Lancaster releases England players back to clubs ahead of Wales clash


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)
Alex Goode (Saracens)
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby)
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)
Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby)

Matt Mullan (London Wasps) and Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers) will also return to camp to train with the match day 23.

England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster said: “The performance against Ireland has given us a lot of confidence going into this game against a high quality Welsh team and we feel it’s right to give the bulk of that 23 another opportunity. Tom Johnson has trained with us throughout and we are looking forward to his contribution.

“There is a lot of competition for places and to have Marland (Yarde) and Manu (Tuilagi) back training with us this week has been great. With Leicester and Wasps not involved in the LV= Cup semi-finals this weekend we are able to keep Matt (Mullan) to provide cover in the front row and also to give Manu more time to get up to speed with the team.”

Returning to Aviva Premiership clubs
Chris Ashton (Saracens)
Brad Barritt (Saracens)
Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby)
Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby)
Matt Kvesic (Gloucester Rugby)
Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers)
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

32 thoughts on “Lancaster releases England players back to clubs ahead of Wales clash

  1. Omitting Tuilagi even though he’s only played one game since injury is a big call. You wouldn’t see Mccaw or Carter omitted in the same circumstances.

  2. It does worry me that SL still thinks Wood is adequate 8 cover should Morgan get injured (according to the telegraph). Surely Johnson would be better.

  3. I think 36 has played with Tuilagi for about 20 mins at the end of this fixture last year. I don’t think they’ve played together since. He’s had a lot more time paired with Burrell, and Burrell is running some very nice lines and showing some power. He’s not Tuilagi, but this isn’t about the best player, it’s about the best team.

    Mccaw may well be omitted, at least to the bench (where it’s normal to have a backrow player anyway), he’s the GOAT, but age is catching him, and whilst his experience and skill is the highest, younger bodies can make up for that to some degree. Carter is lightyears ahead of Cruden, and Cruden is bloody good. Add to that, both are fully integrated with the ABs, and playing either doesn’t require any sort of change or building of relationships.

    Haven’t seen the Wood to 8 comment, I can’t imagine that they’d do that though, when Johnson has more experience on a week to week basis. We’ll see though, Wood must impress in training at 8 if Lancaster still thinks he’s better choice.

  4. It strikes me the result of this game will have a huge impact on England’s rwc preparation.Win and we continue to build winning consistency and the Twickenham fortress concept.We can go to NZ hopefully as European champions.Losing will disrupt what momentum we have we finish up mid table and are likely to suffer 3 heavy defeats down under.This game is even more important than Ireland.

  5. No surprises. Glad in some ways that he hasn’t changed the side. Would like to have seen Yarde in the 23 instead of Goode, but not too bothered.

    8 cover doesn’t bother too much either. Very few (if any) have genuine 8 cover on the bench, so not an issue.

  6. Pleased he’s not done anything ‘creative’ and decided to use Goode as 10 cover to get someone potent into a 23 shirt.

    But disappointed we won’t have someone more potent in a 23 shirt. You could put Yarde in a sack and he’d still be faster than Goode and break more tackles.

    If we are successful in implementing our gameplan I think Johnson will be excellent cover off the bench and will inject something as a link man. If it’s tight, physical and attritional then I’m not so sure, the likely swap of Morgan for Johnson with Wood moving to 8 is a significant reduction in physicality.

  7. I’m glad he hasn’t changed the squad. We know the guys that have been starting are doing well, so why disrupt that by putting in guys just back from injury who’ve hardly played. If we beat Wales, then maybe consider sticking Tuilagi back in as he’s staying with the squad.

    I can’t see Yarde getting back in the team if SL isn’t keeping him with the squad. He won’t be in competitive action this weekend so won’t get the chance to prove he’s fit and ready. Unless May or Nowell get injured I think he’ll have to wait until the summer for his next cap.

    1. Yarde is staying with the squad. Or at least he is not included in the players released back to clubs.

      Lancaster has very much been a fan of the incumbent keeping the jersey unless there is exceptional reason to change (total and prolonged loss of form, or exceptional form by competitior). But in the case of the wings: Who is the incumbent?

      1. If the wingers are ranked 1-4 (fully fit) I would have Yarde at 1 and Nowell at 4. Goode is behind Brown and Foden (when fit). So if Yarde is fit I don’t like him being excluded when he desperately needs the caps and experience himself.

        I don’t put Nowell into the wasted caps category (but Goode certainly is), he got his opportunity through injury and hasn’t been keeping anyone else out who you would pick ahead of him. I don’t have any issue with keeping with the same starting XV, but I do have an issue with not bringing Yarde back in at all as Goode:
        – Is only covering one position (he’s not there for emergency 10 cover now Ford is on the bench)
        – The position he’s covering is England’s best player, if we are behind at 60 mins bringing Brown off for Goode isn’t the answer!
        – An injury to a winger means moving England’s best player out of position.

        1. Goode can still cover 10 in exceptional circumstances (36 get’s broken, farrell to 12, Ford goes down etc). And whilst he only covers FB, our FB covers wing. So he does offer variety. More than a winger would (who goes FB if Brown goes down).

          Foden will take the shirt off him if he finds any form. Watson, Nowell and Daly all potential 23s in the future, but none ready for it yet.

          1. Not sure being able to cover 10 brings any value when there’s 2 specialists and a 3rd guy who can cover. The likelihood of being needed as a 10 is so low it’s not a good reason to include someone.

