England v Scotland 6 Nations 2013: England player ratings


15: Alex Goode – 6
The first time he has looked a little uncomfortable in an England shirt. A times seemed to lack pace, and with Twelvetrees in the team he struggled to get himself on the ball as much as usual. Still has credit in the bank, but will need to step it up next week.

14. Chris Ashton – 7
Seems to have rediscovered his handy knack of scoring tries even when not playing that well. Not nearly as influential as he used to be, defences have perhaps worked him out – as is so often the case when someone has such an impact so early in their career. Deserves to be stuck with for now.

13. Brad Barritt – 7
Will be anxiously looking over his shoulder this week as Tuilagi returns to fitness. Another performance which confirmed him as a solid defender, but little more. Needs to add an attacking dimension to his game if he is not to be sacrificed.

12. Billy Twelvetrees – 9
Simply marvellous on debut. Twelvetrees looked like he was born for international rugby, confidently streaking over the gain-line time and again, and fizzing passes off both hands. Reminded us all that taking the ball from depth at speed is still as good a way as any to get over the line.

11. Mike Brown – 6
Like Goode, one of his poorer outings in the white shirt. Miscued kick and poor chase gave Stuart Hogg all the space he needed to cut open the English defence and set up Scotland’s first try. Still, he somehow made the most metres (133 – over double of anyone else) of the England team. Will nevertheless be under threat from Foden for next week.

10. Owen Farrell – 9
A coming-of-age performance from young Farrell. Not only was his goal-kicking as exemplary as ever, his game management and distribution was at a level previously unseen. That pass for Geoff Parling’s try was as breathtaking as it was unexpected from Farrell. A couple more outings like this and the shirt will be his for the foreseeable future.

9. Ben Youngs – 8
Rewarded Lancaster for his faith in him over Care with two assists and a typically rambunctious performance. A sizzling break in the second half set the foundation for Parling’s try, and he will be in for an armchair ride if this pack continue to dominate as they did on Saturday.

1. Joe Marler – 6
Was strong in the scrum, showing up the ageing Murray who looks a shadow of the player he once was. Seems to have lost his previously-bulldozing ball-carrying ability, though. Looked ponderous with ball in hand on occasion.

2. Tom Youngs – 6
Like Marler, struggled to influence the game – apart from giving away a few silly penalties at the breakdown. The line-out went alright, but there were a few wayward throws. Probably needed a bigger performance to hold off the challenge of Hartley.

3. Dan Cole – 7
A solid if unspectacular performance from Cole. He dominated at scrum time – when does he not? – and again showed that he is master, in the front row world at least, of the breakdown. An invaluable asset to England.

4. Joe Launchbury – 8
Has quickly confirmed himself as one of England’s most influential players, which is scary to think when you consider he is still just 21 years old. Against a giant Scottish pack, he dispelled the notion that he is somehow too lightweight. Deserved his disallowed try.

5. Geoff Parling – 9
If Launchbury is one of England’s most influential players, Parling is arguably the most influential of them all. Topped the tackle charts for England with 11 which is astonishing when you consider the mobility that England have in the back-row, and also managed to cross for his first international try.

6. Tom Wood – 8
Most of Wood’s work goes unnoticed, but this should not diminish its importance. Part of what looks like a very well-balanced back-row, he made his tackles and did everything that was asked of him to the highest standard. A handy man to have at line-out time, too.

7. Chris Robshaw – 8
Criticised over the autumn for his leadership, Robshaw put in a performance this weekend that showed why he is the right man to have at the helm. A nuisance throughout, he seemed to be everywhere, carrying strongly and disrupting opposition ball at the breakdown.

8. Ben Morgan – 8
Would have been one of the frontrunners for MOTM had he not hobbled off with an injury. A wrecking ball in the loose, Scotland were made to regret some off-target kicking that gave him the chance the run it back. Seems to consistently bounce off the first man.

James Haskell replaced the injured Morgan and reminded us that he still has a lot to offer as an impact sub. Dylan Hartley looked sufficiently pumped-up when he came on to suggest that he may start next week. Toby Flood showed some nice touches, but Dave Strettle had little time to show what he can do and may be under threat from a fit-again Foden. Mako Vunipola made some strong carries, while Danny Care showed the clinical side to his game with a well taken try.

