Six Nations 2013: England team to play Wales

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Owen Farrell returns to the England starting line-up for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations title decider against Wales at the Millennium Stadium (5pm).

The Saracen takes over at fly-half and will be joined at scrum-half by Ben Youngs, while Leicester Tigers team-mate Toby Flood and Danny Care (Harlequins) will be among the replacements.

There are two changes to the pack that started against Italy with Joe Marler (Harlequins) replacing Mako Vunipola (Saracens) at loose-head prop and Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers) starting at blindside flanker in place of James Haskell (London Wasps).

England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster said: “We have come a long way through the QBE series and the Six Nations and we want to finish well on what will be a fantastic occasion in Cardiff. It will be a great experience for our English team. Every single player, whether they are in the 23 or not this Saturday, has contributed to getting us in this position and they should be proud of that.

“The support of the country has been great throughout the tournament and I am sure they will be right behind us come 5 o’clock.”

England (v Wales, Saturday, 5pm, Millennium Stadium, live on BBC One)
15. Alex Goode (Saracens, 10 caps)
14. Chris Ashton (Saracens, 33 caps)
13. Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 20 caps)
12. Brad Barritt (Saracens, 15 caps)
11. Mike Brown (Harlequins, 15 caps)
10. Owen Farrell (Saracens, 15 caps)
9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 32 caps)
1. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 9 caps)
2. Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 8 caps)
3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 39 caps)
4. Joe Launchbury (London Wasps, 8 caps)
5. Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers, 16 caps)
6. Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers, 37 caps)
7. Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, capt, 16 caps)
8. Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 17 caps)

Replacements
16. Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 46 caps)
17. David Wilson (Bath Rugby, 25 caps)
18. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 8 caps)
19. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 19 caps)
20. James Haskell (London Wasps, 49 caps)
21. Danny Care (Harlequins, 40 caps)
22. Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers, 56 caps)
23. Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby, 3 caps)

What do you make of the changes?

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96 comments on “Six Nations 2013: England team to play Wales

  1. I think Croft will bring a lot of mobility to the forwards but just don’t see him carrying as effectively as someone like B Vunipola. Yes its late to change things but i think the balance of the pack would improve with a big carrier in it.

    I really don’t see what Goode brings to the back 3. Would much prefer the more abrasive Brown to be at 15, for me he is better under the high ball,is a stronger tackler and would compliment Ashton by running hard and direct.

    I don’t like to say it but i am starting to wonder about SL. He first came on the scene and gave chances to form players regardless of experience but now seems to ignore them when they are clearly needed. There is however the chance he knows a little more than i do….

    • agree regarding goode. and i know where you are coming from with SL. having been so much about picking form players, i think that “having credit in the bank” (his phrase not mine) has become the more dominant method of selecting. as we saw when wales had there bad run, picking players “with credit in the bank” who are not playing well is only going to end up one way.

      croft is actually quite an effective carrier in his own right. he isnt a bulldozer who is going to drag 4 men along with him, but in a one on one situation, croft is often going to do pretty well. after all, he is bigger than most backs, and faster than most forwards.

    • It is unlikely any coach would make major changes just before a grandslam decider.
      Expect a number of changes for the summer tour – some forced by the Lions and injuries and some not

      • You also have to remember that he can only pick from players in the EPS, and can only bring in other players if someone gets injured. So who would you rather see starting for the last game, Goode, Strettle, Monye? Yes Goode has made a few mistakes but given the choices, and with Foden still not at the level he was, Goode is probably the best option.

        • Isn’t monye in the Saxons?

          If we are opening it up to Saxons, then all of a sudden there are plenty of players I would want over Goode.

          Daly, May, Biggs, Wade would be my choices.

          In my opinion, a foden who isn’t quite at his best would still be a better attacking threat than Goode. I would like to see foden on the wing. He has proven that he is a pretty decent finisher, and it would bring more pace and counter attack into the back 3. Plus foden is better under the highball. So far all the threat on the counter, and dealing with highballs is coming from brown.

  2. I think sl has the idea of building a core team towards rwc 2015. This means that picking payers on form alone would make this job a lot more difficult as the squad would be constantly chopped and changed

    • Very interesting point. I actually think that the size of our playing pool can count against us on occasions as there are always players on the best form of their lives, who will not necessarily be able to cope at the top level when their form dips back to it’s normal level. Of course we the public and the media scream for these players to be included when they look good and then scream for them to be dropped when their form dips again. Goode may in fact be an example of this.

