t think their abilities compliment each other, but rather cancel each other out. Tuilagi and Twelvetrees is the ideal partnership imo, whichever way round they play.
    Joseph has not stepped up when in an England shirt, Trinder is not yet tested, and Tomkins has been unfortunate to start his international union career against much tougher opposition than Jospeh, and it has made him look worse than he is. Outside of them (and Tuilagi of course), I don’t see anyone else putting their hand up to wear the 13 shirt.

    Interesting though looking at the stats from Saturday that Tomkins won three turnovers! More than anyone else from either team!

    1. I missed out Daly there, who could even be a better option than Trinder, especially outside someone like Burrell or Tuilagi.

    2. Definitely think Twelvetrees and Tuilagi are the way forward.

      You could be right about Twelvetrees and Tomkins, they certainly didn’t seem to look comfortable together. Tomkins obviously usually plays with Barritt which fits my theory!

      Trinder is probably more like Tuilagi, but obviously in a completely different way (if that makes sense). He looks to get over the gain line with ball in hand before thinking about distributing, just using feet over power. I don’t think that he is similar to Twelvetrees and that’s why they work so well.

      Daly is an interesting one; I’m a huge fan of his, but I think he is a full back. He has a MASSIVE boot, which is huge advantage, and I would guess our fastest full back option. Unfortunately for him there is quite a list of potential full backs for England.

      1. I see what you’re saying about Trinder. Tomkins is very effective at getting over the gain line as well, using his league background to great effect normally. But he uses his strength to break the line, and then offload with two defenders on him. Trinder is more like Jospeh (but a little better at the moment!) Tomkins is also very effective at a full cover tackle (again, league style), and he wins quite a few turnovers from it. I think apart from Trinder picking up an injury, it’s the main reason SL picked him over Trinder. We must remember that both Twelvetrees and Tomkins have only played about 9 games between them, and only three together.
        I would be quite happy to see Trinder given a game against Scotland or Italy in the 6 Nations and see how he goes. Assuming Tuilagi is not fit of course. But I think Burrell definitely needs to be looked at as well. He is a big guy, and he’s getting better all the time, and come the 6 Nations, he could be the on form 12, and deserve a shot.

        1. Agree with you on the JJ and Trinder being similar. I agree that Tomkins has those traits in the Prem; but unfortunately he hasn’t carried that into the international scene. Except the turnovers which I believe he won 3 of on Saturday.

          Would you pair Burrell with Twelvetrees if Tuilagi isn’t fit?

          I’m personally not a fan of playing people out of position. I think it is ok if that particular player plays in a few positions, but has either Twelvetrees or Burell played much at 13? I may be wrong but I definitely don’t think that Twelvetrees has, and I don’t think Burrell has either.

  11. Jacob

    The names you’re likely reffing to are Stephen Jones, Lawrence Dallagio, Stuart Barnes (barrell) & Clive Woodward (SCW)?

    For me Brown runs 1st, passes 2nd & only kicks 3rd… usually. I.e. plays more SH. Foden kicks too often. V NH. Why give it back to the oppo? I don’t see many @ all coming into the b/line… which goes E to W. Needs straightening & with descison makers knowing whether to run, pass (or offload) or kick, accurately & @ speed. Also wrap arounds? 2nd wave of runners behind the b/line?

    If it’s not a new issue, as you rightly pt out, why has Lancs done nothing about it? Too ‘high risk’ to pass or run it? Too many ex-R. League & Leicester in coaching team? Cultural/mind set thing?

    1. Oh sorry I picked up on the commentators you were referring to, I just found a lot of the text confusing.

      To be honest I actually think Brown kicks back quite a bit, but that’s not a bad thing. The NZ back three actually kick quite a lot of ball, but they do it very effectively.

      Foden and Brown both have good kicking game, I actually would have it the other way round though. Brown has a better kicking game but Foden is better with the ball in hand. I’ve mentioned elsewhere on here that I think we have two good full backs. Your earlier suggesting Foden kicks the ball a lot and doesn’t run the ball back in a bit bizarre, his running game is probably his strongest area.

      On Brown, I think he runs first, kicks second, and hasn’t thrown a pass in international rugby… but that’s just my opinion.

      1. Agree with that Jacob. The selection decision is do you sacrifice some of Brown’s safety at the back for Foden’s additional potency in the opposition half? Foden does join the line well, carries the ball in 2 hands (as an ex scrum half) keeps defences guessing, can score himself and provide for others.

        On balance I have to stick with Brown at the moment as he’s been excellent, but I don’t by the argument that he’s got a better attacking game than Foden.

