RBS 6 Nations 2011: England team to face Ireland

Martin Johnson has named the following side to take on Ireland in search of the Six Nations Grand Slam this Saturday.

Matt Banahan comes in for the injured Mike Tindall, with Nick Easter taking over the captaincy and Dave Strettle promoted to the bench.

Can this side bring home the bacon?

Ben Foden
Chris Ashton
Matt Banahan
Shontayne Hape
Mark Cueto
Toby Flood
Ben Youngs

Alex Corbisiero
Dylan Hartley
Dan Cole
Louis Deacon
Tom Palmer
Tom Wood
James Haskell
Nick Easter (capt)

S Thompson, P Doran-Jones, S Shaw, T Croft, D Care, J Wilkinson, D Strettle

20 thoughts on “RBS 6 Nations 2011: England team to face Ireland

  1. I’m quite surprised to see Strettle in the squad to be honest. He’s still a bit too lightweight for me, and whereas Foden has looked strong in the tackle, Strets has a tendency to get thrown around like a rag doll!

    If he comes on and England can put him into space, he could be dangerous, but creating space hasn’t been England’s forte in the last couple of games.

    Not sure what happens if Banners or Hape are injured. We might see Flood and Wilko on at the same time?

  2. Strettle is not a tackler and his finishing isnt great at International level – ironically bar the excellent try he scored in Ireland in 2007!

    Still, he can make some great breaks if given some space and I’d rather see him than Flutey.

    Sinbad must be cursing his luck!!

  3. I would use Bannahan at 12 for the crash-bash factor and Hape would get some ball with a few gaps and space and then his speed would be better used. I don’t see what Thompson and Shaw bring to the game from the bench? They are/were great players, but when you make changes you want impact and I don’t think they bring that. No Courtney Lawes? I know the Locks have been working well, but he definitely would bring impact and speed, even if just from the bench.

  4. I can’t see this team losing against Ireland. It seems even stronger with Banahan instead of Tindall. Shame about Hape (I still don’t rate him). Although the bench is a stabilising bench. If England are in the lead they can come on and control the game and finish off. But if by some miracle the Irish are in the lead at 60 minutes I can’t see this bench getting England back in the game.

    Just an opinion of course.

  5. Can’t understand Strettle in there, not convinced in his ability. Sinbad must be pushing towards that and Manu is surely close. They’re not strictly wingers I guess but Strettle’s defense is dire.

  6. Sinbad is injured again unforunately as he would have fitted in perfectly. But what makes strettle better than Manu????

  7. We know our pack can compete with the best, lets hope they do.

    Im interested to see what Banners bring to the party.if BOD is on form, will be a very tough day at the office for him!

    Ive decided that Hape is underrated.Will Greenwood was talking about him saying that his tackle count and defensive work is huge.

    Everyone says hape’s passing isnt great, but under extreme pressure, watch his 30 metre pass to Cueto in the build up to the Croft try. it is absolutely inch perfect cueto running on perfectly to exploit the overlap.

    No everyone will say “hes a centre, he should be able to do that”. well heres proof that he can and along side his watertight defence (jon davies try aside) theres more in his locker than people give him credit for.

  8. I completely agree with jimmymc1 – Hape is underrated, but I do think his position is wrong – he should be at 13. His tackle count/defensive work is huge, but in attack he needs that little bit more room for his speed and footwork to come into play and then watch for the off-loads to Ashton and a lot more people being annoyed by his swan-dives!

  9. I think it’s a question of Hape not yet fulfilling his potential – he does have a good step, handoff and offload, and he’s obviously great in defence, but he hasn’t shown every facet to his game. I think he’s rated fairly for his England performances to date!

    Real shame for Sinbad as I suspect he would have got the nod for this has he not been injured again (I think I’ve typed that sentence before).

    Interested to see how Banners gets on. I can’t quite make up my mind about him, so hopefully he’ll have a MoM performance.

