Wales announces team to play England

alun wyn jones

Wales have made two changes to the side to face England in the RBS 6 Nations at Twickenham on Sunday (KO 15.00) with British and Irish Lions duo Jonathan Davies and Alun Wyn Jones returning to the starting line-up.

Davies returns from injury to reunite Wales’ most capped centre pairing as he lines up alongside Jamie Roberts.

The only change in pack, from the victory against France, sees Jones return to the engine room after missing the Millennium Stadium clash with a foot infection. He partners Luke Charteris behind an all-Lions front-row of Gethin Jenkins, Richard Hibbard and Adam Jones, with Scarlets lock Jake Ball moving to the bench. The back-row remains unchanged with captain Sam Warburton featuring alongside Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau.

Rhys Webb and Rhys Priestland continue their partnership at half-back.

There is one positional change in the back-line with George North returning to the wing from centre, in place of Scarlets back Liam Williams who provides cover from the bench. North lines up alongside Cardiff Blues pair Alex Cuthbert and Leigh Halfpenny in the back three.

UPDATE: Luke Charteris has been ruled out with a neck injury; Jake Ball starts and Andrew Coombs comes onto the bench.

Wales team to play England:
Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), George North (Northampton Saints), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro), Sam Warburton (CAPT – Cardiff Blues), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Paul James (Bath Rugby), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Andrew Coombs (Dragons), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Liam Williams (Scarlets).

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

69 thoughts on “Wales announces team to play England

  1. I’m actually quite happy about JD2 facing us – it’s going to be intense and will require sharpness, he’s short of game time.

    1. I agree that looks good for England – I am very nervous about us picking a guy with 60mins of rugby pretty much all season.

      1. If England do go ahead and pick Tuilagi there will be a lot of egg on my face, that’s for sure. I think/hope Lancaster’s loyalty won’t allow that, but we may see him on the bench.

          1. Not as much as Goode it seems. Though I don’t rule out Goode taking Ford’s place to accomodate Manu. although I never feel Manu is particulalry effective when he comes on as a sub. He’s a starter or not at all for me, but maybe without Billy V, SL worries that we lack gain line breakers.

            1. To be honest I’m not bothered at all if England do pick Manu. I’ve seen him be great in one international match. He played most (all?) of the game the last time these two sides met, butchered a nailed on overlap in the first ten, was mostly anonymous for the rest of it. This was a match after his one great match as well.

              Now you watch, he’ll come and dance all over the place now I’ve said that.

              What’s the genuine feeling in England about him? The media seem to have built him into a Messi type i.e. it’s almost like him being in the team alone will give Eng all they need to smash anyone but current records indicate that’s not true. Are you lot desperate for him to start? If you are, would you be so desperate if 12Ts hadn’t played like a broken down old nag?

              1. I’d be disappointed if he starts, too soon.

                I think he’s a game-changer – in tight tests, which let’s face it a lot are, he only needs to do his thing once and you have the winning try. He did it against Wales on his debut, Ireland for our first win in Dublin for 8 years, France last Six Nations, and France in the 2012 Six Nations. That I can think of.

              2. I think he’s a genuinely class player. Always seems to break the first tackle even from a standing start, but never really had support runners to offload to (which he does well for Leicester). I think england became too reliant on him whcih made it easier for oppositon defences to blunt his effectiveness, but with the form Brown, Care and even May are in, he could be very dangerous.

                As I said, gut feeling is a bench spot, possibly to come on as JD2 starts to tire in the ast qtr (if he stays on that long).

              3. For me, the biggest thing for Wales here is that if JD2 can play even a little below average, Wales will have ‘won’ in this selection, because it allows North to slide back to wing. Yes, I know he scored against teh French, but that wasn’t due to outside centre play. He’s a world class wing, an (at the moment) average OC. and Williams on the wing didn’t show a huge amount.

                But I think this is probably the best Wales line up there is.

                The key here is that I don’t know about the 9-10 axis. If the Wales forwards muller the England pack like they did last year then the fact that Webb is a near rookie and Priestland has been streaky as anything in the past 18 months will be irrelevant, though.

