Following the series of polls last week in which we asked our readers to pick the England team, we can now confirm the results. Johnno – are you reading?
Andrew Sheridan was a clear favourite in the front row, and should take his place as soon as he is fit again. In his absence, Tim Payne was the only real option in the Elite Squad but people clearly believe that he should just be keeping the left side of the scrum warm until Sheri returns.
David Wilson was preferred to Julian White at tighthead prop, whilst Dylan Hartley was by far the most popular choice at hooker with 82% of the votes.
In the second row, there were two clear favourites, and this could be the key difference between Johnno’s team and The Rugby Blog’s team. Simon Shaw was the front runner alongside the young Courtney Lawes – what a partnership this could be, but alas, with Borthwick continuing as skipper, we may never see it.
With Tom Croft injured, the back row almost picks itself – James Haskell, Lewis Moody and Nick Easter is a pretty solid unit, and when Croft returns, the competition for places should only enhance performances. Chris Robshaw was the fourth most popular back rower, and could be a good option on the bench, although with Borthwick likely to be starting, Lawes could be ideal on the bench to cover the back 5 in the scrum.
Danny Care and Jonny Wilkinson were preferred at half-back with 61% and 66% of the vote respectively. After Paul Hodgson’s disappointing display against Leinster, this could well be the starting half-back pairing.
A centre partnership of Riki Flutey and Mathew Tait might just rouse some level of excitement among The Rugby Blog’s readers, but this seems like a big step away from Ayoola Erinle and Dan Hipkiss who started in England’s last outing against the All Blacks. If Flutey and Tait were to get the nod, we might actually see some attacking from England’s backs – our collective fingers are crossed.
The back three also picked itself to some extent. With Tait in the centres, the general consensus was Ugo Monye and Mark Cueto on either wing, with Delon Armitage restored at full-back. Ben Foden would then be a useful man to have on the bench, covering a number of positions with the ability to bring a bit of flair to proceedings.
Here is The Rugby Blog’s preferred England team in full. What do you think? What would your starting team be?
1. Payne (Sheridan if fit)