Lancaster narrows England squad for Italy game


The following players will return to Pennyhill Park tomorrow evening (Wednesday) to prepare for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations match against Italy at Stadio Olimpico (12.30pm GMT, live on BBC Sport).

Forwards (13)
David Attwood (Bath Rugby)
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs)
Joe Launchbury (London Wasps)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
Joe Marler (Harlequins)
Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby)
Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks)
Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
David Wilson (Bath Rugby)
Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)
Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Backs (10)
Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints)
Danny Care (Harlequins)
Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints)
Owen Farrell (Saracens)
George Ford (Bath Rugby)
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby)
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)
Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)
Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby)

Matt Mullan (London Wasps) and Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby) will travel with the squad on Thursday afternoon as 24th and 25th men.

England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster said: “Every member of the squad has contributed to the cause over the last seven weeks and those not involved this weekend deserve massive credit for the way they have trained and pushed hard for places. There will be opportunities down the line, not least on the tour to New Zealand, and they can further stake their claims for that trip with strong performances for their clubs.

“Manu trained well with us last week and today and is up to speed with the way we want to play. Alex Goode has done well for us off the bench and is naturally disappointed but we believe Manu, with the power and physicality he can bring, is the right choice to be included in the 23 for this game.”

Returning to Aviva Premiership clubs:
Chris Ashton (Saracens)
Brad Barritt (Saracens)
Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby)
Alex Goode (Saracens)
Matt Kvesic (Gloucester Rugby)
Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers)
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby)
Marland Yarde (London Irish)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

So Manu Tuilagi is set to at least feature from the bench on Saturday – what do you make of that decision?

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

17 thoughts on “Lancaster narrows England squad for Italy game

  1. Yay! Agree with replacing Goode as the only change.

    Back 3 cover a bit thin, but no point being conservative. Getting Yarde or Manu back in ahead of the NZ tour makes far more sense than handing Goode another cap.

    Nice to see Eastmond travelling as well.

    1. I wouldn’t say it leaves us that thin in the back three. Nowell or May can play full back, and Manu can play on the wing if needs be. Goode only covered one position, but Manu can cover centre or wing.

      1. Whilst it’s not like France stretching a 23 shirt around Bastaraud, we don’t want to lose a back 3 player early! When Tuilagi does come on I hope it’s in the centre (I would move Burrell to 12 to see how he goes there).

  2. I would like to see George Ford given a decent run out in Italy, to see what difference he can make. Farrell has improved markedly, but it would be interesting to see what a more creative fly half could do.

  3. Very good, I’m looking forward to Manu coming on. Barring injury I hope it’s at outside centre and not an experiment on the wing .

    Regarding Ford, I saw this quote from Lancaster:
    “George has great potential and opportunities will come his way. I’ve pencilled in at least one game he’s definitely going to start, if not two. His chance will come.”
    So I assume that’s on the NZ tour, quite a place to have your first start. Surely he must get the second half against Italy first though.

  4. I agree that it is preferable to see Tuilagi come on in the centre, and to my mind partnering Burrell.

    I am not one of Twelvetrees critics, as I believe he brings a lot to the game, but I think it would be useful to get a taste of Burrell inside Tuilagi.

    England still have injury cover in the back three. May and Nowell can play FB, and Tuilagi and Burrell can play on the wing. I think I am also right in saying that Care has covered on the wing for England in the past.

    Interesting that Eastmond stays with the 23. This, in the past has been Lancasters way of bringing players into the 23, as both Ford and Burrell did this before making their debuts (yes, I know it would not be Eastmond’s debut).

  5. Good ole Lancy. He may take a bit more time than most if us would like but generally gets to the right place in the end.

    Lots of options. What if SL starts with Ford, 12t and Burrell he could then move 12t to 10 and have Burrell and Manu in the centres. Or Manu for Burrell. Or move Burrell inside and take off 12t. Or take off Nowell or May? Whilst I’m generally against playing people outside of their natural position, i’m less fussed if it’s in the final qtr when the game is breaking up and less structured, and would assume that whatever option is chosen has been fully tried and tested. I imagine the back 3 issues in the first match v. France were not anticipated so I’m sure the likes of Burrell and Manu will have done some training on the wing.