                I’d tend to assume that the Welsh pack won’t be able to dominate the England pack, but to give the halfbacks some relief I think the Welsh carry round the fringes will be crucial – and without Phillips, that means Hibbard, AWJ and Faletau need to be very effective, and for all his qualities (i rate him highly) I don’t think Faletau has been carrying as effectively this year.

  2. Full strength side. No excuses. Glad Webb kept his place. Phillips to come on at about 70 and get sent of immediately for stoving Farrell’s face in.

    If we can keep the media focusing on throwaway English comments, turning them into hysterical headlines, then we should be simmering nicely by Sunday. I hope it’s a cracker.

    I think whoever wins this has the best chance of winning the Championship simply because in the last round Ireland play France in Paris and I think France might win that whereas both Wales and England have the current bottom teams.

    1. I agree, Ireland have a dreadful record in Paris (no wins and just the one draw since 2000), and France do seem to be better at home than on the road. However, BOD will want to go out with a bang – and what better way to book-end his match list against France than another hat-trick like he did on that day?

      1. Yes, I don’t think Ireland losing in Paris is a foregone conclusion by any means, I just think that there is a decent chance of them doing so and hence this Sunday’s game is probably the championship decider. Only probably though. Ireland in the next 2 games and they have it in the bag so it is theirs to lose really.

      2. With Fra v ire the last match of the Championship, the victor of sunday’s match has to make it as hard as possible for the Irish and make up the points difference. If Ireland ONLY have to worry about the win, I think they’ll do it But if their focus is even marginally diluted by having to win by a certain margin (no matter how small) then I think they will struggle.

          1. Easy – if England win on Sunday we just need to put 60 points on Italy in Rome. Despite the fact our last 3 tests there have been victories by 4 or 5.

            1. England’s points difference is no so off Ireland’s tbf, so we hardly need such a win, but agree, it has been close recently so any spread will be difficult.

          2. Which might be enough to sow enough seeds of indecsion. It means they need to be 2 scores clear to avoid last minute heart break. Who knows maybe one of Eng or Wales will win big this weekend and Ireland will have a meltdown against Italy at home, like England did last year. As much as they’ll deny it they will be trying ot put points on Italy rather than go only for the win, so it could back fire. But probably wont.

  3. 12 Lions in the starting line up and two on the bench for good measure.

    No surprises. Quite happy to see Davies in there, he surely can’t be sharp. If fit, he is an incredible player, but I just don’t see how he can be. Two games since November.

    I was hoping they’d bring Phillips back in, as he’s useless. With a bit of luck he’ll be introduced as soon as possible.

    Absolutely can not wait for this game! It is going to be an epic encounter!

    1. Yes, 12 Lions – but Lions picked by the same coach who picks the Wales squad. Not bringing up the whole “biased” argument, but rather on 50:50 calls he was always going to go with what he knew.

      1. Don’t really agree with that argument. Squad wise I pretty much agree with who he took. If there was a Lions tour this summer then I’d expect the likes of Vunipola, Launchbury and Wood to be much closer. But last year, it made sense.

        Gatland definitely went with who he knew for test match selections, but take nothing away from this Wales squad, they have earned the right to be called Lions.

        1. Agree with Jacob – in each of the so called contentious calls where Gats went with Welsh boys I didn’t see a 100% certainty that he compared to equal quality players and plumped for the Welsh ones. JD was playing better than BOD (oh darn, I’ve torn it now, I’ll get ready for the flames on that one), Lydiate was the best 6 option for that backrow… I’ll stop there.

          My point is that I think that saying that Gats picked some of those guys based on knowledge is also a form of bias i.e. it makes out that it was clear that some of those guys were not the best guys in those positions at those times, and I think they were.

          And yes, Launchbury would get in now, but not last summer.

          1. I do think that Gatland made poor calls in favour of this Welsh guys, don’t get me wrong. Lydiate and Phillips stand out for me as players who should not have seen a test match (at that time!).

            BUT, still Lions. Still won.

            1. As a Kiwi mate said to me:

              “If Alex Cuthbert is one of the two best wingers in the NH then it’s no wonder you lot struggle in the AIs”

              1. Haha! I’m really not a Cuthbert fan either. The guy can not defend. I fully expect May and Brown to be targeting him this weekend.

