Potential England Squad changes for Six Nations 2014


England have plenty of injuries and absent players to contend with, so we’ve taken a look at who might replace them when the 2014 Six Nations squad is announced tomorrow.

Injured: Alex Corbisiero
Likely squad replacement: Matt Mullan
Bolter: Alex Waller

Despite Paul Doran-Jones’ presence in the Saxons squad, Matt Mullan was the man to step up in the Autumn when an injury crisis at loosehead occurred. He is likely to do so again, although Alex Waller, has been deputising for Corbisiero at the Saints in a very accomplished manner and could be in the mix. Stranger things have happened.

Injured: Tom Croft
Likely squad replacement: Tom Johnson
Bolter: Luke Wallace

England’s back-row is fairly settled, so any changes here will likely only be for squad purposes. With that in mind, would it be more beneficial to give a young gun like Luke Wallace a bit of experience of the England environment? He has been wearing six for Quins this season, but operates more as a seven, and with the squad already well-stocked at blindside, there are worse options to consider. More likely, however, would be the promotion of Johnson, Haskell or Clark from the Saxons, with the Exeter-man leading the way in terms of form and experience.

Injured: Geoff Parling
Likely squad replacement: Graham Kitchener
Bolter: George Kruis

Parling’s Leicester teammate Kitchener has been in exemplary form in recent months, and should gain a place in the squad for the Six Nations – his main rival will probably be club-mate Ed Slater. No-one seems to mention George Kruis in these discussions, however, and the Saracens man was included in the Saxons at the beginning of the season along with the two Leicester boys. Despite fierce competition for places at Sarries, the young lock/flanker has impressed and could find himself in with a chance.

Off to France: Toby Flood
Likely squad replacement: George Ford
Bolter: Danny Cipriani

This has been done to death in column inches recently, but Bath’s George Ford looks set to replace Toby Flood as Lancaster ruthlessly culls the Leicester man after his decision to move to France next season. Danny Cipriani would be a left-field shout after some improved performances this season, but it is believed Lancaster still has doubts about his defence.

Injured: Ben Foden
Likely squad replacement: Anthony Watson
Bolter: Mat Tait

Watson could almost consider himself a bolter, given his meteoric rise this season. It is a mark of how well he is playing that he is now the expected replacement, rather than the left-field choice, however. Mat Tait would represent a more risky option, given his injury troubles, but he was playing devastatingly well at the back end of last season, and has impressed since returning from yet another injury recently.

Injured: Manu Tuilagi
Likely squad replacement: Luther Burrell
Bolter: Elliot Daly

The hole left in the midfield by Tuilagi is humungous, but Burrell, his expected replacement, is no shrinking violet. While he doesn’t quite have the explosive power of the Leicester man, he has better distribution skills. Elliot Daly is surely in contention, but has again been playing more of his rugby at fullback this season. He would offer something completely different, however, and the thought of him playing outside Twelvetrees is a tantalising prospect. If Lancaster truly is on the hunt for ‘X Factor’ players, as he claims, Daly must surely be included at some stage soon.

Injured: Christian Wade
Likely squad replacement: Jonny May
Bolter: Jamie Elliot

Jonny May has had an up-and-down season, but certainly has not benefitted from playing behind a pack going consistently backwards. Lancaster knows what he is capable of, however, and should see past his indifferent form. Jamie Elliot has been flying somewhat under the radar at the Saints, but has an excellent try-scoring record. He is a tenacious player, but whether he is international quality is not yet certain, and so he is more likely to be in the Saxons.

Injured: Marland Yarde
Likely squad replacement: Jack Nowell
Bolter: Charlie Walker

Nowell’s stellar showings in the big games this season will hopefully see Lancaster make a leap of faith and include him over Strettle who, despite some good try-scoring form in the Premiership, is not the long term answer for England. The England head coach has been keeping in close contact with Rob Baxter, who will surely have been singing his young charge’s praises. Charlie Walker was making huge strides before last weekend, but after his horror-tackle on North on Friday, he might not quite be ready. Saxons recognition could be forthcoming, though.

What do you think? Who would you like to see in England’s 35 man squad for the 2014 Six Nations?

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

20 thoughts on “Potential England Squad changes for Six Nations 2014

  1. I would agree with most of them.

    I think Thomas will get called up to replace Corbs in my opinion. There are 5 props and our 5 best props happen to be 3 LHs and 2 THs. Therefore replacing a LH with another LH is not essential, especially as Wilson, at a push, can cover LH in an emergency. Although Thomas doesn’t start for Sale, he is highly regarded by Rowntree I hear and is in the same mould as Vunipola, so I expect to see him in the squad after covering for injuries in the AIs.

