Pick the England XV for the second test


Ahead of England’s second test against New Zealand this weekend, put yourself in Stuart Lancaster’s (unenviable) shoes and pick your starting XV for the game. Once the team has been announced, we’ll compare Lancaster’s team with the TRB readers’ team.

Loose-head prop

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Tight-head prop

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Second row (pick two)

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Flankers (pick two)

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Number 8

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Centres (pick two)

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Wingers (pick two)

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Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

48 thoughts on “Pick the England XV for the second test

  1. As the second voter, I can see that I agreed with the first on every position other than hooker (I chose Webber instead of Hartley)

    I suspect the polls will be a lot more divided as time goes on. I certainly don’t envy the coaching team on having to pick the starting XV for the second test!

  2. It’s nice that the first team almost picks itself by now- most of the winning choices in the 80/90% of votes. And lots of competition for places in case someone slips up.

    Went with the obvious choices for most but picked Webber over Hartley (bit of a lack of game time for Hartley) and Morgan over Vunipola- just think the latter was looking a little worn out by the end of the season and with two final losses… Also I like the fact we would then have a strong bench to come on and really make a difference in the final moments.

    Still not sold on any of our wing options as ‘the ones’ to take us to 2015 glory. Also we need a 12 to cement their place- like Danny care or Mike brown did with 9 and 15 respectively. 12T, Eastmond or Burrell? I went for Burrell, but not sure he fits Lancaster’s vision of a 12.

  3. Voted for burns at ten just because Owen seems to have a niggling foot injury and reckon it could do with a bit of a rest. Also, although I am a fan of Owen, think it will be good for us to give someone else a few caps at 10. Anthony Watson got my vote because he is the complete package for a winger and the sooner he starts getting game time the better. Only other vote I went for against the trend was to stick with eastmond, I just think he offers something different to any other centre abs given some time him and Manu could be special. The fact he held up defensively puts my fears about him at ease.

  4. I also went for Webber, hard to drop him after the first test, but also Hartleys fitness/sharpness for me may not be on the money.

    Centre is the biggest call for me. Burrell and Tuilagi, but Eastmond had a stormer! I’d be inclined to have Eastmond on the bench.

    Wing is another tough one. May did ok, his lateral running will get him caught out, it nearly happened in the first test.

    The coaching team have a hard task, and the choices for this test may define the next one.

  5. I would make changes for this test. Give those that missed out due to the final a chance to stake their claim. (Hartley, Lawes, Wood, Burrell, Farrell, Vunipola, Ashton in starting lineup, Foden on bench)

    Then for the 3rd test, Lancaster will have tested a large number of players, and can make more of an informed decision.

  6. I picked Hartley, Haskell and kept my faith in launchbury over parling. The first two based solely on their ability to carry and add some dynamism, harsh on webber as he played well but ‘The brand’ did everything wood would do and gave go forward.

    Eastmond and Tuilagi write themselves in for me, give them a run of games if it doesn’t work either of 36 or Burrell can slot in at 12 without any time with Tuilagi.

    Care has 9 nailed on, but his box kicking is poor in comparison to Youngs. I’d like youngs in with two good kick chasing wingers in yarde
    And Watson. But care has to go in.

    Farrell is out, composure recently had hit all time lows. Give the others a go see if they can match his level, nothing to lose as we know what he can do.

  7. Well I don’t know if Lancaster will view these votes, but they seem pretty clear who most of us think should play. I mean 12T with only 36 votes! I bet he’ll still play though!
    I think to some degree with all these players coming back most of the team picks itself. The only dilemma really facing is which centre partnership to go for. I think we’ve waited long enough to see how Burrell and Tuilagi can work together. Come on Mr. Lancaster, you know you want to!!!!!!!!!

    1. Thing is, Bomber likes having a playmaker and a gainline-breaker in the centres. Burrell is basically another bosher, and you’d be left with a pretty one-dimensional centre partnership.

      Remember Burrell’s try against Wales, where he latched onto a perfectly-weighted grubber put through by 36? Would either of those centres attempt that, or even be able to? I’m not so sure.

      1. I know where you’re coming from, but I think Burrell is capable if it’s asked of him. I’ve seen some very deft touches from him in the last couple of seasons for Saints. The other thing about that is the Kiwi’s probably wouldn’t expect it of him either.
        I would still rather see Eastmond play than 12T. 12T hasn’t played since 17th April, so although may be fit, he’s had no game time for nearly two months!!

        1. On your last point, Eastmond hadn’t played since 27th April when he took to the field on Saturday, so I’m not sure that will put Bomber off selecting him.

          1. Aside from that one grubber, what else has 12T done?

            His playmaking seems to be done by rote rather than playing what’s in front of him. His passing is often inaccurate, he doesn’t break the gainline and his defence remains slightly suspect.