            An injury to one player (Brown) would cause a bit of an issue if either May or Nowell had to go there, but they’ve both got prem experience at fullback. Nowell in particular has been excellent defensively and isn’t going to get run over. Goode’s been individually accountable for too many errors at the back (game defining ones against France) to be considered safe. If Goode is the only thing between the try line and Cuthbert, North, Roberts or JD at any stage then it’s another 7 points to Wales.

            I guess they haven’t been planning/training for any eventuality other than Goode covering 15 and it’s seen as too late to change now.

        2. I would agree with your ranking (I assume Wade is 2). However, While Yarde may be physically fit, I don’t think he is match fit (lacking a bit of sharpness). This would be even more exposed at international level (as Wales have on occasion experienced).

          I don’t agree Goode’s caps are wasted, but I think his future is at FH not FB. He has played there several times this season for Saracens (though only 1 or 2 starts), and looks more than competant. He needs to move from Saracens to get game time at FH. Gloucester would have been ideal for him, but with Laidlaw that is now out.

          Finally, I do agree on Brown Foden being better picks at fullback. And it does seem pointless having both Goode and Ford on the bench. With our 2 bench options for the backs we have covered only 2 positions. Additionally Goode’s tackling is a serious liability against a side that is more likely to run giants at him than kick to him. Hopefully Priestland gets obsessed with kicking. Foden looked pretty sharp, so why not choose him on the bench.

          1. The issue I have with Goode’s caps is he’s largely been getting them at the expense of Brown (who was a pretty indifferent wing). With a fullback on the wing we weren’t capping a wing on the wing hence why our top 3 wingers have 7 caps between them, of which only 4 are in ‘proper’ test matches.

            Time for me to stop being a broken record on this subject and get some work done!

      2. “With Leicester and Wasps not involved in the LV= Cup semi-finals this weekend we are able to keep Matt (Mullan) to provide cover in the front row and also to give Manu more time to get up to speed with the team.”

        No mention of Yarde staying with the squad, but you’re right he’s not on the list or returnees either. SL doesn’t seem to be hinting at a return to the squad for Yarde either, whereas keeping Manu training with the squad would suggest if anyone gets injured between now and Sunday, he will be in.

  8. I’m getting excited now. We are getting written off in most media and all over the place on social media. Old fashioned “go and give it a lash, nothing to lose” type attitude almost descending. Great stuff.

  9. Gatland stoking it up in the media but he’s right – we will see this weekend if england have learned from last time and can deliver. If they can beat this very strong welsh side it may add a bit of belief for the RWC group stage.

    1. Are you referring to the Telegraph headline – “England v Wales will be boys against men again, says Warren Gatland”?

      In the detail of the article I see this quite from Gatland ““All the talk is that the [England] boys have turned into men, that they have learnt some pretty harsh lessons from last year, that they have grown up,” Gatland said with trademark deadpan emphasis. “Time will tell, won’t it? We’ll see on Sunday.” ”

      Which is so far off what the headline claims he said is to possibly even be actionable. Anyway, as Pablito says, Warren is giving back what he’s given and even then he’s nowhere near stoked it up to the level the headline indicates.

      1. Yes but he’s canny enough to know what he’s saying. The headline is probably not far off what he meant.

        Jeez. 3 more days of this rubbish. Trying very hard to be stoic and just look fwd to the match.

        1. “The headline is probably not far off what he meant. ”

          Oh come on. You mean the headline is not far off what you expect he meant as that fits your view of him and your desire to see Gatland as the bad man here. There is no way you can translate “I’ve been told they are men now, we’ll see” (paraphrasing) into the same thing as “It will be boys (England) against men (Wales)”. No way at all. Totally different things to say. One is responding to what he’s been told (and I’ve heard it loads as well) i.e. that the defeat last year won’t be allowed to happen again, that it forged a new mindset/team, we’ll see if that is true; the other is saying that Wales will smash the ickle English newbies.

          1. You’re right Brighty Gats and is true innocent and has been twicked by horrible media. Seriously.

            1. Could everyone please stop responding to Brighty. He’s totally incapable of sensible discussion where the Welsh are involved.

              1. Ok then Bulldog, let’s have your sensible and impartial appraisal of where England are. Or are you only capable of keyboard warrior missives about ostracising people?

      2. That’s Mick Cleary for you. A headline that is designed to sell the column and content that is pretty much inoffensive and often barely related to the headline

        You see the same thing with the England players and coaches

        Its all designed to draw readers in. With some honourable exceptions, the sporting media in this country sink to ever lower depths with every year that passes.

        Gatland does have form for winding oppo players up, but this is not an example of him doing so

    2. He’s right to stoke it up

      “If we can win on Sunday, it will be four in a row against England and if we win the Six Nations as well they start having a few doubts”

      Wales have a major psychological issue with Australia, they have become too adept at beating England. Losing to England at Twickenham next year probably means a group stage exit. He’s not bringing his team down the M4 just to get a win, he’s coming to make a statement. Love or loath him he’s got an excellent track record of delivering when it really matters and I’m very worried he’s going to do it again.

      1. So defeats to New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Argentina don’t really matter. Gatland is good at getting Wales to win 4 or 5 games in a row in February and March. Beyond that he’s not got a great record.

        1. Alan, I’d say it’s the opposite i.e. those defeats are part of what makes this game matter to smuch. To qualify from our group in WC 2015 we will have to beat at least 1 of Aus and Eng (possibly both, but that’s a nightmare scenario for all teams). On current track record, as you say, it’s beating Eng that is the most likely option of those 2. Fail to win on Sunday and we give England a big boost for the WC and deal ourselves some mental baggage to climb over. It adds some spice to Sunday, which is a big enough game in it’s own right as the winner has a decent chance of going on to win the tournament.

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