By Jamie Hosie (Follow Jamie on Twitter @jhosie43)

71 thoughts on “England v Scotland 6 Nations 2013: England player ratings

  1. Tend to agree with most of this. I think 6 may have been a little generous for Goode, would have had him at 5. Would probably have him on the bench next week, get rid of Strettle and have Brown moved to 15, with Foden on the wing.

    Other than that, pretty fair.

    I thought Haskell was excellent when he came on, and he deserves the 8 shirt next week if Morgan is not fit.

  2. i was most impressed with Robshaw.

    i didnt realise he was such an effective ball carrier, always makes hard yards , gets his team going and inspires.

    Hes got the mental edge too, seems v confident in himself and the team. super leader.

    1. I don’t think he has been that effective a ball carrier before. Always seemed to be a very willing carrier but too often stopped very close to the gain line. This was a new, and much welcome, facet to his game.

      1. I think a lot of it comes from hitting the space rather than the man, which always meant that he went forward, rather than got stopped dead in his tracks.

  3. Thought Goode was poor really, particularly behind a forward moving pack and backline. Probably a 5 IMO. Uncertain running and kicking. I think that his place could be in danger from Foden. Hartley might well be in line for a recall as well.

  4. Good solid performance, Haskell to start for me. Morgan, if fit to come on when the Irish legs start to tire.

  5. Only scores I have slightly different:
    – Marler 7 – A prop giving a try scoring pass nudges him up a point. He isn’t having the ball carrying impact I was expecting based on how he played for U20s and Saxons 2 or 3 years ago. I wonder if trying to get the strength/weight to anchor an international scrum is impacting that part of his game.
    – Robshaw 9 – Engine to rival McCaw, couldn’t believe his workrate. Also carried far more effectively than I have seen him before.
    – Ashton 7.5 – No daft penalties that have plagued his recent performances, not exactly a trivial run in for his try, popped up and carried for a lot of hard yards. Didn’t see any negatives or missed opportunities. Thought he put an excellent shift if for the team.
    – Goode 5 – A 6 is an OK game, one nice jinking run didn’t balance out losing the kicking battle with Hogg, or getting run over by him.

    I would start Tuilagi, Hartley and Foden next week. If Morgan is out I think I would start Haskell, for workrate and strength to combat the choke tackles.

    1. i can only disagree with most on here re Tom Youngs. he has had far more of an impact (v NZ) and scotland in 2 caps than hartley has ever really had in 20+ caps.

      hes tackling is excellent, far better than Hartley and carries v well. Hartley seems to go high and get stopped. hes done enough to keep his shirt.

      1. Plus in recent years both Best and Ferris have successfully wound Hartley up. They and others will be licking their lips (or fingers) in anticipation.

      2. It’s a close one for me. Given both will be involved I would prefer to start Hartley as I think he is stronger in the tight, and then have Young’s dynamism off the bench. Starting Young’s means he can get ground down in the tight so we don’t see the dynamism and Hartley is less explosive off the bench. I just feel Hartley starting is a better way of getting the best contribution over the 80 from both players.

    2. Good points and totally agree with you, especially with the starters for next week just hope Morgan is fit.

  6. With regards to Marler and Youngs the Hooker, there is a link between the fact that they did not show up as much in the loose, and the reference to “the ageing Murray who looks a shadow of the player he once was”.

  7. I agree with the majority of comments on here over Goode. We really missed Foden’s strike running. Perhpas Goode is not yet match fit – if so an easy drop for SL to allow him time back at his club to get match fit. I suspect that SL will keep 36 and Barritt and ease Manu back in from the bench – he has not played for a couple of weeks, and then hopefully bring on Manu for Barritt so we can see him partner 36.

    Thought our defence was not up to our usual standards this week. We wil really need to improve for the Ireland game. Question; if Morgan is out and Hask starts who is on the bench? Fatty Waldrom or do you think they will risk Croft as an impact sub?

    1. I would really hope B. Vunipola would make it to the bench. Would be a great impact player from the bench to make his debut. Haskell, Robshaw and Wood are all pretty versatile across the back row, so Vunipola would be a direct replacement for Morgan. Would rather have him than Croft.

  8. Good point made about Morgan, he does always seems to bounce off that first tackler, will be a miss for the Ireland match but not a huge one due to Haskells form atm. I would prefer Haskell at 8 and Wood at 6 in that case though, and not the other way round. I think the balance Robshaw and Wood have is very effective, especially at the break down. Who says you need an out and out 7!?