  10. Herbie – Only problem with that is that I don’t think he’s quick enough for an international 13, plus he can only really step well off one foot. At 12 his straight running and ability to offload can be utilised best.

    I think he’s been good though, his work rate has been huge – esp in that last game agaisnt Scotland.

    I’m a Banahan convert, so I’m looking forward to see him up against O’Driscoll on Saturday. Complete contrast in styles!

  11. No real surprises. Wasn’t expecting to see Strettle in there, wouldn’t be overly surprised if he doesn’t get on.

    Re Hape, the hot topic of this 6 Nations (swallow dives and mad Frenchmen aside), there is no doubt he is solid, particularly in defence. But until he makes a linebreak, I will not be convinced he is the man. He made half a one against Italy for an Ashton try but I think Hutch could have made that. We have no cutting edge in the centres. Also his decision-making is not always the best ball in hand, he often ships it on without committing someone and sometimes takes too long on the ball.

    Banahan could be very interesting. For most of his career I have thought he is a truly terrible rugby player who happens to be enormous. He has kicked on this season though in a big way, have even seen a few offloads from him, although not always at the right time. He may add a bit of cutting adge to the midfield and if he does then we could be on to something. Hope he doesn’t get exposed in defence though, 13 is a very difficult place to defend with lots of decision making involved and he is still pretty new to the position. We may miss Tindall in terms of the shape he gives the team but I think we have more cutting edge with Banahan.

  12. Hape is surely an outright 12. Straight hard runner with offload game, like a not o good version of Jauzion. I think his footwork and pace are what he lacks tbh.

    Can’t believe Lawes isn’t on the bench for impact.

    Also surely the bench needed a centre more than a wing. Dunno if Manu is the best option but he surely bring more in terms of covering more positions than Strettle.

  13. Ive got to say the more i think about it the more i think we need to get Tuilagi in. I thought maybe it was just me so i went to look at the statistics. The stats are with me.

    1 Manu Tuilagi Leicester 14 7
    9 Manu Tuilagi Leicester 14 663
    Defenders beaten:
    2 Manu Tuilagi Leicester 14 27
    Clean breaks:
    3 Manu Tuilagi Leicester 14 13

    And so i have concluded that if we Had him on the team we would have that extra cutting edge in the centre that we have been lacking.

  14. will – you are preaching to the converted re Tuilagi, its a question of when, not if he plays for england. i think the RWC could be too early, im not sure.

  15. I wonder if MJ will be looking @ Mat Stevens?

    Do any of the rugby blog lads know if his previous will count against him in MJs eyes?

    he took Castro apart the other day, after only 2 competitve matches!

  16. I think Stevens will be in the mix for the World Cup. By all accounts he’s spent two years training hard, and is very keen to make amends. If he plays to his potential, Johnno has to forgive him, surely?!

  17. I read / heard somewhere that Johnno’s opinion was that Stevens has done his time, so that’s the end of the matter. A few more games, return to match fitness; if he gets back to the levels he was at previously then he’ll definitely be in the mix come September.

    I don’t think Tuilagi is ready for a full international game yet but he and England would benefit in the long term if he could get 15mins each international to get used to the pace. Is he still training with the squad? I would at least have him training each week to blood him into the environment and get the coaches working with him now.

  18. Must disagree on the selection of Hape, I don’t rate him at all. He gave a forward pass during an incisive break against Wales last week, as well as knocking on in the ruck area twice and being turned over at least once. I know Manu is a risk but sureley Tindall at 12 and him at 13 could give us a good balance of shape and defensive stability, aswell as a bit of a cutting edge and excitement. In all fairness the backs were far from exciting in Cardiff last week weren’t they? Hape has to go and in all honesty I am amazed he has had as many caps as he has! He has never looked good in an england shirt.

    1. And I do agree that Matt Stevens has served his time and should definately go to the world cup. He looks like his fitness is getting there, he looks sharp and as strong as ten men! Not many props dick Castro do they!?

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