Our England team for the Autumn Internationals

Ben FodenBen Foden: selected in everyone’s England team

Opinions are divided as to what England’s starting XV should be, and not least here at The Rugby Blog HQ. We can’t agree amongst ourselves, and the different teams we’ve come up with highlight what a tough job that Johnno has.

Our selections in the forwards don’t differ hugely, where we agree on 5 out of the 8 positions. Ben Coles chose Tim Payne over Andrew Sheridan in the front row, as well as Nick Kennedy in the second row alongside Courtney Lawes. Hutch and Stu went for Tom Palmer after his strong performances in the summer, whilst Nick Heath is sticking with Simon Shaw.

But it’s in the backs where the selection headaches really start. We’re divided down the middle as to the best partner for Ben Youngs at half-back, with Hutch and Ben opting for Jonny Wilkinson, and Stu and Nick favouring Toby Flood.

At centre, we’ve assumed that Riki Flutey won’t be available for selection, and whilst three of us have chosen Olly Barkley and Mike Tindall, Ben would shift Tindall to 12 and put Delon Armitage at 13. Given that Barkley is nowhere near the squad at the moment, he won’t get a look-in, but it shows that he has some support around here.

Then in the back three, Chris Ashton was a shoo-in on the wing, whilst Hutch and Nick did their best to fit Armitage and Ben Foden in somewhere. Stu would drop Armitage though, and bring in our old favourite James Simpson-Daniel.

Here are our ideal England teams for the Autumn Internationals – what is yours?

1Andrew SheridanAndrew SheridanAndrew SheridanTim Payne
2Dylan HartleyDylan HartleyDylan HartleyDylan Hartley
3Dan ColeDan ColeDan ColeDan Cole
4Tom PalmerTom PalmerSimon ShawNick Kennedy
5Courtney LawesCourtney LawesCourtney LawesCourtney Lawes
6Tom CroftTom CroftTom CroftTom Croft
7Lewis MoodyLewis MoodyLewis MoodyLewis Moody
8Nick EasterNick EasterNick EasterNick Easter
9Ben YoungsBen YoungsBen YoungsBen Youngs
10Jonny WilkinsonToby FloodToby FloodJonny Wilkinson
11Delon ArmitageJames Simpson-DanielDelon ArmitageMark Cueto
12Olly BarkleyOlly BarkleyOlly BarkleyMike Tindall
13Mike TindallMike TindallMike TindallDelon Armitage
14Chris AshtonChris AshtonChris AshtonChris Ashton
15Ben FodenBen FodenBen FodenBen Foden

Photo: Patrick Khachfe/Onside Images

60 thoughts on “Our England team for the Autumn Internationals

  1. Why would ben shit tindall? That would hurt! And what does dowson have to do to get a look in? Surely more worthy than easter?

  2. Haha! Crucial ‘f’ now added, thanks Sam! Agree with you about Dowson, would love to see him in the set up and challenging at 8. He hasn’t been playing there for Saints though, and Croft deserves the 6 shirt at the moment, but he’d be ideal for a spot on the bench to start with.

  3. Well as a tigers fan I couldn’t say anyone over croft ;) but, Richard Hill moved position for England when we had to accommodate Back’s ‘speciality’ game; and although Dowson is no Hill, he is proven at 8, and provides us with more dynamism than Easter!

  4. Dowson so very nearly figured in my side. Used to have an issue with Easter’s plodding nature but I think he’s fitter and sharper this season.

    Johnno’s brought Hodgson in for Wilko who’s nursing a ‘sore shoulder’. None of us have even considered him. Poor Olly.