    Just a quick one, what has happened to Croft? is he in line for the Ireland match at all?

  9. I hope Croft isn’t in line. We finally have a backrow that attacks the breakdown and doesn’t hang around on the wing wishing they were a back. Let’s not ruin it

    Re Marler – nice to see him prove all the naysayers wrong. He had an off game vs aus but it was no more than that. Murray is 10 times the prop that Alexander is and Marler dealt well with him. Lovely pass as well, great hands and vision for a prop.

    He should have enough to deal with Mike Ross next weekend and hopefully Cole will knacker Healy out in the scrums

    Assuming all are fit, I’d have Brown at fb, Foden on the wing and then god only knows for the centres – 12T and Tuilagi, Barritt and Tuilagi? Don’t envy Lancaster that decision

  10. What an amazing first weekend, thoroughly enjoyable all round!! And if you thought it was tough to predict the first weekend’s outcome, heaven help someone trying to pick next week’s results!!
    So I would mostly agree with the player ratings, both Brown and Goode were slightly off colour and shown up in parts against what in any other side looked to be an impressive outside back 3 from the Scots.
    I would guess that as many people have been saying that would call the decision to send Foden home into question. He didn’t have a particularly exceptional game himself by all accounts at Exeter on the weekend. For my part though I would give him a chance simply for the extra pace and zip he brings.
    I think Brown probably just scrapes it for ball in hand and yards made but that will leave some extremely tough calls with regard to the bench. I think both 36 and Barritt performed well and for me deserve their starting spots which will leave Tuilagi a great impact option second half!
    I think Tom Youngs could be the future at 2 but for now Hartely looked the more steady option in the line out and certainly adds a bit more beef up front. It’s going to be an oppressive atmosphere in Dublin and I think SL might opt for a more seasoned head!!
    Morgan was awesome in the loose and in the tight. Haskell a straight swap if he’s injured and I wouldn’t mess around with Tom Wood’s position either. Keep it simple Tom @6 ?James @8.
    I sincerely hope SL sticks with his blooding young players policy, sidesteps the T. Whaldrom option and brings in Kvesic as back row cover on the bench. He offers a lot more in the loose for me and has had a good season for the Warriors so far.
    Add all that up and it would mean the very tough call of dropping both Goode and Strettle. Goode has done little wrong really and Strettle has had what 10mins so both tough calls. It does also mean a lack of cover in the outside back’s with Tuilagi the only viable option but that would be my call. I think he could be an interesting proposition on the wing should it be necessary.
    It will certainly be giving the coaches something to think about over the next few day’s but what a wonderful position we now find ourselves in!

  11. We could potentially have two sets of brothers playing on the field at the same time. Has that ever happened for England before?

      1. he means 2 sets of brothers – ie the Youngs brothers AND the vunipola brothers.

        so there are 4 brothers on the field (2 youngs and 2 vunipolas)

        1. Barritt just tweeted congratulating him – not sure if he was supposed to before the official announcement! But yes, it’s good that the Saxons are being used for the purpose they were intended.

  12. Well lots of great performances, the pack is looking really good and there are loads of impact off the bench. thumbs up all round.

    Youngs need to work on his delivery but his ability to slice a defence open once per game, invaluable, his edge play is a nice cover for farrels more measured appraoch. Although I would like to see burns given a run a some point.

    Twelvetrees changed the backs, he can pass flat and take it to the gain line, makes the defense think a lot, if he pops it up to manu on the charge we could suddenly have a midfield to scare people. The back three, Ashton apart, look slow, Brown and Goode got lots of ball and were never threatening the scotland defense. Foden has to come in, If 12t is on the line we do’t a playmaker coming in from 15, foden is more of a finisher, raw speed. Brown is no long term wing we need to look elsewhere, although pickings are slim.

    1. I’ve been saying for a while that Billy and Manu in the centres would be a much better pairing than Manu and Barrit. Billy is a much better distributor of the ball than barrit and Manu is a much better (wrecking) ball carrier.

      I think if Lancaster is serious about his “taking attack to Ireland” (and Manu is fit) that’s the pairing that’s got to go.