      Some of the nations with a smaller pool of players to choose from, don’t pick and choose so much leading to a more stable team. It may be that SL is looking at players potential and a more settled squad in the lead up to 2015 than maybe we give him credit for, and then again maybe he isn’t……! That maybe why some players who are good enough are given more leeway than ones who aren’t going to be there in 2015. Ashton?

      I really don’t have a clue what the answer is but an interesting debate for another day!

  3. I have to say I really think Croft’s main asset is his line out work, England’s line out has been pretty shoddy compared to everyone elses but when he came on last week suddenly we were stealing and disrupting ball again.

  4. Ashton is weak in the tackle and attemps to to leave it to others, as a threat he’s become ineffective since his mate Foden hasnt been in the team.
    Goode is way too safe and controlled, a little more aggresion wouldnt go ammiss.
    Croft is very threatening with a little power and good speed to worry the opposition.

  5. i wasn’t debating whether Goode/Croft are better or worse players than others merely that the balance of the team seems slightly awkward.

    It’s only my opinion but i don’t see how Goode brings out the best in Ashton and Brown in fact i would say he makes it harder for them. I don’t think they compliment each others game and therefore don’t see how each can be as effective as possible. Brown at 15 would allow Ashton to run with far better timing. As for the other wing berth who knows, why not Strettle?

    Same point with Croft. Simo is right and he is a pretty decent carrier but Morgan he is not. He is not going to make the hard yards that Vunipola might and this extra go forward would balance the pack slightly better for me.

    Not looking for wholesale changes and agree that would not be right but these 2 changes would seem not only logical but prudent in the wake of Italy

    • i agree with you here stu.

      and yes, a bigger carrier would provide better balance to the backrow. but i do think that the inclusion of croft is more positive in terms of balance than haskell. the haskell of old would have been a good carrying option at 8, but i seems that more recently (probably due to the other backrowers he plays with at wasps) he has become more of a workhorse, and less of a carrier. therefore i guess croft is seen more as the carrier in the wider channels, while robshaw works at first receiver and wood buries his head in rucks. so as i say, i guess croft can be seen as a positive, but there is no doubting that england are lacking a really heavyweight ball carrier in the backrow.

      i completely agree that goode seems to be making life more difficult for those trying to work off of him. and i would also shift brown to 15. i think strettle could be an option at 11, although i would prefer foden. having said this, foden seems to not be on form, and clearly england dont think he is fit enough/ready to be playing yet. so that leaves us with strettle, who has been playing relatively well at sarries recently.

      i think that (apart from changing back to b. youngs and farrell, which was needed) that some of the changes were made in the wrong places, thereby making it impossible to make other changes without having it seem like wholesale. clearly marler/vunipola and croft/haskell were all deemed as acceptable changes, because all the players have had decent amounts of game time in the tournament, but i didnt think they were that necessary. i would have preferred see them stay the same, and changes in the back 3.

    • Last week we didn’t earn the right to go wide, because we weren’t going forwards first. So we just went from side to side and were contained without too much difficulty in the midfield. Whilst Croft clearly has some exceptional athletic attributes I seriously doubt he’s going to give us the go forward, his use is wider out once you’ve already earned the right to play there.

      The entire back row (including Croft) made 30m in 80 mins, Vunipola made 25 in 50 mins. Factor in that some of Robhaws 26m contribution are on kick return and it means we have dropped a prop that made more hard yards than the entire back row. In his 3 starts and 30 mins as a replacement Marler has made 4m in the entire championship.

      Unless we have some great game plan that involves not carrying the ball forwards then I’m confused by the selection as only Tuilagi & Youngs (T) are any good at getting across the gain line.

  6. Davo from Dudley March 15, 2013 at 2:37 pm - Reply

    I concur with most of the comments above regarding Goode at fullback, and replacing him with Brown. Also I agree that Strettle should be given another shot. Also in my opinion, what did Ben Foden do wrong??
    My biggest change would be to include Courtneay Lawes instead of leaving him on the bench. With him and Croft in the pack the mobility would be more than the Welsh forwards could cope with.
    All in all, I see an English win by at least a converted try score

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