  6. We need at least two international quality players in each position. At the moment, we have 12Ts, Tuilagi, Barritt and Burrell, that we know can play. Question marks with a number of other players like Eastmond, but I’m not sure that we know exactly what our best combination is. 12Ts is a second receiver with that skill set and definitely a 12. Tuilagi is definitely a hard running 13. Is Burrell a 12 or 13? Barritt is a solid defensive 12.

    So it may be that a bit of experimentation goes on in the Italy game and the NZ tour (goodness help us!). Not too many games left to work out how best to play the game!

    1. I think Burrell is seen just as a centre. I see him as a slightly faster, less powerful Manu with better passing off both hands and a knack for excellent support lines.
      That skill set can do a job at both 12 and 13. He’s adapted excellently to play 13 for England and I don’t know whether I want to see Twelvetrees/Tuilagi or Burrell/Tuilagi in the last 20 in Rome.

  7. The squad is building nicely now. Goode is a good player but wasted as a bench selection, unless you trust him to cover 10 and 15 with a centre/wing substitute in the other shirt. He’s good for an extended squad as if Brown was injured I’d give him a run in the shirt.

    Looking at the squad we may take to New Zealand and we could have something like:

    LHs: Corbsierio (?), Marler, Mako, Mullan (if Corbs not fit)
    Hookers: Hartley, Youngs, Webber
    THs: Cole, Wilson, Thomas
    Locks: Lawes, Launchbury, Attwood, Parling
    Flankers: Robshaw (C), Wood, Croft, Johnson, Kvesic
    No 8s: Vunipola, Morgan
    SHs: Care, Youngs, Dickson
    FHs: Farrell, Ford
    Centres: Twelvetrees, Burrell, Tuilagi, Eastmond
    Wings: May, Nowell, Yarde
    FBs: Brown, Goode

    That gives us 33 names which puts us in a healthy position. Injuries will rule some out and vgive others a chance, but going forward you could pick your World Cup 30 from those players.

    1. Generally agree with the look of that squad.

      I would take Foden over Goode though, and I definitely would not be leaving Wade at home. He needs to be playing as much as possible leading into the world cup now.

    2. Definitely Foden over Goode and Wade as a 4th wing. Probably take a 3rd FH as well unless SL is happy for 12ts to cover that spot. Amazing how the squad is almost picking itself now – well done SL!

    3. There’s a midweek game on the summer tour so expect we’ll see ~38 players touring. Maybe worth considering giving a few a rest as well. Mako should be first in line for a break, he seems to have more strapping each time he comes on at the moment, looks to be going backwards a bit of fitness as well.

      A few guys I would like to see tour and be evaluated on a midweek game are Daly, Watson, Rokoduguni, Dickinson, Ewers and wouldn’t mind seeing if Brookes is a better option than Thomas at tighthead.

  8. A lot of hypothetical tinkering going on here. Lets not forget there is still a championship on the line. Lets take the same starting XV that has worked well so far, obliterate Italy in the first 50-55 minutes and then look to bring in Ford and Tui.

    Eat up that points difference and give something for Ireland to think about when they take on France.

  9. I would rather see Manu/Twelvetrees, but that’s largely because I keep confusing Burrell and Lawes.

    Seriously though, just my preference of how centres work, I like a good strong ball carrier who runs the lines and I like him paired with a classy distributor/kicker who can take pressure off the 10. I just think that Burrell is neither one or t’other. He picks a good line and he distributes well, but I’m not convinced he does either better than the other option.

    I am, as others are, concerned about the lack of wing cover. Manu has been used on the wing and it hasn’t worked. It’s not as simple as a lot of suggestions of just running hard and fast, not every centre can just move there. Unless Burrell can move to the wing or Twelvetrees can shift to fullback, I’ll just be hoping we don’t have an incident like Jonny May 5 minutes in

  10. generally agree with the squad but I think May needs a good performance to justify his spot and hold off Yarde. Also, it’s a shame not to see Watson make his debut, was looking forward to seeing him on the international stage. Will there be room for him on the NZ tour? My 4 wingers would be Yarde, Nowell, May and Wade if fit. (If not Watson.)

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