    Agree with Johnson, Kitchener, Ford, Watson and May.

    I would however replace Yarde with Burrell, as with Brown, Goode, Watson, May and Ashton, we have plenty of back three options there. I would then replace Tuilagi with Joseph, as despite a slow start to the season, he has been superb for Bath over the past 3 weeks. Also, if Burrell replaces Manu, then there are 4 12s plus Farrell who is comfortable at 12, and no one who plays 13 regularly. I would be very shocked if Joseph or Trinder aren’t in the squad.

  2. Agree, and would be happy, with the likely replacements.

    Aside from changes enforced by injury or policy does anyone think there will be many elective changes?

    A definite change I would want to see:
    Goode -> Daly (I like the pure pace and the ability to take shots at goal ~10m further out than Farrell makes him an interesting option)

    A couple worth debating:
    Morgan -> Ewers (I like Ewers work rate and power, Morgan did go OK in the Autumn though, so wouldn’t be upset to see him retained)
    Kvesic -> Wallace (Think Wallace should be included on form, harsh on Kvesic struggling behind a soft tight 5 unit, but I struggle to come up with a reason why Kvesic should be picked over Wallace)

    A couple I don’t think deserve to retain their place, but I’m struggling to find compelling alternatives given injuries:
    Tomkins -> Trinder? Not sure Joseph has done enough yet to get another shot?
    Ashton -> Benjamin? Elliott? Although it doesn’t seem logical to replace a player with one who has an inferior domestic strike rate England sadly can’t create opportunities that Ashton can finish and Ashton rarely beats people one-on-one.

  3. Interestingly, Chris Foy tweeted earlier that England had been ‘adventurous’ in their selections (he always seems to have an inside line to someone within the camp). So I wonder how many of these we’ll actually see? Of the more ‘adventurous’ options, I’d expect to see Nowell definitely in there, and maybe Daly too. Also been rumoured that Eastmond is going to be dropped for Burrell, which means there’s space for another centre (perhaps Daly).

    1. I would love to see Daly in there – but it just doesn’t fit with SL and what he has done so far. I hope Chris Foy is right and there are some adventurous picks though.

      A back line with Daly, Watson and Nowell in can’t be as boring as what we currently have surely!?

      1. Read a while back that Daly was included as the 24th man in the New Zealand match so he is perhaps closer to being picked than we thought, and a good shout for an ‘adventurous’ option… Mind you i think he should be starting at 13, so maybe its just some wishful thinking on my behalf.

        Think the majority of the other changes will be fairly predictable but just 1 or 2 exciting choices will be enough to keep me happy! Would like to see Wallace in- genuine pace at no.7 offers a bit of variety in the back row, especially with our other quick back rower croft out, good to see him maybe get a cap or two off the bench?

  4. I have to agree with all your predictions, although I too hope a young back rower is called up instead of Johnson (and I’m an Exeter supporter).
    But what about an injury replacement for Tomkins? He’s currently in the senior EPS and is still injured right? I expect it to be Trinder or Joseph.

    1. Tomkins was named in the Saxons squad at the beginning of the season, and was brought into main squad as injury cover for Tuilagi in AIs I believe. So there’ll be a replacement for him in the Saxons I think.

      1. Yeah you’re right – I was going by the squad page on the RFU website where Tomkins is named in the Elite squad – but there are 34 players named, not 33 so he must still officially be in the Saxons.

  5. I don’t know how reliable a source this is, but I was on patient.co.uk which i use for my medical revision and it was congratulating one of its sponsored atheletes on being selected for the 6 nations. a certain george ford.

  6. Alex Waller for definite contrast from powerhouse showboating of Vunipola giving a little bit of grunt against Welsh, French and Italian packs

    Second row has to be Christian Day sensational form great technician and tackle merchant but can he make the jump?

    Openside gotta be Wallace while Frasiers injured but Sam Jones needs to be given a look at saxons level

    Fly half hard one as a die hard Cippers supporter but also a bath fan either one has my confidence but i feel Fordy suits the current crop of centres(baring injurys) better in terms of style but i would love to see Cipriani and Tuilagi play together i think that would be poetry in motion!