            If you sat the ABs down in front of videos of Burrell & 12Ts performances from the 6 Nations, which player do you think they would prefer to face?

            Burrell plays 12 for Northampton with Pisi outside of him (hardly dis-similar to Tuilagi) and playing him there seems to have worked out pretty well for Saints

            A combo of Burrell and Tuilagi is going to concern any team in the world

            1. Pisi is vastly different from Tuilagi. Manu has no kicking game where as one of Pisi’s strengths is his grubber kicking. Generally Pisi looks to beat a man on the outside and distribute whereas Manu looks for contact and the offload.

              Not saying one is better than the other but Saints have a very different gameplan from England in that they like a big man at 12 to suck defenses in and then and a subtler runner at 13 to exploit the gaps left by the 12.

              It just so happens that Burrell is a much better distributor than Downey was, which is one of several reasons (along with Alex King) for the improvement in Saints’ back this season.

              I think he’d work really well with Manu though.

    2. We’ve waited even longer to see what Twelvetrees can do with Tuilagi but injury has denied us the chance twice now. The only reason I chose Burrell was possible injury concerns, if Billy is 100% though I think he deserves the nod. Burrell, Twelvetrees or Eastmond, I’d be happy with any centre partnership just as long as Manu is at 13 and Barritt is nowhere to be seen

  8. I controversially went for the 6n centres (12t & Burrell) with Manu and Foden on the wing. Burrell runs such great lines and keeps moves going (or finishes them) and I think he and Manu could work really well together, yet 12t seems to bring the best out of farrell and offers more variety.

    So I thought (and am probably wrong) – but could we just play with 3 centres and 2 fullbacks. England seem to score most of their tries up the middle rather than out wide, and Brown and foden should be able to cover the NZ kicks between them.

    As I said I am sure this wont happen and would be terrible, but would certainly surprise the opposition!

  9. Can we have a vote on bench options as well?

    16. Webber, 17. Waller, 18. Sinckler, 19. Parling, 20. Morgan, 21. Dickson, 22. Cipriani, 23. Foden.

    I’ve gone for Cips over Burns. I know it’s a funny call, but I just think with the form he’s shown over the whole season, and the brief cameo last week, I would rather see him come on against tired legs like last week, and try and pick some holes in the defence.

  10. I controversially went for 6n centres (12t & Burrell) with Manu and Foden on the wings. Burrell just runs such great lines and often keeps the move going with his offloads, and if Manu is given licence to come in, I’m sure Burrell would offer great support for bursts. 12t just seems to get the best out of Farrell, I think they’re a really good partnership, he adds a bit of variety to with his chips.

    But basically England would be playing 3 centres, no wings and 2 fullbacks. Could that work? I mean England seem to score most of their tries up the middle rather than out wide, and between the 2 fullbacks there should be ample cover to field the NZ kicks (heck 1/2penny does it by himself for Wales!).

    Or am I crazy?

    1. I think the point about Twelvetrees and Farrell is a really important one – Farrell has come on leaps and bounds in this regard, but he’s still not the most creative player and I think just knowing that 12T is there as another playmaking options allows him to relax more. I’m not sure that he’d be able to maximise the potential of a Burrell/Tuilagi partnership.

      I also think that we’ve been waiting a long time to see a 12T/Tuilagi partnership – one that we weirdly haven’t seen yet due to injuries. The point has been made about the space Burrell found himself in in the 6N – imagine Tuilagi running similar lines off 12T.

      It’s a real selection dilemma, but certainly a welcome one!

      1. That’s a really interesting point about Burrell running into space during the 6 nations. Most of the plaudits for that have been fixed on Burrell, whereas whilst he played well, it was often Twelvetrees that put him in those gaps.

        I really think that Twelvetrees will definitely start, and I hope he does.

        Bring Care and Farrell back in, with Twelvetrees and Tuilagi in the centre. Back three the same as last week.

        In the pack, I really do not mind who plays if I’m honest. It is all so marginal. I trust to pick the best players dependent on their current fitness levels.

        1. I thought that was an interesting point about 12T putting Burrell into space, but a quick look on Youtube at some of Burrell’s England highlights shows that the passes for most of his breaks came from Care with a couple from Farrell and from him being on the end of offloads.

          Not conclusive evidence obviously but it seems that a lot of his breaks came from hitting good lines at speed as either first receiver from Care or on short passes from Farrell

  11. I think that Care is the main driving force behind England’s improved attack in the 6N. He seemed to have reduced the number of errors in his kicking game too. Defenders watch him closely, which buys the 10 more time.

    36 for me, fluffs as many chances as he creates. The grubber for Burrells try was great, but he gave his pass to May without drawing the man in the Ireland game, which prevented May from scoring.