  5. This team is who I would like to see

    1. Sheridan
    2. Hartley
    3. Cole
    4. Lawes
    5. Kennedy
    6. Croft
    7. Moody
    8. Dowson
    9. Youngs
    10. Flood
    11. Strettle
    12. Barritt
    13. James Simpson-Daniel
    14. Ashton
    15. Foden

    16. Thompson
    17. Marler
    18. Shaw or DWS
    19. Robshaw
    20. Simpson
    21. Wilko
    22. Tindall or Waldouck

  6. This is the team that I think we will see

    1. Sheridan
    2. Hartley
    3. Cole
    4. Lawes
    5. Palmer
    6. Croft
    7. Moody
    8. Easter
    9. Youngs
    10. Flood
    11. Strettle or Cueto
    12. Tindall
    13. Hape
    14. Ashton
    15. Foden

    16. Thompson
    17. Paul Doran Jones
    18. Shaw (DWS if Shaw isn’t fit)
    19. Haskell
    20. Care
    21. Wilko (Hodgson is Wilko not fit)
    22. Armitage

  7. Whilst I’m a huge Sinbad fan, playing him at 13 doesn’t seem sensible at international level. I think he’d be a great bench option, mainly as back three cover but could come in at centre if necessary.

    Still torn over Dowson or Easter. As I’ve said before, if England play a dynamic, offloading game (if only!), Easter is perfect – runs hard, stays on his feet and has great hands. If they don’t, I’d rather have Dowson to inject some dynamism himself.

  8. Surprised you’ve all picked Hartley, I thought Thompson had a great summer tour and has looked good this season for Leeds. Bit of experience and scrummaging strength. I personally still don’t trust Hartley in an England shirt to deliver.

    Has Andy Sheridan really done enough this year to start? He didn’t look brilliant v Leeds.

    With Ashton and Foden in the back three I quite like the idea of having a winger with a big boot on him, so would pick Cueto, brings a bit of experience too and has played well over the years. But Armitage works too in that respect.

    Big shame Flutey’s injured.

  9. Easter always goes missing during the big international matches! At club level he does look good, but time and time again he is completely useless for England. I know he has has a few of good games for England, but a few good games out of 34 Caps is not good enough and IMO he does not deserve a place in the squad

    Granted, JSD is a winger but he’s also spent a lot of time playing at 13 and I think he’d slot in quite well (plus we’d never know unless it was tried lol)

  10. Wouldn’t mind Barritt Allen or Waldouck claiming one of the centre berths. All would be deserving, and give us a good option for the future

  11. Thompson seems to be struggling to get a starting place in a Leeds team that is really struggling, where Hartley is playing fantastic rugby for one of this seasons top teams, so I personally don’t think there’s any surprise he’s being picked to start. Unfortunately Flutey has look poor all season and so IMO doesn’t deserve a place at the moment anyway. Sheridan has also look too average since his come back, but who else do we have? And please don’t suggest Tim payne as he is a waste of space.

  12. Re Hooker – Hartley is the future and he does seem to grow up with every game, so the more game time he gets the better in my view. Thought you were going to mention Mears for a moment, Paddy!

    Re Centre – not convinced by Allen and Waldouck, and whilst I rate Barritt and applaud his call-up, not quite sure any of them are international standard just yet.

    Re Strettle – you can have him Nick. I’d swap him for SW, Prydie or Halfpenny

  13. England should be so lucky Hutch! ;-) Hartley’s always played good rugby… at club level. Can he make the step up? See what you mean about being the future but I think Thompson is a better player now.

    Payne actually had a good season for England and tends to look a lot better when not surrounded by the Wasps tight 5. His work-rate is pretty good around the pitch even if he doesn’t get his hands on the ball much, ok at all.

    Flood any day of the week for me. Another for the future, needs to start being trusted for England and given a run of games to grow into the role. Wilkinson/Hape/Tindall couldn’t unlock the Italy defence, let alone the 3N. Amazing how threadbare we are at 12 :-(

  14. Tindall at 12 because with no Flutey, Barkley abandoned and Barritt on debut, there was no other real option. Oh, and I dislike Hape. So Tindall to 12 and Armitage in at 13 has a pretty good balance

  15. Our woe’s at centre are “enlarged” by the Sonny Bill factor if Quade Cooper is frightened of him we should be very afraid! I think Hape and Tindall as our two biggest lumps in the backs will def start against the All Blacks.