    Centre for me the inclusion of Hopper and Burrell would be a move in a positive direction both have skills and a great level of desire

    Wings Nowell & Watson ooze class and raw potential

    Fullback Daly a point of difference to Brown and Goode provides raw pace and finishing prowess that either two dont possess also off the tee BOOOM! could be an English Francois Steyn with the boot.

    i would love it if lancaster leaned more towards attacking ability over stability i think as a nation we’ve always had great threatening players and this is has always been seen at under 20’s level where England win pretty much everything but we get negative in more senior national sides and have less players with heads up rugby brains and the celtic sides tend to thrive a bit more at senior level after years of being dominated has to be change in national ethos

  7. Lots of options at Centre – and continually debated on here – but Matt Hopper is not a bad name to throw into the debate. He is having a cracking season.

  8. I see a few commetns on here, people asking for May, Nowell and Watson in the matchday squad. But does anyone really believe SL is going to have a back line of May, Twelvetrees, Burrell, Nowell and Brown or Watson. That would possibly be the least experienced back line England will ever have picked. I also don’t think SL will drop Ashton form the starting 15. Will Barritt get straight back in the squad despite only playing one game? Probably, and he might even start alongside Twelvetrees in the back line.

    Personally I would like to see this back line: 10. Ford, 11. Elliott, 12. Burrell, 13. Daly, 14 Nowell, 15. Brown or Watson. But I have absolutely no doubt I have now fallen asleep and am just dreaming!!! zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    1. Would you really want that back line to line up? That’s crazy/

      Firstly, I see nothing that suggests Ford is playing better than Farrell, and he has done nothing wrong so should definitely play.

      I’m not a fan at all of all this chopping and changing based on domestic form. For me, Youngs/farrell/12Ts need as much game time as possible together going into 2015. Every game, if they are fit, they play, They are the axis to lead us into the world cup and it helps no one if we chop and change from week to week. The reality is that Tuilagi and Brown are also automatic picks when fit, so it is only the wings up for debate, plus finding adequate cover at 13.

      1. I am beginning to question why everyone thinks 12Ts should be an automatic pick. Not really seeing it at the moment.

        He’s hardly set the world on fire in his international appearances and for a big lad, he doesn’t really play like one. It seems to me he’s living off the back of that one decent perfomance against the Scots

        From the premiership games I’ve seen, I’d prefer Burrell at inside centre – he’s a big unit and plays like one but is not without speed and his distribution is under-rated.

        That said, I cannot imagine 12Ts being ousted in the foreseeable future

        1. Burrell edges carrying but all other attributes 12Ts is considerably stronger. He has much better distribution and a very strong kicking game. Defense there isn’t much in it, both ok.

          The reality is that we need to pick one and stick with them because neither has enough experience at the moment. Both are good options and we may well see them playing together in the 6Ns.

          I certainly prefer 12Ts, particularly as a partner for Tuilagi and Farrell, which is essentially what we are picking in our 12.

        2. I suspect the other option SL might go for is to play Burrell at 12 and stick Barritt or Twelvetrees at 13? Barritt is the preferred defensive centre and I’m not sure Twelvetrees has played much at 13 (although I’m sure he’d be capable). Burrell has pretty good hands and pace. He can bust through holes and offload well, and this season he’s added a bit of a kicking game, which I’m sure is mainly thanks to Alex King. Could be very interesting come that first game?!

      2. I was being a little tongue in cheek really. Realistically the back line I want to see for the Six Nations (with who’s available) would be: 9. Youngs 10. Farrell, 11. Elliott, 12. Twelvetrees, 13. Burrell, 14. Ashton, 15. Brown, with Ford to cover 10 and Nowell or Watson on the bench to cover wing and full back.

        You’re right about Ford and Farrell. Both very different players, but Farrell has to start. He can get the back line moving if England want to play that way. He’s proved it this season at Sarries. They are the leading try scorers in the Premiership, and he has got the backs moving to score those tries out wide. For this reason I think Strettle will probably be given another shot in the 11 shirt as well. But Ford offers something similar to Burns, but at the moment he is the form fly half. On the bench in the 6N is the perfect place for him to take his chance at the top table.

        1. Completely agree with everything other than Elliot there, I just can’t see it. Yes he has been playing quite well but I’d be surprised if he was above Nowell and Watson in the pecking order, plus probably May and Strettle.

          I also would go Barritt at 13 but would not mind giving Burrell a chance either.

          1. I think that both Nowell and Watson usually play on Ashton’s wing, and I wouldn’t want to play two uncapped wingers in the same game. And I personally think that Elliott’s form puts him ahead of May. Also I’m a little unsure of May in defence. Both May and Sharples seem to lack the defensive qualities for international wingers…………yes even worse than Ashton!!

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