Select England’s Rugby World Cup Team

Now that Martin Johnson has named his preliminary Rugby World Cup squad, we’ve all been thinking about the likely starting XV.

Tom Wood

Of course, the starting side that we’d like to see, and that which will actually take to the field are likely to be very different if Johnno’s track record is anything to go by, but it’s fun to speculate anyway.

Take the series of polls for each position below, and we’ll see how the team takes shape. Remember to think of tighthead and loosehead props, inside and outside centres and the balance of the back row!

Props (select two)

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Second Rows (select two)

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Back row (select three)

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Centres (select two)

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Wings (select two)

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Let us know what you think, and we’ll do similar articles for the other home nations.

24 thoughts on “Select England’s Rugby World Cup Team

  1. Still MASSIVE question marks over the centres. I realise that Tuilagi is probably the best player but personally I think it’s a joke that he’s eligible…I guess that’s not MJ’s business to decide who qualifies or not. Still seems wrong though.

    If Tindall is our next best then we’re in trouble. Happy with the rest of the team though.

    I have a feeling that Lewis Moody may not even make the team because I think Easter, Croft and Haskell are the top three. Nice problem to have.

    1. It is a nice problem in the back row – especially with players like Wood, Robshaw and Fourie in the mix

      Personally I feel that Moody is past his sell by date. For a while now he’s offered nothing much beyond insane levels of commitment.

      I’d rather see Robshaw on the blindside rather than Haskell. For me he is a significantly better player.

      Also agree with Wood over Croft. Croft is great but he’s not a ball winner and that’s something we will badly need against the top sides

      But how about Wood, Easter and Croft?

  2. I saw that more than one person voted for Tim Payne to start at prop. Some people are obviously not taking this pole seriously! Ha

    Big calls for me are that I think we need Flutey to rediscover some for as it would give us a genuine second distributor to take the pressure off Flood; also think we should be starting Tom Wood at 6 ahead of Croft. Croft is a fantastic player, but I think against the big sides we need to prize breakdown ability over open field ability. Would bring Croft off the bench with 15 mins to go.

    I also would rather see Alex Corbisiero start ahead of Sheridan. Proved he is solid in the scrum and offers far more than Sheridan ever has in the loose and in defence.

  3. What’s good to see is that the general consensus is roughly inline with the team that played the 6N. That means we’re a long way down the line to an established team, and that we generally agree with the selection – very different from the beginning on Johnson’s tenure and that under the previous Robinson & Ashton regimes.

    Centre is still the glaring problem. RS, Flutey does indeed need to rediscover his 2009 form to give us some hope and options in the midfield. The back row is looking incredibly competitive though and there are some good impact players throughout the forwards especially who would be able to come off the bench and contribute to the game in a positive way.

  4. I love Corbs probably more than anyone, but Ted’s power is needed. Corbs would make a great sub because he can play on both sides.

    I went for Hape and Tuilagi in the centre. Not sure why.

    1. I went for Hape and Tuilagi in the centre. Not sure why.

      That’s the sort of selection rationale that the management team use.

  5. you’re right justin it is good to see the consistency.

    as has been pointed out centre is the only real problem, all other selection headaches (eg back row) are because of too many options.

    I went for care over youngs because of the swing in form post 6 nations. Anyone else a little bit worried about that with Flood also? I think Care is in the form of his life but i do prefer youngs…

    Would like to see Sinbad take the shirt from Cueto as well, dunno if i can see it happening mind.

  6. i would like to see Tuilagi start. not bothered where just because he is such a game changer.
    he has broken tried and tested defences, most notably O’Driscoll and Darcy.
    I picked simpson cos hes brilliant :)
    and i would like to see Sharples take the shirt from Cueto

  7. Ben – i went for Flutey and Tuilagi and don’t know why either! I just couldn’t see a combination there that worked. Let be honest though, unless he gets injured Johnno will pick Tindall. It doesn’t matter how many times he passes the ball directly into touch.

  8. Is it just me that thinks that we are looking very thin on the ground at 15? Armitage is out of form and if Foden gets injured we have real concerns!