    On the Prop front I’d love to see Joe Marler get a shout, has anyone seen that try he scored against Wales U21 last year? If not you tibe it right now he has moves like Billy Whizz.

  16. As a Saints fan I am happy with the inclusions of a few players that will not be doubted (Ashton/Foden and Lawes). For the discussion about Hartley I need to say that he never played well for England. his form at the moment is good so he will get another, last?, chance. Please do not forget that Dylan at the Saints is accompanied with Tonga’huia and Mujati/Murray who are 3 of the best scrummagers in the league. With Sheridan and Cole I think he will have a very tough time on International level. We will see as there is nothing better at the moment. I would love to see Lawes/Kennedy on 4 and 5 my absolute dream combination! Croft and Moody are obvious and easy picks but Easter, I don’t know. With Dowson you bring in a very versatile player who can play 6/7/8. Probably he will be on the bench for that reason. I can live with that. 9 Ben Youngs and 10 Flood. With the World Cup in the back of our minds already, Wilko should be a perfect back-up for Toby. Let’s start shaping the team already and give Toby the lead at 10. 11/12/13 I agree with Stuart. JSD on 11 Yes Please!

    At least the team looks much brighter than a year ago when we had discussions about Lee Mears, Andy Goode, Borthwick and Deacon…..

  17. My effort at an England side

    1. Sheridan (payne is awful)
    2. Hartley (think Webber may well be the best soon enough but only just finding some form again)
    3. Dan Cole (very impressed with him)
    4. Nick Kennedy (amazed he never seems to get the proper chances)
    5. Courtney Lawes (impressive)
    6. Croft (no brainer)
    7. Moody (until Rees is back on top form or Armitage recovers)
    8. Easter (havent seen much of Dowson personally)
    9. Youngs (as Simpson is injured again. Youngs is good but I think Simpson better)
    10. Flood (very under rated by a lot of people imo)
    11. Strettle (imo best winger you have)
    12. Barkley (REALLY should be English first choice, amazing he isn’t)
    13. Waldouck (main problem position. I dont rate tindall, Matt Smith looks interesting, Waldouck has potential, JSD is an option. You have issue here imo).
    14. Ashton (another no brainer)
    15. Foden (though I am not as impressed with him as almost all of England, and think Delon, who I rate very highly, could well come back to make the position his own)

  18. I’d like to see dowson in there and was surprised they called up Tom Wood ahead of him. And while I’m a big Strettle fan, I think if Ashton is a shoo-in, Cueto brings balance to the back 3. But every time Sinbad plays he just provides touches nobody else can do. His sliding run and then slightly delayed soft pass to create a try for Charlie Sharples on Saturday were awesome and there is nobody else in the English game who could do that.

    I also reckon they’ll go with Hape and Tindall which is almost as an uninspiring as it comes. But Hape does have more to his game than Barritt – Barritt and Tindall would be proper rugby league style smashing it up.

    10 is also very tough indeed, not least because Flood has been injured and we haven’t seen much of Wilko. Hodgson is probably the best allrounder but questions remain over his temperament. But none is perfect by a long stretch.

    After all this though, the most important people arethe coaches – will they give their men licence to play and not overfill their heads with useless informatino and pressure? If not, it doesn’t matter who is on the park.

  19. Centre is the problem position, particularly now that Flutey is out. In the past, England management have opted for big ball-carrying, big tackling centres against the Kiwis, and that’s likely to be the same again…Hape and Tindall.

    If that is the plan, Johnno might as well give Brad Barritt a try…

    Any other predictions for what the centres will actually be??

  20. Strettle’s defence is terrible and apart from one try he scored 3 years ago his finishing isnt up to international standard.

    Cueto, Ashton and Foden is a very good back 3.

    Dowson seems to play his best on the flank, but would be ideal bench cover.

