Lancaster trims squad ahead of Scotland clash


Stuart Lancaster has retained the following 23 players ahead of the opening weekend of the RBS Six Nations:

Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
James Haskell (London Wasps)
Joe Launchbury (London Wasps)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
Joe Marler (Harlequins)
Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby)
Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers)
Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
David Wilson (Bath Rugby)
Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)
Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

BACKS (10)
Chris Ashton (Saracens)
Brad Barritt (Saracens)
Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Danny Care (Harlequins)
Owen Farrell (Saracens)
Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers)
Alex Goode (Saracens)
David Strettle (Saracens)
Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

The following 9 players will return to their clubs:
Mouritz Botha (Saracens)
Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints)
Ben Foden (Northampton Saints)
Jonathan Joseph (London Irish)
Matt Kvesic (Worcester Warriors)
Ugo Monye (Harlequins)
Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks)
Billy Vunipola (London Wasps)
Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers)

England head coach Lancaster said: “We’ve had to make some tough calls with a lot of competition for places. The players’ attitude and application in training has been first rate and we know those going back to their clubs and playing in the LV= Cup will be pushing hard for contention for the Ireland match.”

What would your starting lineup be for the weekend?

43 thoughts on “Lancaster trims squad ahead of Scotland clash

  1. Would have kept Foden over Strettle. Looks like 36 and Barritt in the centres can’t see SL having no orthodox 10 on the bench. Perhaps Goode’s lack of matches will see him on the bench with 36 as the 2nd distributor, Brown at 15 and a genuine right and left wing combo?

    1. I hope not, strettle from 08 was exciting, now he has lost half a yard of pace and the freedom of play.
      I am now definitely hoping for 36 and barritt in the centres, flood farrell barritt has the problem that our only attacking play would be from flood hitting lines off the scrum half, which if it was Danny care would result in our 9 and 10 running through the same hole into each other and farrell and barritt settling down to defend the resulting turnover

  2. just suddenly thought of something, don’t know if it would be a good idea, what do you think?

    seeing as we are using Goode as first receiver, why not play him as fly half, have Brown or Foden as full back and personally i would have put Sharples or Wade in 14 and Ashton 11 and finally use 36 as 13 as he can supposedly kick field goals (i know it’ll be controvertial but could it work?)

    1. I would have liked to see Goode develop as a 10. He played their a fare bit when he first came through and i think he could be a great 10. But i would want him to develop at club level first. Can’t really see it happening at Sarries except maybe when Hodgson retires.

    2. So you’d put 12trees in to kick goals on his international debut in a crunch 6N tie when he doesn’t even kick them for his club side most of the time?

      Surely Goode (fourth most accurate kicker in the whole Premiership last season, if I remember my stats right) would be a more reliable kicker if we are to play like that?

  3. am pretty surprised to see JJ and Foden being left out. happy for 12Ts though.

    otherwise it was a pretty obvious (and decent) team.

    i hope strettle is no23, and that we start with brown and goode. although i dont think he would have been kept in if he wasnt going to start…

    i expect we will see farrell at 10, with his two sarries wings, to chase the ungodly amount of kicking that will surely ensue…

  4. Good team with a nice surprise addition of 12trees however I am disappointed not to see Joseph and Foden in the team. I envisaged a Barritt / Joseph centre combo with Goode acting as a second playmaker to utilise Joseph’s pace and the finishing ability of Ashton and Brown on the wings. However, I fear that we may be heading back to a Flood, Farrell and Barritt combination as I just can’t see 12trees being started on what will be his debut. Hope I am wrong!

    1. he made both his HC debut, and i think even his saxons one, finding out he was starting 10 mins before kick off… imaging what he could do with a whole week! ;)

      i hope 12Ts starts, after all, he is the only person currently who embodies the “passing 12” that lancaster said he wanted at the start of his time in charge. fact of the matter is, if he isnt good enough to start, then he isnt good enough to come off the bench, that should be the view.

    2. SL has not shied away from blooding people in important matches. I will be surprised if its a Flood farrel Barritt midfield and pretty disappointed. Damage limitation was fair enough last year with a tricky away fixture but at home to arguably the worst team we have to show ambition.