  9. Would agree with that Ben.

    Cueto (and Strettle I think) can play full-back although I’d rather they didn’t

    Don’t complain though, if this selection is anything to go by, they’ll be calling Balshaw up

  10. We are all looking on the dark side.
    We know if Johnson plays the right side we are a world class team.
    so lets think about it that way rather than all doom and gloom ay?

  11. Back row and centres were the toughest choices for me. In the end I opted for Croft, Wood and Easter and then Flutey & Tindall in the centres.

    I’d like a back three of Cueto, Ashton & Foden but voted for Sharples ahead of Cueto to show my support for him.

  12. I might be the only one that thinks this, but i reckon Cueto would make a cracking 13. I know he doesn’t have the experience of playing there, but neither did Ashley-Cooper before they moved him from wing to centre – and look how good he is (very similiar players). It’d also mean we could play the likes of JSD or Sharples on the wing. Personally, I’d also move Tindall back to his original position of 12. Thoughts?

  13. Tommy – I’ve often thought the same about Cueto – it seems a natural move to me as he has lost some of his speed

    He’s strong, good at keeping on his feet, is strong in defense and can kick. Think England may be missing a trick by not trying this out

    I agree with you on Tindall as well. At 12 he’d provide a crash ball threat. Then 13 could be freed up for someone with speed and good hands to take advantage of any space and/or get the ball out to the wings.

    We just need to find that person….

    Tait and Simpson-Daniel are the kind of players I’m thinking of – but the England management team always seem to want to go for someone large in that position

    I think future years could see Twelvetrees and Tuilagi plugging our gap in the centres

  14. Hape is shite but MJ will probably stick with him unless Flutey perks up before the RWC.

  15. Nick Abendanon instead of Armitage is a no brainer as is Tom Johnson instead of any of Robshaw/Fourie/Worsley!!

    However if MJ picks well from this squad and they keep injury free and the refs sort out the NZ back row …………………….. who knows???

    Look at the last time, we were appalling but still nearly pulled it off!!

  16. Agreed with a lot of the above but Simpson, albeit lacking in bulk, has a quicker pass and pace off the mark. Youngs has got complacent, his performances of late (charged down kicks and over heated clearances) and Care looks overweight and has lost his edge.
    I agree back row blend is hardest to pick, centres second but I do like the idea of Cueto as #13. Let’s hope MJ is watching the comments, you never know

  17. Hi all,

    I think a number of players could slot into 13. For example, i’d like to see Armitage given a decent amount of time there? But i also agree, Cueto seems to have all the characteristics of a good centre. A little late now – that’s the only problem.

    A front row of Sheridan, Hartley and Stevens is among the world’s best in my opinion. And with Cole and Corb as replacements, the front row, as often, is one of our strong points.

    Locks are looking good too. The fact that an established lock like Shaw can only make the bench is good news. Think he’d bring a lot of impact off the bench too which is great.

    Back row, i went for Croft, Moody, Easter. Croft is a world class 6 in my opinion. Moody is our leader.

    Youngs, Flood – combination is more proven than any other one we’ve got i think?

    Centres remain an issue. I went for Hape and Tuilagi. I think Hape’s pretty void of creating much, but i just like the fact that with Nonu, Sonny Bill, De Villiers etc crashing it up, he’ll make the tackles.

    Back three is going to be good whoever we pick. I went for Ashton, Strettle and Foden.

  18. what we need is start with sheridan and cole with corbisero on the bench, then palmer and laws second row with either deacon or shaw as seconds, back row is tricky as we have so many outstanding players, but you would proberly have to start with croft, moody and easter as they are amazing but haskell has proved himself and wood especially, and i would also like to see whaldrom (however you spell it) or crane taken aswell.
    Then you have the backs obvious with youngs then flood but i think wilkinson should be inside as he is an incredibile tackler and passer, and aswell has great vision and kicking, and as much as i love tindall i would like to see some pace at outside so maybe banahan or tuilagi to try something different, then with a back three of cueto, ashton and foden, and with banahan or tuilagi you can have the wingers allways feeding of there crash balls with incicive off loads.

  19. Hi Duncan,

    I agree with you that Wilkinson would make a cracking 12. However it’s not going to happen, so i’ve given up on that dream. Too late unfortunately.

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