    The centres are a real problem area – we seem to have a lot of talent, but no-one seems to know how to put it together!

  21. Re Joe Marler, played against him last year when he was at Esher and he scored a try from 40 yards, outpacing our centre. He’s an absolute beast around the park. I know bugger all about scrummaging but if they say that’s his best suit then given what he’s like in broken play he must be pretty damn good at it. What a prospect. Shame about the lid though.

  22. Marler was apparently taken apart at scrum time last weekend by Doran-Jones. Not sure a 20 year old prop still learning his trade against the All Blacks and Boks is quite an ideal scenario?

    Agree with Nick about Strettle’s defence. He may have cost us the Maori win in the summer. Has to be Cueto, Ashton and Foden surely. Good boot, and plenty of experience from Cueto in a relatively green back three.

    Still gutted about Flutey. Would love to have seen a 10,12,13 of Flood/Flutey/Tinds.

    Good article on Wilkinson here: http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-union/news-comment/peter-bills-england-must-not-start-declining-wilkinson-2116031.html

  23. Dowson’s time has come. Please, please give him a start Johnno! I’d be amazed (and delighted) if he picked Lawes and Kennedy, but don’t think it will happen. Let’s hope Lawes gets the chance though. Lawes and Shaw (if fit) would be my best guess for Johnno’s selection.

  24. Johnson is a bit like a cheated upon wife – “ok Charlie, i know you’ve let me down time and time (and time again), but i’ll give you one more go”. How many times do we need evidence of the fact that Hodgson is a quite sublime club level rugby player but gets a brain melt anywhere in the TW1 region of England? What’s the point in bringing (fine, even as back up) a player that we know can’t hack it at international level. Its as pointless as, oh i dunno, Louis Deacon?

    Which brings me on to the more optimistic point. This team, vs a year ago, is poles apart. The very fact that we have so much young blood in Youngs, Cole, Lawes, Foden, Ashton, etc… means we should all be very grateful and positive about what future holds

    Like eveyrone else, the centres are the issue – and Johnson’s view I think is clearly still very negative and defensive here – focused on ensuring that we don’t get overrun in midfield rather than believing that Tindall and Hape are fundamentally going to open anything up – i think we all know that is highly unlikely. But we’ve been there in the past where opposition 12 and 13 just run striaght through us and hopefully that won’t happen with these 2?

  25. Agree with that Garnetto…there is a lot of promising young talent in the squad, and there are fewer people outside it that ought to be there. Compared to the last several years, this is very encouraging.

    I’m just looking forward to the next year or so, beating everyone, winning the World Cup and declaring Johnno a coaching genius as well as a playing legend…!

  26. Easter v Dowson
    Dowson. better footballer and tactical brain. my issue with Easter is that he gets left behind in terms of pace, dowson isnt the quickets tho.tough call but i prefer dowson as hes younger.

    Centres we have a problem, im not good enough to solve it!

    Cueto – all he has is a decent left boot. he is slower than tim payne i think. the fastest over 40 m in the england squad is David strettle. i really rate him as well. Youngs is the second quickest btw and mark Cueto is about as quick as Graham Rowntree.

    Delon and foden will be fighting it out for years.

  27. Johnson’s trying to build a team in the remaining 12 matches, suddenly offering a cap to Dowson out of the blue when Easter is well respected and plays well for England (and has bags of experience, ie. playing in a WC final) would be counter-productive I think.

    RE: Sinbad, mention his name and ‘England’ in the same sentence and he’ll get injured!! I don’t think we should be building a team with a guy who most likely won’t be around for the next year.

  28. Easter may be the one with the experience, but thats like saying lets bring Borthwick back because he’s experienced!!! Easter is not good enough. Simple. He plays well for club and has put in a few good performances in the white jersey, but a few out of 34 caps is nowhere near good enough. Dowson is fantastic, though I’d be happy to see near enough anyone else at 8. Possible options (not necessarily good options) are move Croft/Robshaw/Haskell to 8. Lawerence Dallaglio was often switched from 6 to 8 and vis versa

  29. Defo Hartley @ hooker he has the making of a truly world class hooker

    No mention of Attwood at Lock, I’d pick him above Kennedy & Palmer atm especially with the potential of the long term partnership with Lawes.