  12. I was pretty impressed with England, the forward pack looked great, in-particularly the 2nd row combo, never thought that Parling would be looking like 3rd choice but it seems that way, maybe Hartleys antics have helped him mature as a player, he’s looked great this autumn and has the ability to hook and throw the ball into the line-out, 2 traits Youngs seems to lack. The backrow looked pretty good against a scary looking AB one on paper, Dickson has grown throughout the series, still not convinced by Farrell but I do not see anyone yet who is better than him, although George Ford looks like he could mount a serious challenge in the years to come. The centres didn’t do it for me, I have no idea why Burrell was overlooked, not only a powerful runner but he’s actually got decent hands, I think him and Twelvetrees could’ve perhaps been more effective. Brown continues to look extremely solid and dependable if spectacular, if you got him in the right areas of the pitch then maybe he would flourish more. It’s a shame that Wade and Yarde were injured, I would’ve loved to see them play the AB’s, i hope that England use them during the 6n as I’m struggling to see any sign of resurgence for. Ashton and as for Foden he’s fullback or bench. Any chance of seeing Elliott Daly at any point? may be a bit early for him yet but he is great with the ball in hand, has a massive boot and is decent defensively, I’d love to see him in the squad instead of Alex Goode.

  13. I am very much in the ‘play Flood’ camp.

    The thing is, i think everything that Farrell does well (goal kicking, defence, game management, sometimes), Flood does just as well. His goal kicking is exceptional, defence solid and game management even more inventive i think than Farrell. Then there’s what Flood offers that Farrell doesn’t – which is unleashing his backline and a running game.

    I don’t think Flood has actually been given a decent run of games for years. Or perhaps he’s been given one….which he performed well at, from memory.

    Plus i think Youngsy is our best halfback….and his partnership with Flood is a good one.

    That’s my opinion anyway. Farrell is a decent option on the bench to come on and steady the ship if needs be….but if we want to get our back 3 involved more, we’ve got to invest in Flood, trust him to give us two more very good years, then move on. He’s the best English 10 at the moment for me.

    Very good problem to have at lock now – 3 very good options. Would hate to pick 2 out of those 3. Parling’s done nothing wrong at all.

    Hooker – it’s always been Hartley to be honest. Youngs and his throwing cost us the game on Saturday.

    #8 – i’d start with Morgan. Billy’s handling of the basics worries me. He’s a very good ball carrier, yes. But i always worry when the ball’s at the back of the scrum….Morgan offers very good ball carrying as well, but has a slightly better all round game i reckon. Billy coming on after 60 minutes is very daunting for opposition too.

    FB – i’m in the Foden camp. Just.


  14. I agree all the way with you Matt, Floody just isn’t given a good enough chance to show off the brilliant skills he possesses ! Farrell is a good player but at the end of the day, I’m rooting Flood purely on his great skills that he offers on the pitch.

    I also strongy agree with your opinion on Hartley. Youngs is good at times but we can’t afford for him to have good days and bad days when we could have constant good days with Hartley! xD

  15. Interesting series with some good pointers towards the team make-up moving towards the Six Nations and beyond. I think that if Manu, Corbs and Mako return from injury before the start of the six nations then our best team to play France would be:

    1. A. Corbisero
    2. D. Hartley
    3. D. Cole
    4. C. Lawes
    5. J. Launchbury
    6. T. Wood
    7. C. Robshaw
    8. B. Vunipola

    9. B. Youngs
    10. O. Farrell
    11. M. Yarde
    12. B. Twelvetrees
    13. M. Tuilagi
    14. C. Wade
    15. M. Brown

    16. T. Youngs
    17. M. Vunipola
    18. D. Wilson
    19. G. Parling
    20. B. Morgan
    21. L. Dickson
    22. F. Burns
    23. B. Foden

    1. Paulo, I think Tom Youngs may struggle to keep Webber out, on current form.

      I think the FB debate has been done to death. Like second row, and No8, its a good problem for England to have.

      Centre – honestly I don’t know what to think, I like Twelvetrees, but is the whole set up right? I do think that Farrell is problematic, and that talk of centre partnerships, and even Mike Brown attacking cannot be viewed in isolation of our No10 issue.

      Not sure what the answer is but sure as sure can be, we haven’t found it yet!

  16. What a nonsense that Flood has not been given chances, has has 50+ Caps including several stints as England’s no1 fly half. The reason that he is repeatedly overlooked is that at International level he doesn’t excel at any particular skillset. He is a solid kicker, passer, tackler and runner, but against good teams he has always struggled to ignite his team. England have invested in Farrell having identified potential, and it may or not pay off, but better that than continuing to pick a player that is proven to be short of the necessary stuff.

  17. Re Chris Ashton: “Defence was better than the previous couple of weeks”

    Still bad though and becoming something of a liability. I thought his cuddle (ahem, I mean attempted tackle) on Kieran Read (where he put Savea in for the try) was particularly poor.

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