      1. really? look what bod did to J Davies.

        would you send 12t, a 1 cap centre, up against BOD in Dublin? Manu is still finding his feet defensively.

        its well known that Barritt organises the Defence and i would see it as suicide sending 12t and manu v bod. he would carve them up.

        1. Exactly what I’ve been saying Jimmy. Barritt has to start. But it could be worth keeping him at 13 even if Manu plays. Manu at first receiver could trick a few defences, and he could probably make more holes running direct from 12.

        2. I understand the fear over putting 12T in as a defensive frailty. But if Lancaster is saying “we’re going to attack and not sit down and defend” that’s the obvious change to make. I’m not necessarily saying it’s the change I’d make.

          1. But we did attack with 36 and Barritt playing, and we scored 4 tries. I think having 36 and Tuilagi together we will lose our defensive organisation.
            If there is one player in this England squad who Andy Farrell had any hand in picking it’s Barritt.

    2. I agree even if defences are working Ashton out what other alternative do we have. Goode’s looking slow and his role as a second distributor is now redundant with 12trees playing we have two ball players in the immediate backline (if Farrell can continue in the same vein as the Scottish game). In conclusion my backline for the Ireland game would be…..

      9. Ben Youngs
      10.Owen Farrell
      12. Billy Twelevetrees
      13.Manu Tuilangi
      11. Ben Foden
      15.Mike Brown
      14.Chris Ashton

      Also does anyone know if wade is going to get promoted anytime soon

      1. There would have to be an injury to allow for wade to come in as cover from the Saxons to the EPS. Also he has to be playing outstanding rugby to warrant the call (not suggesting he isn’t). But there are a few factors that contribute to how you get a call up… So I doubt very much that we will see wade. Especially because it seems that he is viewed as a 14, and therefore is in direct competition with Ashton…

        1. ah right i just think that wade along with tomkins could be two gems for the future that could be epic in a white shirt

  13. Thank God, elsewhere on these boards I’d been seeing slating of Ben Youngs and I thought he had a great game.

    I thought Goode looked a bit quiet and decision making was off. Mike Brown was worse. His kick down the throat of Hogg left England exposed for Scotland’s first try and at least twice more I saw him isolating himself and trying to run past 3 players alone instead of taking the kick when he could. I thought 5 for Brown.

    1. Brown’s kick for Hogg’s try was poor but the try was more due to the lack of a chase from England than to the kick itself

      As for the rest of Brown’s play, he only really got the ball in rather unpromising positions. Yet he still made 133 metres (40 metres more than any other back in any of the 3 games), made 3 clean breaks and beat 4 defenders

      And that’s in a position that’s not his best. I really wish Lancaster would play him and fullback and make proper use of him

      1. regarding brown’s kick, i remember thinking at the time “he is in his 22, he will knock it upfield into touch.” then he didnt… and maybe i was not the only person thinking that’s what he would do (presuming those meant to be chasing where on the same wavelength as me!)

        it was a sloppy kick, if he didnt want to go for touch, then he should have ran out of the 22 and put up a bomb.

  14. Get rid of Strettle Get Wade or May in at left wing Brown at 15 . ManuT for Barritt who goes to benchalong with Goode.

    Can’t see BillyV making an appearance but dont want TTE recalled so go with the Hask or Wood at 8.
    Tom Youngs replaced by Hartley AS LONG AS HE UNDERSTANDS ANY STUPID OFF THE BALL CHEAP SHOTS means no more England!

    1. Unfortunately they can’t just pull wade or may in. The eps (and Saxons) agreements were made with clubs for a reason, and they have binding restrictions.

      Lancaster can only call a player into the eps from the Saxons if there is an injury to a player in the eps. Therefore england would need one of the backs to be injured to be allowed to call either wade or may in. And seeing as they were not initially in the eps, I highly doubt they would rocket from Saxons (in which they only played 1 game each, as opposed to Biggs who played both) straight into the test XV…

  15. JImmymc1 is right.This is no time to drop Barrit.The future is 12t and Manu,but for now we can’t head to Dublin with a first time pairing.

    1. first time pairing? are you aware that not only have those two played at saxons together, but they are former teammates at tigers (i believe they spend 2-3 years playing with eachother)…

      12Ts and Barritt was a FIRST TIME pairing, 12Ts and Manu would not be…

  16. First time in full England shirts together,whole new level of pressure,especially in Dublin,in a game that could decide the eventual 6N winners.