    Youngs & Flood as club and international pairing is very exciting!

    Only areas of weakness is the centre… for this autumn it will probably be Tindall and Hape but there is real potential coming through with guys like Waldouck, Allen, JTH, George Lowe, James Ticknell (Leeds Tykes) and I still think Rob Vickerman has a future but only if he could get himself to a club down south where I think we’d see the best of him…. and then there is MANU TUILAGI (cheeky bet on Manu to start England first game of RWC!)

  30. England Starting XV for opening game of RWC (it’s very young and 99% sure it isnt going to happen but very exciting at the same time!)

    1. Sheridan
    2. Hartley
    3. Marler/Stevens (wild card… couple of years off and a bit of R&R could be just what is needed for a prop at his stage of his career, he could come back very strongly)
    4. Attwood
    5. Lawes
    6. Croft
    7. Moody
    8. Easter
    9. Youngs
    10. Flood
    11. Strettle
    12. Tuilagi
    13. Lowe
    14. Ashton
    15. Foden

  31. Here’s my two-penneth worth. Unlucky 13 really had me struggling. The centres are England’s major problem at the moment and I’m not sure what the answer is…

    1. Sheridan (I’m not a massive fan of Payne)
    2. Thompson (Best hooker in the country at the moment IMO. Hartley might be the future but he’s gone off the boil a bit this season)
    3. Dan Cole (Definitely)
    4. Nick Kennedy (One of the best line out forwards we have. Surprised he’s never been given much of a chance)
    5. Courtney Lawes (Definitely)
    6. Croft (Agree with RugbyNick, no brainer)
    7. Moody (Tough call as Hendre Fourie has been immense this season in a – much as I hate to say this – poor Leeds side. Fourie’s injury and Moody being captain tip it in Moody’s favour)
    8. Dowson (Seriously, what does this man have to do to be picked by England? Fantastic performances week after week for Saints)
    9. Youngs (World class in the making)
    10. Flood (More dynamic than Wilko/Hodgson and it makes sense to keep such a good club half-back partnership together)
    11. Cueto (not convinced by Strettle, Delon Armitage is better at fullback)
    12. Barkley (I mean, come on. With Flutey injured it’s got to be Barkley!)
    13. Waldouck (Bit tricky. Tindall played well for England last time out but is hardly the future. If we’re planning for the RWC then give Waldouck a go, with maybe Tinds on the bench. Hape’s not done enough to convince me yet).
    14. Ashton (No brainer)
    15. Foden (Owns the shirt at the moment but I’m pleased to see Delon’s form back to where it was after it dropped away last season and is pushing Foden all the way)

  32. Whilst I appreciate that Dowson is an excellent player, he is clearly more of a flanker than a No. 8. His Saxon and England performances at No 8 have been a very mixed bag (he was poor against the NZ Maori and in the 2009 Churchill Cup) so putting ahead of someone who is an out and out No. 8 is a bit silly, even for MJ. Easter in not the quickest player on the planet but if speed was the prerequisite for great forward play then Pierre Spies would be the best rugby player ever.
    I do think Dowson should at least figure in the matchday 22 though. And lets not forget that Croft (excellent player that he is) has only had one or two decent games for England, despite Geech turning him into a genuine world class player for the 2009 Lions!

  33. Compelling argument from Nick, and im a dowson fan.

    Who is the best 8 in the premiership? THomas Waldrom by a long way and hes definitely not fast, but hes a big lump who makes yards, tackles but most importantly hes a great footballer who reads the game excellently – see his try from Youngs pass against the scarlets, class.

    so nick is right in a way about speed etc, but sadly Easter isnt the footballer that Waldrom is so Englands search for a No 8 goes on.

    what happened to narraway?