  5. I would go with the following from this team:

    1. M. Vunipola
    2. D. Hartley
    3. D. Cole
    4. C. Lawes
    5. G. Parling
    6. T. Wood
    7. C. Robshaw
    8. B. Morgan

    9. D. Care
    10. O. Farrell
    11. M. Brown
    12. B. Twelvetrees
    13. B. Barritt
    14. C. Ashton
    15. A. Goode

    16. J. Marler
    17. D. Wilson
    18. T. Youngs
    19. J. Launchbury
    20. J. Haskell
    21. B. Youngs
    22. T. Flood
    23. D. Strettle

    May be a tad unpopular starting with Hartley and Lawes instead of Youngs and Launchbury but I think the first pair offer more brawn and grit against what will be a very big Scottish pack. Plus, it’s. great having the dynamism of Haskell, Launchbury and Youngs on the bench to be called on and really have the ability to change a game.

    1. i agree with your team except launchbury. where has this notion of him not being big/burly enough come from?!

      b.youngs and care are pretty interchangable in my mind, each one brings something both starting and off the bench, so i cant complain at who starts. similarly, glad that you didnt start strettle.

      however to say that launchbury lacks brawn, based on how he faired in the AIs is a bit harsh, seeing as he made numerous big hits, and effective carries. his ball playing skills are also something that lawes lacks. regarding lawes’ inclusion over launchbury due to his “superior brawn” (i should state that i am a lawes fan, but…) this is the same lawes who was stripped of the ball by a centre in last years 6Ns, leading to the match winning try for wales (preventing england from a grand slam). Launchbury is big enough and burly enough for test rugby, and it is something that, until proven otherwise, people need to stop going on about.

    2. Agree with Hartley over Youngs, his lineout stats are much better as well as bringing a bit more in the tight. Also think Care’s club form should have him starting.

      Parling and Launchbury went so well in the AIs I think they have to be the starting locks, much as I like Lawes. Scottish second row is absolutely massive, comparatively we do lack brawn but I also had those concerns before going up against Etzebeth and co and they proved unfounded.

      Can’t see what Strettle adds as bench cover, with Foden and JJ offering more versatility. Is there a possibility he could be starting with Goode or Brown dropping down? Hope not.

  6. The only thing I would change from Paulo’s team would be Launchbury and Lawes. Lawes would be better as an impact player off the bench. I think Launchbury has a better temperament, and is less likely to give away penalties (and the ball) than Lawes.
    Surprised to see Foden and Joseph discounted. But I think Brown is probably a better winger, and Goode just offers something different at 15.
    I would definitely start with 12T at 12, and move Barritt to 13. Barritt has more pace than people think, and if 12T can get good ball he could create problems for the Scottish midfield.
    All in all it should be an absolute cracker.

    1. Dazza, paulo – what has Tom youngs done to get dropped? you guys are normally spot on, but what am i missing?

      agsint NZ, youngs was excellent, id keep him in there.

      1. I know what you’re saying Jimmy, but Hartley is one of the leaders in the team, and his experience could count against a new Scottish line up. Youngs gives greater impact from the bench than Hartley would.

  7. Yep – by all accounts coming out of Glos (and i’ve not seen any matches myself) 12T will warrant a starting place at 12 as the potential long-term solution there. It does mean that Faz starts at 10 with Flood on the bench. I think Farrell’s NZ-game and Saracens form definitely warrant him keeping the starting place. I’m happy with Barritt at 13. Sure he has his limitations but, again, he did v well vs NZ and continues to dominate for Sarries.

    Form also dictates that the back 3 remain as Brown, Ashton, Goode. The whole team looks so balanced with Goode in it. Foden’s very unlucky to have had an injury (and i would have had him on the bench for certain) but Goode is the man in possession of the shirt right now.

    Similarly, everyone thought Lawes was the saviour of our pack but Launchbury has a more rounded game and he and Parling work well so why change that? Lawes is an excellent impact sub.

    Aside from that i’d probably just shade Hartley ahead of Youngs due to experience.