    1. every game in the 6Ns can decide the eventual winners, yet we put barritt and 12Ts together for the scotland game, for the first time ever… if you dont pair manu and 12Ts up now, then when do you?

      i understand where you are coming from, but manu and 12Ts offer so much more than just defence. they have the added dimensions to their game that barritt does not.

      this england team want to go out and play rugby, not simply tackle things. based on that mantra england have to make the positive selection of 12Ts and Manu. not only is it our most threatening pairing at the moment, but it is also our pairing for the future.

      1. SImo – i really see your point, but you are missing 4 things.
        1) BOD is widely regarded as one of the best centres of all time
        2) 12t and manu played at leicester, with 12t @ 10 when flood was injured and manu somtimes wing and someimes 13, so they rarely paired up. 12t moved to glos to get game time.
        3) to illustrate what Barritt brings, remeber Greenwood and tindal? I mean when the played pre 2003 RWC and up to the RWC (not post RWC when Tindall was judt slow!) Greenwood credits Tindal with organising the defence and makingn the big hits. There were qucker and more creative centres around, but tindal was there for his experience and Defence.Barritt does the same.
        4) there is defo a future for 12t, barritt and manu, but putting 12t v wolrds best centre, away from home with a limited cap centre partner (manu) who himself requires sheperding, would = disaster.

          1. jimmy, i understand your points, and i foresee that it is likely to go that way. but the point AJS seemed to be making, especially in his 2nd post, is more geared towards “we cant play 12Ts and Manu together, because they are too inexperienced” as opposed to your point of “we cannot not play barritt” (tricky double negative there!) which to me are two different schools of thought. AJS is claiming we cannot play an unfamiliar partnership together, yet that is exactly what happened against scotland.

            on your greenwood/tindall point, this is the mike tindall who has occasionally played 10 for glous… even he is more creative and attacking minded that barritt!!!!!

            i agree that 12Ts and Manu will not have always played 12 &13 together, however they have played it a number of times, and you can sure as hell bet that they have spent PLENTY of time on the training field together.

            my main issue is that we cannot go out there simply trying to contain BOD. SL said in the build up to the scotland game that you have to play proactive rugby, not reactive. i think that selecting a centre partnership that is geared around stopping BOD (which in kind inevitably stops us) then we are sending a negative message to the players.

            plenty of people were suggesting that Burns, 12Ts and Manu should have started the 6Ns together, but all of a sudden we cannot have that against ireland? (i not suggesting farrell gets dropped…)

            i am sure we will see barritt starting, and i wont at all be unhappy about it. but i genuinely think that if england want to play the best rugby possible, and play proactively, then 12Ts and Manu have to start.

          2. Let’s also remember what a 19 year old Manu did to Ireland in Dublin on his second cap. OK no BOD on that day. There’s no risk of any man Vs boy mismatches, not on our side at least!

            If Manu is fit he has to play, I would partner him with 36 as he was better of the 2 centres on Saturday. But the only pairing I would be unhappy with is 36 & Barrit as I would like BOD to have a face full of Tuilagi all afternoon.

        1. Agree totally again Jimmy. Yes Barritt and 12T were a new pairing, but one of that pairing is the player who is organising the defensive line. If you remove him completely it falls to someone with little experience to organise a defence in a system they may not be familiar with. Against Ireland that could spell disaster.
          I also agree that 12T and Manu would be a better attacking centre partnership, but not until they have played some less important games together.

          1. Matt – this is not a man v boy argument. Bod has tackled bigger and harder people than Manu, i recall him destroying 18st Rossouw in 2009 Lions.

            this is more about defensive positioning in the mayhem of international midfields and not getting manipulated out of position.

            Manu and 12t are simply not up to deal with this yet, especially v BOD, who as we saw against J Davies, is a master at doing it.

          2. @Matt. What less important games? every game that england plays means something in some capacity. whether it be proving that they are up for it against the southern hemisphere. or against italy in the 6Ns working towards trying to get a grand slam. this is test match rugby, every game is important.