  34. I think Dowson is a superb player and would love to see him given a run at No8 for Saints followed by a run at No 8 for England in the 6N. Saints have some big Heineken Cup games coming up to test him.

    Waldron is really world class, despite looking like a fat Tory MP!

    Other that than the No 8 cupboard is a little bare. Narroway seems to have fallen off the radar, Crane (another lumbering but effective player) is injured and DWS is in lock/No 8 limbo. Tom Guest at Quins is promising and I always thought Don Barrell at Sarries was very talented but he doesnt even make their first team these days.

  35. Ha ha waldrom is the wierdest looking person in the premiership.
    how about a wierd looking fantasy 15?

  36. IMO, whoever is picked for the AI’s should be Johnno’s first choice come RWC – whether we like it or not (and I’m sure they’ll be a few that i disagree with!!!). We’re too close to the RWC to be mixing and matching the starting XV each game. The players need consistency before going into the RWC and unfortunately any players not selected for the AI’s should not be utilised in the RWC (unless injury cover). I’d love to see the likes of Dowson, Kennedy, JSD, Barkley, Robshaw involved, but it’s just not going to happen. The only player, IMO, who might make the RWC squad that is not included now is Matt Stevens – depending on his form when he returns in January

  37. Croft is excellent in a lineout, as we all know, due to his height & weight. But we need stopping power against the All Blacks etc. And he won’t be the guy stopping them. His tackle count is low & weak. Moody will perform above & beyond but the injury could flair up purely due to his commitment to the tackling he will put in. My choice would be Worsley over Croft for tackles & as a 6/7 or 8 a natural replacement for Moody, just in case.

  38. I’m surprised by the general consensus among the editorial team that sees Barkley picked… it’s certainly not based on past international performances or current form… Flood and Sir Johnnie of Wilko are both in tremendous form. Flood has played 12, and importantly has played there outside Johnnie. There’s my 10 and 12… with Youngs playing and SJW’s current form I don’t think we need to worry about the England backline lying as deep as it has with him in the 10 shirt in years past.

    I’m also surprised that Sheridan is being recalled straight to the starting line up. I’ve not seen anything in his Premiership performances to suggest he’s back to his best. While it’s not true that PDJ trampled young Marler at scrum time (the problem for Quins was on the other side) the Gloucester player would certainly be my pick. He can play both sides, he’s work rate is very good and he played well when handed the England shirt last season. Why he’s been dropped back so rapidly down the pecking order by the management is beyond me.

    Nick – While it is true Dowson lacks a number of the skills associated with a traditional 8 I don’t see that at international level Easter offers anything more. If a player is good enough to be called up, he’s good enough to be given a run of games to prove himself. Dowson would be my 8. The side could use the leadership skills. And with a back row that includes Croft at 6 some mongrel in the tight is needed at 8.

    Finally, those putting Kennedy beside Lawes need to think about the tight game and not just open play (and in particular not just open play a season ago). At scrum time the tight head will need an engine behind him. Shaw offered that last season. Palmer should now. And his line out skills are clearly unnecessary when Lawes and Croft are such adept jumpers and when Palmer and Dowson are also used by their clubs.

  39. @Vince

    Worseley? That’s an insane call. At best his inclusion can be used to stem an attacking threat – that of an individual, say Roberts, or of a an area, say the outside fringe. But that’s all he offers. He can’t carry. His support play is poor. He certainly won’t offer anything to English tacklers and ball carriers competing with the likes of McCaw and Pocock out wide. The only argument I can see for his inclusion is damage limitation. But even then, if you think the way to keep the score tight against the ABs is just to stop them scoring you’re heading for a hammering.