    He’s not dreadful by any means, but I don’t think he worries defences. England have tried 36 with a big runner in Burrell in the 6N, they tried Eastmond with a big runner in Tuilagi in the first test. Given that NZ seemed to be sticking about 4 players on him each time he got the ball, I think it is worth trying Burrell and Tuilagi together, to see what opens up elsewhere on the field.

  12. It does appear that England do not see Burrell as a 12 in the shape of this team, which is a shame because from the bits I have seen of him at Northampton he does look like he has more to offer with his hands.

    I do reluctantly accept however that the England coaches have seen more of him at close quarters than I !

    So it seems to me that we have a choice of Twelvetrees/Eastmond at 12 and Burrell/Tuilagi at 13.

    I think that the talk of Tuilagi on the wing is a direct reflection of the quality in which Burrell is held within the England camp. Its a tricky balance. I think they’ll go with Tuilagi on the wing, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they retained May on the left.

    So, at 12 I would stick with Eastmond. It is not clear to me what more Twelvetrees offers at 12. I do not believe he has a better distribution game, and certainly he does not offer a greater running threat.

    As an aside, I do think that Eastmond has a problem of being unkindly compared to Jason Robinson. Unkind in the sense that he is perceived as being a similar player, when in fact their running styles are (very) similar but their playing styles are quite different.

    1. I wonder whether Eastmond offers more felxibility than 12t. He would better interchange with Manu as a winger, if Manu came inside to form a partnership with Burrell.

  13. Burrell does track the ball very well, and a lot of his tries come from running great angles at first receiver. Also has a great dummy, and good turn of pace.


    I’m not saying that 12T doesn’t deserve to play, but look at the two players: one has just recovered from injury and hasn’t played for two months, and the other has just won a double , and lost in the final of another competition, who would you pick? You may say 12T can do this and Burrell can’t, but unless they ask Burrell to try, how will they know for sure?

  14. Did no-on watch Steve Myler in the prem. final? He’s not flash but he has vision and consistency in decision-making.
    If Manu is to go on the wing they need Ben F as the other wing for extra defence cover.

    1. I think Myler’s age probably counts against him. Farrell, Cipriani, Myler and now Burns (surprizingly) all have their pros and cons, but investment wise the Faz, Cips and Freddie offer better long term prospects than Myler. Not saying he won’t or shouldn’t be given a chance, but with the availability of caps before the next World cup at a premium, I expect SL to have a more long term view and cap those he thinks it unlikely will make the world cup squad.

  15. Re the bench, if Eastmond isn’t in the starting 15, would like to see him on the bench, May covers full back anyway.

    I also wonder whether Waller and Sinkler have a chance of making the bench. It was noticeable that the England Management were reluctant to take off the front row until quite late – does this bely a lack of faith in the replacements? Further if (as most suspect) Attwood is being preferred to Parling on the bench because of concerns over Thomas, might Sinkler give SL the opportunity to retain Parling in the 23, assuming Lawes and Launchbury are retained?

    1. Don’t think this is outside the realms of possibility. Lancaster doesn’t seem to trust Thomas’ scrummaging (I’ve heard murmurs to that effect from others in the know, too) and as you say, only sends him on with Attwood to shore up the scrum. He also, however, clearly holds Parling in high regard, so if he feels there’s a better scummaging option at tighthead, he may well go for him and Parling.

      Waller is better than Mullan IMO and should be selected on merit anyway.

      1. Agree with Waller. That Saints have barely missed Corbs is telling. I also like the look of Sinkler though. Yes he’s raw, he might cost us a crucial penalty in open play, but if we could have dominated the scrums that led to the try as we had done earlier in the match, who knows – we could have got that all important turnover.

      2. I don’t agree with Parling unless he starts. Unless our line-out is in tatters, he really doesn’t add any impact from the bench

        Attwood does give us weight behind Thomas but he also gives us weight in other areas as well – ball-carrying and defence. He would have far more impact than Parling in this role,

        1. Not convinced by this at all. There appears to be a perception that Parling can run a line out and that’s it.

          He is a deceptively efficient ball carrier, making a lot of tackles and hits a lot of rucks. He was also part of the pack that scrumming very well last week.

          For me, whilst Attwood is a very good player, Parling, Lawes and Launchbury are all a class above him.

          Out of those three, I wouldn’t mind who started to be honest, but all three should be in the squad.

          To add more weight to Parlings inclusion, he is a huge leader in the England dressing room, which can be really important at the end of test matches, particularly those that are tight, as I expect the second test to be.

          1. I voted for Parling. As I said after the game, he’d start every week in my team. Much more consistent than Lawes, carries, leads and every time he’s in the 2nd row the front row seem to kill their opposition.

