RBS 6 Nations 2011: England team to play Italy

Martin Johnson has named the England side for their first home match of the 2011 RBS Six Nations this weekend.

The only change sees Hendre Fourie replacing Joe Worsley on the replacements bench.

Nick Heath was at Pennyhill Park for us to hear Johnno discuss the upcoming match.


Here is the England team to face Italy at Twickenham on Saturday. Is this the team you would have picked?

1. Sheridan
2. Hartley
3. Cole
4. Deacon
5. Palmer
6. Haskell
7. Wood
8. Easter

9. Youngs
10. Flood
11. Cueto
12. Hape
13. Tindall (c)
14. Ashton
15. Foden

Thompson, Wilson, Shaw, Fourie, Care, Wilkinson, Banahan.

25 thoughts on “RBS 6 Nations 2011: England team to play Italy

  1. It’s good to have a settled, stable team, so glad that it hasn’t changed.

    I must admit though, that I cannot see what Hape brings to the squad. I would want him to be more obvious in the game.

  2. Will – Tuilagi needs to massively improve his defence before he’s ready for international level, he’s a bit of a liability at the moment. Young Nevin Spence of Ireland (who was in the Ireland U20s at the same time as Tuilagi) gave him a bit of a torrid time in the Saxons loss against the Wolfhounds last week.

    Rather than being Tuilagi, the most in-form young English OC is currently George Lowe in my opinion.

  3. However it is not his tackling ability that is the problem but his experience and game reading. You can be gifted with game reading or u can earn it and we all know the only way to get experience is to well…play

  4. Too early to Tuilagi.

    i agree Tom, i like George Lowe. hes not massive but is very powerful pound for pound, like Josh Lewsey was. also got great feet.

    he can also pass, which mike tindal cant.

  5. Will – Yeh I agree with you, but international rugby isn’t the best place to be learning these lessons. Instead he should be given time to get more Premiership experience and combine that with matches for the Saxons. I’m convinced he will play for England, but not just yet.

    Jimmymc – Agree, there’s probably a number of things Lowe can do that Tindall can’t!

  6. sorry was just being “amusing”

    Im a Lowe fan however, artistic abilities aside.

    Not sure J Clarke is quick enough for 13?

  7. well he is certainly quick enough to beat Armitage who isnt slow. As he showed against London Irish for Northampton. And any improvement on a almost standstill is good

  8. Don’t really have too much of an issue with Tindall. We’ve known his skill level is not what it could be for years, nothing new there. He provides the team with shape and is a key decision-maker. Ideally we’d have someone better but think you’d find we’d notice his absence.

    Hape is more of an issue for me. Thought he was very average last week, shipping the ball on when he needed to fix a man, flying out of the line and haven’t really seen him break a tackle. His step is like Flutey’s but in slow motion. He hasn’t really done anything for England all season (despite the rather farcical award of MoM to him in one of the autumn games). One of our centres at least has to be capable of a linebreak but neither are at present.

    Still, nice to only be debating one position rather than the whole team like we have been in recent years.

  9. Hit the nail on the head there Will, anyone would be an improvement on Tindall. The French will skin him next week

  10. If there’s one area of Tinds game that is good it’s his defence, I don’t think the French will skin him at all and I agree with Stuart on him and Hape.

    But lets face it since the days of Guscott centres have never been our strong point in terms of attacking flare. We have some good talent coming through and as long as Flutes in back in form by the World cup I’d be fairly happy with our centres and excited about the future.

  11. Ben – His defence is looking shakier by the match, he’s not quick enough on the drift against the quicker backs. At least once (this is from memory..) he shot up out of the line and missed his man, admittedly it was Shane Williams, who is one of the most elusive guys in world rugby, but I’m worried the same might happen against the French. He ended up with the most missed tackles in the England team against the Welsh.

    Who knows, maybe he’ll play a blinder though – he does seem to have a habit of playing well when the knives are just being sharpened!

  12. What’s the point in sticking with Haskell? He had a poor game, subbed in the 62nd minute, and this in the context of a recent history of similar performances. Even with Croft and Moody out, we do have better options out there. Puzzled as to why Johnno feels such loyalty to him – it’s not like he fits his normal weakness for players that are slow but dependable grinders. He’s just inept at this level.

  13. historically I havent been a haskell fan , i know hes got the brawn, but never felt he has a rugby brain a la richard hill, greenwood.

    I watched the game again last night , sober, and i thought he did ok. no one ran through him, he put some decent hits in and he ran a lot of balls at the welsh and crucially, got over the gain line without being turned over.

    the key i think in modern rugby is that you wont always have quick ball because defenses are so good, so you positively need players who can generate power and get over the gain line.

    When we played South Africa, we lacked some grunt in our back row and they bullied us as a result. the back row we had was Moody, croft, Easter which was a touch light.

    Haskell instead of moody adds some extra power and at nearly 18 stone, he does run through brick walls!

  14. i very much agree with Stuart the tindall front. I certanly don’t hink the French will skin him because his speciality is tackeling th player as soon as they get the ball so the player doesn’t have time to pick uo speed. I think if we were too drop him we would miss chances due to key decisions not being made (especialy if we put someone like Tuilagi in there insted).

  15. JimmyMc – Agree with you there again. I reckon Haskell had his best game for England for a long time against Wales.

  16. Tom, I never thought I’d find myself saying that about haskell, but perhaps the time @ stade has eroded the ‘look @ me’ attitude and implanted some grit.

    Annoyingly, easter does a similar job and in the heavy traffic of world rugby, he has a nack of a) staying on his feet and making some yards and b) tacking some good restarts.

    Just wait till we have a back row of wood, croft and narraway……… With haskell and robson there or there abouts…..

  17. I would love to see a back row of Wood and croft as they are probably more mobile than are centres and are both fantastic players. From what ive heard i could say the same about Narraway but have never seen him play.

  18. Will – Wood and Croft are exceptional athletes, we are lucky to have them!

    I am a big fan of Narraway and remember he was first choice number 8 in 2008 when easter, corry, worsel were injured and he played well aged only 24!

    The issue with a back row including them and someone like Narrway is that it might be a tad light, albeit Narraway is 17 stone!

    I am really excited by England post world cup, we will have a monster pack inlcuded Cole, Wilson, Lawes, Attwood, Woods, croft, Narraway etc remember that most of these guys are mid 20’s and added to that Youngs, flood etc are early 20’s!

    good team going forward!

  19. A back row of Wood, Croft and Narraway is too loose for my liking. Wood would have to do a hell of a lot of close quarter carrying because Croft and Narraway tend to play a bit wider. If we’ve got good ball-carriers in the second row then fine but if Attwood is the future in the second row then we may need someone more in the Haskell or Easter mould in the back row. I think Haskell may well end up at 8, but probably only if his club start playing there.

    I’ve always been a Haskell sceptic but have a watch for how often England get quick ball straight from one of his carries. Easter may make yards and carry people with him but because it’s at a slower pace the defence can get into position to regroup and our ball tends to be slower. With the game we are trying to play that’s quite a key consideration. You’d almost rather have someone who bursts 2 yards over the gain line and produces quick ball than someone who rumbles 5 yards over the gain line and produces slow ball.

    Will be interesting to see what they do when Croft and Moody come back because another couple of perormances like last week from Wood and he could be very hard to leave out. Croft into the row? Preferably not but it’s an option.

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