    As an aside…i watched a lot of Sean Maitland in last year’s S15. I didn’t really believe it was the same “Sean Maitland” in the Scottish line up. He is a fantastic winger. What a coup for Scotland!

    1. lets not get carried away by 12ts. ive watched most ofn his games and hes still v inexpreienced.

      i would even say that without manu we are a different side. the way he delt with nonu & savea was eye watering!

  8. Im worried this could be our most boring back line for some time. It looks increasingly like Barritt will start at 13. Is is not a criticism of individual players, to be considered in the squad they are all good players but I just feel their individual strengths are not the right blend.

    If, as I suspect, SL will select flood, Farrell, Barritt,brown, Ashton and Goode as thwack line I am very concerned.

    Plenty of good footballers, but do you think any of e southern hemisphere nations would be concerned about marking them? Ashton is the only try scoring threat, brown is tidy and neat, but ncapable of scoring from distance, goodies, the same, Barritt is the equivalent of picking joe Worley in centres, not inspiration, just amazing defence and the abili to truck the ball up.

    I like every player selected in the squad but the combination of them really worries me. It is the safest most conservative team that is possible to select.

    There was a chance to be exciting, 12trees with jj in the centres, varndell, sharples or wade on the opposite wing to Ashton. And any one of the 3 full backs could have started.

    Farrell in for his kicking, Barritt in for his tackling, Goode in for his ball playing, brown for his solid play and occasional counter attack…only Ashton will scare a defence.

    My prediction after 2 or 3 games, win or lose we will have scored 2 or 3 tries at best and none of them will make the highlight reel. We will all be crying out for more expansive play, the grand slam will have gone and we will play well in he last match and then we will all say we are on course. For rwc 2015..which I now believe we are not

    1. I think you’re underestimating Brown, Goode and Barritt a lot. Goode can scare the defence just by stepping into the midfield in an attack. It just puts a doubt in the defence because he’s so difficult to read with the ball in hand. He has a nack of squeezing through tackles and getting over the gain line. Brown is similar, but is much quicker off the mark and into his running, and he also has a very good boot. Barritt has the strength and ability to drive two or three defenders over the gain line, with the potential to create overlaps and defensive gaps. Moving him out to 13, with 12T at 12, could actually improve the midfield.

      At the same time I suspect you could be right, in that we’ll see a starting line up of Flood, Farrell and Barritt. But even so with Brown, Ashton and Goode we could still cause Scotland some serious problems. Visser is about as good as Varndell when asked to turn and defend (useless), and Ashton should have some joy down his flank. Don’t know anything about Maitland, but Brown is a pretty good defender, so that should be interesting.

  9. I am really disappointed with the selection on Strettle. As I think it means he is starting. I can’t imagine him being in the squad just to be on the bench.
    This isn’t necessarily how I’d have it, but this is how I think we will line up:
    1. Marler
    2. Hartley
    3. Cole
    4 Launchbury
    5. Parling
    6. Wood
    7. Robshaw
    8. Morgan
    9. Youngs
    10. Farrell
    11. Strettle
    12. Twelvetrees
    13. Barritt
    14. Ashton
    15. Goode

    16. Youngs
    17. Vunipola
    18. Wilson
    19. Lawes
    20. Haskell
    21. Care
    22. Flood
    23. Brown

    I would personally have a straight swap for Foden in for Strettle. Other than that it is what I would go for.

    When Burns and Tuilagi are fit I would have them both straight back in for Farrell and Barritt respectively.

    Other than that, it is basically the best England side we have right now.

    1. Why would Strettle not be on the bench?

      I’d go for the same team, except Brown to start, Strettle as a replacement.

    2. Why would Strettle being in the squad mean he’s got to start? Having Strettle on the bench makes sense to me. With Flood and Strettle on the bench and Farrell, Brown and Goode starting, the backline is covered from 10 to 15. Farrell can move out to the centre, Strettle covers the wing (and has played 13 before, as has Goode), Brown can play wing or FB, Flood can play 10 or 12.