            1. Brighty have you seen Lawes more recently than the 6n. I think he is one of England’s most improved players and is so much more than the big hits. His legal disrupting of the rolling maul (three times) in the AP final was phenomenal – absolutely kept Saints in the match

              1. I’ve seen him play – I think he is a good player but I prefer Parling. Cool under pressure (still suspect the temperament of Lawes), excellent lineout, a driver in the scrum.

                1. I think it may depend who’s starting at hooker as well. If Hartley is starting I would expect Lawes to be starting as well. It just makes line out time easier to organise when your hooker and line out caller work together for club and country.

                2. @ Dazza – for some reason there is not reply button next to your comment, not sure where this will appear!

                  I’m not sure who is at hooker is relevant at all to be honest. I know people speak about club combinations quite a lot, but not for one second do I think it comes into SLs mind.

                  He is created an excellent atmosphere, and club feel, within the England camp during his time in charge, so honestly think he views them all as England players, not only when they are within the camp but at all times.

                  You can see this in the attitude he wants the players to show on and off the pitch.

            2. I too voted for Launchbury and Parling. But as I’ve said – would not mind seeing any two of the three starting, as long as all three are in the squad. They are head and shoulders above our other locks IMO.

        2. Pablito I am mostly in agreement with you (though last weeks performance was above what I expected of Parling), my point was that I think SL disagrees with this view (i.e. Parling is a starter or nothing) and would pick Parling ahead of Attwood if there were no concerns over Thomas. Maybe I’m wrong in thinking that though

        3. Pablito, don’t forget that Parling came on as sub for AWJ in the first Lions test last year and did make an impact. Granted, he replaced an injured O’Connell for the second test but I do recall people being surprised back then at the impact he made.

          This was ahead of the heavier Gray and Welsh guy (Evans?).

          I think that he suffers a little from a perception of being lightweight.

  16. Attwood does far more than just shore up the scrum though. His size is very useful as another carrier, and he’s devastating against mauls. He’s a lineout caller, and if Webber is the bench option, it would make a lot of sense having Attwood for this reason too.

    1. Agree that Attwood should be on the bench. Parling is a great player, good motor, makes his tackles, lineout guru, but all of those attributes are worthwhile having throughout a game, not as a substitute.

      Not to say a substitute shouldn’t have those attributes, but you want someone more physical in the latter stages of the game, and Parling doesn’t really provide an “impact”.

    1. Worcester full back, so I’m assuming the votes came from Worcester fans. He impressed consistently in a very unimpressive team this season. Although with available caps at a premium I questioned the logic of giving him a solitary cap last week, when he’s committed to playing in the 2nd division with worcestor next season and therefore unlikley to make the world cup squad.

      1. To be fair to SL on including him last week – I did see him say that Watson was injured (only a niggle), and that is why he wasn’t considered. So really Pennell was the only option last week for back three cover.

    2. The same people who think Catt and Waller are better than Marler at loosehead, and that Kvesic should be one of the two flankers!

      He is the Worcester FB, and one of the players of the season. He came on last week – although I must admit that I didn’t notice.

  17. Went for Eastmond and Webber to retain places and really wanted to put Haskell down too. I think Eastmond has the distribution to rival 36 and does have a kicking game too. For me his positives far outweigh negatives and he will offer more threat in midfield.

  18. I’d like to change my mind at 12. Although Twelvetrees/Tuilagi is something that we’ve wanted to see for a while, his lack of game time and Eastmond’s performance have shifted my opinion. His defense held up brilliantly and the gap he went through was one that even Fofana would struggle to get through cleanly.
    The more I contemplate it, the more I find myself thinking “Why fix what ain’t broke?” I think the current 4 candidates at centre are head and shoulders above the rest (although I hope Daly will close the gap soon). Twelvetrees/Burrell was promising in the 6N and thus got a good run of games, Eastmond/Tuilagi deserve the same opportunity.
    I also think it makes sense to pair the four players in the way that we have: a rapier and a sledgehammer in one partnership, our two best all rounders in the other.
    I’m sure that injuries will provide us with the chance to test other combinations sometime in the future anyway.

    1. I agree Tom. Lancaster usually gives players a run of games if they’re not horrendous. In my opinion we haven’t seen a new centre partnership make such a settled,positive impact for England for a number of years. The only reason we’re having this debate is because we’re spoiled for choice

  19. I know I’m woefully behind the debate, but I voted for eastmond. Not many tear nonu and Smith to pieces on their debut. He has a bigger range of skills than Burrell. Plus I think Lancaster prefers a kicking option at 12 too. I’ve not seen Burrell acting as a wide distributor often. He brings people into the game similarly to robshaw utilizing short or medium passes. Two boshers won’t work because neither Burrell or tuilagi possess the skills of a Jon Davies and he is a vital cog in the Wales machine. Would keep parling but lawes is world class and impossible to ignore. The permutations for the squad keep getting bigger and better with all this competition for places. It’s such a wonderful place to be…

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