            @Jimmymc1 i understand and agree with your points. i do not think you are wrong. however, if 12Ts and Manu arent ready now, then when will they be? will they ever be?

            as i said above, this is test match rugby. you can either play it or you cant. if they arent good enough to cut the mustard as a centre pairing now, then they arent good enough for 2015.

            the whole mantra of the SL regime is that if you are good enough, you are old enough and experienced enough.

            another major point of the SL philosophy, which i know was backed up by clive woodward (although he seems to have contradicted himself this week…) is that if you want to play rugby then you have to go out there and attack.

            one of the major criticisms of the johnson management era is that they went out to defend and would let the attacking take care of itself (this is a direct quote from ashton) see here –> http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/international/england/9845611/Chris-Ashton-hails-Englands-new-attitude.html

            the dropping of 12Ts would be a very hypocritical move.
            1- because they seem to have the view that if you are out injured you have to earn your shirt back.
            2- it seems to be punishing a player who did nothing but good in his first test.

            i get the feeling that manu will be on the bench. apparently catt has hinted at that.

          3. Jimmy, you’ve changed my mind. I think I would go Barrit and Manu. Manu attacking at 13 and defending at 12.

            I don’t think it’s a man vs boy thing either but I didn’t understand that Tait analogy.

            We know BOD is as strong as a backrow forward, but he isn’t as durable as he once was. He will certainly know all about the collision. In the same way we want Cole to grind Healy down so he isn’t running all over the park I think having to deal with the threat of Tuilagi will take some of the steam out of BOD.

  17. Great first win against the Scots showing that the N. Zealand result can, if not matched, be replicated to a high degree of accuracy.

    I would like to see the following start next week:

    1). M. Vunipola
    2). T. Youngs
    3). D. Cole
    4). J. Lauchbury
    5). G. Parling
    6). T. Wood
    7). C. Robshaw
    8). J. Haskell

    9). B. Youngs
    10). O. Farrell
    11). B. Foden
    12). B. Twelvetrees
    13). M. Tuilagi
    14). C. Ashton
    15). M. Brown

    16). J. Marler
    17). D. Wilson
    18). D. Hartley
    19). C. Lawes
    20). T. Croft
    21). D. Care
    22). F. Burns (or T. FLood if Burns is still injured)
    23). J. Joseph

    Harsh on Barritt as he has been one of my favourites for his pure defensive class but unfortunately Saturday gave us a glimpse of the future and that is 12trees. He is, in my opinion, the future inside centre for England so why not get him going regularly now? It his inclusion that drops Goode from the squad as he fills the second receiver berth allowing for a more dangerous strike runner in Foden to start on the wing with Brown reverting to FB. I have picked Haskell to start and Croft on the bench as a result of Morgans injury and Joseph makes the bench because I like the fact he covers two positions and offers spark and pace if required.

    1. really like this team. i would only change a couple things.

      i felt marler did enough to retain his starting spot, even though i think mako would be great as a starter. i wouldnt be surprised if hartley started, although i would be happy for t.youngs to keep going. (so no actual change there, just comments…)

      although i agree with your backrow, based on what lancaster said in an interview today, i think wood and haskell will be the other way round, but both still starting. i think haskell should be the 8, but it sounds as though england see him as a 6 only.

      it is very harsh on barritt, but i see your point that if he doesnt start then its hard to find a place in the 23 for him, because he does not really provide the impact off the bench, nor does he cover plenty of positions. I like that JJ can play 13, wing and he has even turned out at 15 for irish, and he is a game breaker, so agree with him.

      foden in and brown to 15 is a must for me too! i think goode was not only a bit off the pace (probably lacking match fitness), but with the addition of 12Ts he seemed a bit surplus to requirements as another ball player. also browns ariel prowess is a must against kearney.

      one final point, i dont think croft is ready (and i mean that from a personal viewpoint, but also the fact that both he and england seem to think it would be too much too soon). so in that case i would give the bench spot to either kvesic or b. vunipola if fit.

      otherwise, as i say, great team!

      1. Interesting point on Croft – he should only be selected if fully fit and mentally ready. If he isn’t then I would love to see Billy Vunipola given a go on the bench and come on for James Haskell after about 55 – 60 mins and play 8 with Wood going back to 6. Perhaps the Ireland match is too soon but I think that it would be a risk well worth taking.

        1. agreed that croft shouldnt play if not fit. and as i said, i think he and the management are being VERY realistic with his comeback. i dont think we will see croft in the 6Ns tbh, i think it will be too much of a risk (not from a playing perspective, but a safety one for him)

          would love to see big billy on the bench for the ireland game! having said this, as somebody else already said, they better have string benches at the aviva, because 260kg of Vunipola x2 is a heavy old bench!

          i think he will be a relative unknown to the irish though, as they havent played him in europe this year either, so would definitely bring an x-factor and an impact off the bench!