      1. The only reason I say that it that Strettles strongest assets are not those of a sub, or certainly not an impact sub. He is a solid player who is very good at kick chasing. Thats is why my thought process was that we would start, with a Saracens back three and 10, and our game plan would be that of Saracens.

        Obviously I may be wrong, but that is what I think may happen.

        1. That’s fair, you may well be right. The familiarity with the other Saracens could be in his favour.

          I think Brown was one of the more threatening players in the Autumn so I hope that he gets the start.

  10. A few journos reporting today that 12trees and Barritt will be the centre combo. Better than any Flood-Barritt-Farrell combo I reckon, but still would have like to see JJ at least on the bench.

  11. 12ts to start at 12, and youngs to start at 2. Marler gets the nod at 1.

    Pretty decent looking team, especially as brown gets 11, so strets is on the bench.

    Glad 12ts gets his shot. There are enough “experienced” players round him to let him have a go.

  12. Glad to see 12ts in, is a genuine chance for aassing crestive 12 and will bring the best out of manu, when he plays. Sad about foden he has been one of our best players over the past few years and he didn’t play abdly he got injured.

    I’m not convinced about Goode but he is a good player. Strettle shouldn’t be there at all but over all a good squad.

    Manu, croft and burns to come in after injury. Burns is a more complete player than farrel, his kicking procentages are the same as farrel’s this year, and has more options as a game manager. People need to see that farrel does the simple things because that is all he is capab,e of doing, he is limited.

  13. I really hope I am wrong, but I can’t see the point of keeping Strettle unless he’s starting. He may have played 13 before but it would only be desperation that puts him there in an international.

    Its the situation I most dread but it looks like it’ll be Farrell, 36, Barritt, Strettle, Ashton and Goode with Brown on the bench to cover the back 3

    Say goodbye to any attacking threat as Farrell spends all day lofting the ball into the air for the sarries wingers to chase.

    God I hope I’m just being overly pessimistic, but this line-up would not surprise me

    1. I think Brown will start over Strettle. Lancaster seems to be a big fan of the ‘credit in the bank’ school of selecting, so I think Brown’s good form in the autumn will count strongly in his favour.

      Having said that, another (and worse) option would be to revert Brown to fullback with Strettle on the wing and Goode on the bench. That would be the worst of all scenarios, in my opinion.

      1. I hope so Jamie. If you are right about the credit idea, I think it’ll line up

        Youngs (would prefer Care)

      1. Thanks Jamie, it should have been obvious really.
        Talking of Irish accents, I have a Irish friend from Tipperary. My Dad was having a discussion with him about a recent trip to Edinburgh. My friend Tom said “Ah, they’ve got some great bears in Edinburgh” my Dad replied “They don’t have bears in Scotland! I think they used to have wolves but not bears!” Tom says “Not bears, BARS!”
        Anyway thought I’d share it with you.

  14. A lot of people are touting Marler as the starting loose head. I am not 100% sure why, so far Vunipola has shown real threat when he has been on the pitch, aside from 1 slightly harsh yellow card he has been threatening.
    I haven’t seen any prop get his opposite man off the floor since Perugini made a habit of it a while ago and never saw Marler run through a back row player like he wasn’t there (Dave Dennis)

  15. As I say I’m not saying the players aren’t good individually but I don’t see much threat.

    Barritt is strong, but I am afraid he is can’t pass or won’t pass. He lacks the pace to be a test 13. Whilst he might get away with it if it rains v Scotland, but not against big 3.

    I agree Goode is a threat, but like…..everyone bar Ashton lacks the pace to worry a top tier team

    Fussier might be like varndell on the turn, but he is as dangerous and prolific as varndell going forward, he’ll score on Saturday.

    Mainland is very dangerous, not very Scottish, but dangerous and Hogg has the footwork of Goode but with searing pace. I watch a lot of Celtic league rugby, these 3 could tear us apart. However Lamonts hands are as good as barritts so they won’t.

    Agree brown has got a good boot, but i prefer my wingers do to electric quick, he is not.
    It seems to me we have gone with a safe solid (boring) midfield with some creative outside backs with no gas.

    Sadly I am expecting a bore fest.

  16. I reckon it will be

    Launch bury

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