  40. Mine would be a I have to stress I’m NOT a saints fan. I’m just going with the players in form..

    1. Sheridan
    7.Moody\Woods (on bench)

  41. downey is irish old bean, but id happily make him english!

    has anyone seen Tom johnson play in the back row for exeter? star of the furture i reckon

  42. @morgan I agree that it is more likely to be 2015 but only because we are England and reluctant to change… if players like Lowe and Tuilagi were Aussie or Kiwi they would definitely be given the jersey if they were good enough.

    Exciting times for England especially if Floody and Youngs can become a strong partnership. With respect it’s time for Wilko, Tindall and non English born players to step aside we have enough talent coming through to be in great shape for 2015 and maybe just 2011!

  43. I’m interested to know why frailties people think of my team?…

    I think my team has a lot of ball carriers\off loaders\leaders.. Easter, lawes, sheridan, downey, kennedy, hartley..

    Workmen in moody, lawes, croft etc

    And I think the partnership between flood and youngs has been excellent this season, as well as the center partnership, that has also been outstanding.
    In my eyes why breakup positives this season and try to use them to our advantage…I think flood, because he plays so flat on the gain line player like Downey could make a real impact and threaten the allblacks line

    The back three is pretty much as expected… Maybe put alex goode on the bench to start giving him a taste of international experience. Goodes tacktical kicking is very good, maybe if Foden keeps running up deadends against NZ it might be a wise bench choice.

  44. @ mark

    already mentioned the problems of picking Kennedy next to Lawes…

    Picking Downey and Clarke as a combination makes sense, they obviously know each other’s game. However, neither has any experience of international rugby and the ABs is probably not the right game to hand a 12 and 13 their first full cap. It’s also extremely harsh on Tindall, who has been the form 13 in the Premiership over the last month.

    I’d also like to see Alex Goode included in the set up… but he’s looked a little less than on full form in the last couple of games for Saracens. I’d certainly like to see him introduced against Samoa if he can pick his club form up a little beforehand.

  45. Obviously Downey is Irish and has had 3 Ireland A caps… But he could still get selected on citizenship grounds.

  46. Here’s a question… And I’m only speaking from a rugby point of view, and not past form is Lewis moody the best 7 we have as a country?

    I personally am starting to rate other players higher. I think in this order players which I think should fill that role after he’s stepped down.

    Andy Saul – very fast, strong and good on the ground.
    Tom Woods – this lad has it all I just hope he fills his potential
    Tom Reece – very good on the ground, not a great ball carrier, and often injured
    Calum Clarke – highly rated
    Steffon Armatage – good a club level, but question marks over international form.

    To me it seems we do have a lot of quality in reserve but are they better than what we already have?

  47. Steffon Armitage cant, and wont ever hack it @ int level.
    I agree with mark s, i think tom woods will be a fantastic player given time.
    Andy sual is like a smaller version of richie mccaw. sadly, saul is 14.7 stone, mccaw is 16+ stone
    so hes just too small for int rugby and no, hes not the next neal back!

    i keep banging on about him but Tom johnson @ exeter looks like the real deal

  48. I tend to agree as well, Mark. I don’t necessarily see Moody as the best option for England at the World Cup. I rate Andy Saull very highly, and he was probably just behind Tom Wood for the call-up as injury cover.

    Not convinced by Armitage (although probably could be), but in Wood and Saull, England has two great potential candidates for the openside.

    Croft, Wood/Saull and Guest could be a good combo in a year or two…there’s a bit of pace there!

  49. It is a shame really because we have talent in the reserves like the England A but we don’t often give them the chance…

    And teams like france, NZ, SA and the aussies tend to give young player a chance in key areas.

  50. 1. Sheridan
    2. Hartley
    3. Coles
    4. Shaw
    5. Lawes
    6. Croft
    7. Moody
    8. Haskell
    9. Youngs
    10. Flood (but only because Wilkinson’s been ruled out with his shoulder)
    11. Monye
    12. Barkley
    13. Tindall
    14. Ashton
    15. Foden.

  51. I’d like to say I think the England team for saturday looks very strong and fingers crossed we’ll get the W saturday…

    Come on lads….

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