  18. I think Marler played well, but I can’t see why Vunipola isnt starting, he seems to be more destructive in the scrum and his ball carrying is great, he proved this again by running over ritchie grey

    1. maybe a view that marler is more effective for 50-60 mins than mako would be?

      also i think mako can make a bigger impact off the bench. its a pretty good place to be in though, with corbs being the oldest of our 3 looseheads (and he isnt old at all!) we seem in good shape here as long as all 3 can get (and stay) injury free.

  19. My squad for Sunday’s game:
    1. Marler
    2. Youngs
    3. Cole
    4. Launchbury
    5. Parling
    6. Wood (Haskell if Morgan unfit)
    7. Robshaw
    8. Morgan (Wood if Morgan unfit)
    9. Youngs
    10. Farrell
    11. Brown
    12. Twelvetrees
    13. Barritt
    14. Ashton
    15. Foden

    16. Hartley
    17. Wilson
    18. M. Vunipola
    19. Lawes
    20. Haskell (B. Vunipola if Morgan unfit)
    21. Care
    22. Flood
    23. Tuilagi

    I would keep Brown on the wing, mainly because I think Foden’s kicking is better, and Brown has now played more on the wing than Foden, and has grown into the role. Making 133 metres with ball in hand when playing out of position is impressive. I would also stick with 12T and Barritt. At least for the first 50 minutes. I would also bring Manu on at 12, and leave Barritt at 13, and bring Flood on at 10 because he has played with Manu as second receiver for the Tigers. This could really mix it up for the Irish, as they really won’t know what to expect.

    1. Also I would have Wood at 8, because I think he’s a better runner from the back of the scrum than Haskell, and also a better offloader. Watching him last week running from 8 he reminded me a bit of Joubert, good pace and step.

      1. I with you dazza. Haskell does not have the contrrol at the scrum , whcih is sort of OK when you are going forward. against IRe our scrum wont always be steady and you need someone who can control the ball. its a difficult skill and id rather have woods doing it than haskell.

  20. So will be great if as Catt has hinted they stick BB&TT combo with Manu on the bench! Given that Manu has had three weeks out and TT had a cracker it seems only right! But that means he has to drop Flood or Strets!! Tough call that since it leaves either Goode or TT covering the outside half pos or alternatively Manu covering wing!! All of which seem risky to my mind!!

    1. drop strettle. easy.

      manu can offer more on the wing than strettle offers on the wing! and floody can cover 10 and 12.

      then again they could go for a really out there option, and drop both strettle and flood. having manu and foden on the bench. foden can then cover wing and 15. with manu covering 12/13. both goode and 12Ts could cover 10 if needed.

      like i said though, that is unlikely. so my money would be on a flood and Tuilagi bench – if catt’s hinting is to be believed.

      1. I’m inclined to agree Simo. It’s too risky to have TT or Goode as OH cover and I think you’re right, Manu on the wing could be quite destructive. If it comes to that he’ll be up against Gilroy @ 14, could be interesting!
        I just wonder then if with TT as extra kicking cover he’ll consider a straight Foden – Goode swap, let’s hope so although i sincerely doubt it.

        1. would be up for foden coming in over goode. i am inclined to have foden at 11 and brown 15, although i know that some people feel the other way.

          although i think that manu covering 11 could be good, i would not bring him there by choice, would bring him on at 13.

  21. I do hope somebody gets back to me, as I need something explained.
    Here (http://www.irb.com/rankings/index.html) you can see that England are now up to #4 in the IRB world rankings with 83.90 points. But here (http://www.irb.com/rankings/archive/date=2013-01-28/histranking.html) you can see that England already had 83.90 points and had only risen to 4th due to France’s loss to Italy and not because England had gained points. Likewise: you can see that Scotland haven’t lost any, remaining at 75.83.
    I find this extremely odd considering the Wales/Ireland game and Italy/France game have both been factored in.

    So why haven’t England been given any points?

    1. It’s because Scotland are so far below us. You get the most points for beating a higher-ranked team, and lose the most for losing to one below you. The NZ win, as it was by 15+, would have seen us gain well.

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