                Cuthbert to me is an athlete. Big, quick and a hell of a finisher. His positioning and skill level is poor IMO.

                To be fair though, he only played the first test match, and took a great line to score a try. As soon as Bowe was fit he was rightly back in the side. England at the time had no wing options so I can at least understand the Cuthbert selection.

                1. Oh, absolutely. Just because I’m an England supporter don’t assume that any Lions selection I question means that I think an England player should have been there instead (Ashton shouldn’t have, and the rest of our wingers were actually fullbacks). I was surprised Visser didn’t go.

                2. Cuthbert is still new but is still 3rd best option in the NH. I sort if agree with your Kiwi mate but that’s just because most of the other options are pretty poor.

    2. 12 Lions in the starting 15, but so what. I think being a Lion counts for very little. They squeaked through that tour, and practically the same side (minus Sexton, Corbs and a couple of others) went on to lose at home to Australia.

      Having 12 Lions in the starting 15 is meaningless.

  4. JD a bit of a risk, but a risk worth taking because he can be such an influential player, don’t think Gats would be taking the chance unless he was sure he is ready.
    Glad to see Webb kept in after his last performance, AWJ should be well rested after his sabbatical so should go the full 80, Ball to come on for Charteris…..

    Will be stuck in an airport on Sunday afternoon, recording the match & trying like hell to avoid the score !!

    1. “don’t think Gats would be taking the chance unless he was sure he is ready.”

      I’d love to agree but 1st and 2nd matches – Warburton and Jenkins clearly not ready.

    2. I’m lucky enough to be going, which is great as you get to avoid the frenetic build-up in the media (social and TV), which makes things a little less nerve-wracking.

      The problem with Wales at Twickenham is their ability to come back from a deficit. In 2008 there was that ridiculous comeback from 19-6 down, in 2010 we were 20-3 up and Wales brought it back to 20-17 before the intercept try, and in 2012 we were 12-6 up and lost 19-12! As such, you can’t ever relax until it’s physically impossible for Wales to win (as an England fan).

  5. A real test for this England side. A valiant loss by <7 points will not be considered enough England need to win this one and keep their chances of the Championship alive.

    Saying that it is a strong team from Wales, the only consideration is whether their Lions can keep putting in the big performances as they have played consistently for 18 months. This has already started to manifest itself in injuries and question marks over some players' fitness and sharpness therefore exist.

    England on the other hand should be hungry. England will have no Lions in the pack to Wales' 7, but individually they will feel that they are every bit as good as their counterparts and will want to prove this by beating Wales and going on to win the Championship.

    So close, too close to call. England by 50.

  6. Picking 2 out and out 10’s a bit of a risk?

    If North and JD2 go down (a possibility) who’s covering centre?

    Picking Biggar suggests you’re not 100% comfortable with Priestland.

    I’d have gone Biggar to start, Priestland out altogether and Hook on the bench for a bit of cover in the OH/C channel.

  7. The only question marks really are JD’s fitness and the continuing persistence with Priestland .On Priestland he probably did (just ) enough against France to be picked for this one especially his suprising one on one tackling of Basteraud ! ,at least Biggar’s there to take over .

    Anarky Biggar can cover centre too .

  8. Really really strong side. What an opportunity for England. If we can beat Wales at full strength missing Corbs, Cole, Vunipola, Tuilagi, Yarde and Foden – it would send such a message about their strength and depth. However if we lose no excuses injury wise. This side has shown it is capable of competing so a loss has to be taken as it is – a crushing set back.

    I really hope Wilson is back at full fitness, I actually think he is a better scrummager than Cole and that is the main area I am worried about. Wales will no doubt get the benefit of the doubt if the scrums collapse, given their experience and pedigree, so I really hope Rowntree has done his homework here.

    As ever the optimist I’m putting down the missed try opportunities to a lack of communication from this new back line. Fingers crossed they click on Sunday and score a hatful of tries!!

    1. Benjit, I know this is a particular issue if yours as you mention it a lot. Most times I don’t reply but just once before Sunday – Wales got the decisions last year because they mullered England up front. England, with a retreating and physically dominated scrum, had penalties awarded against them becausee they were the right penalties to award. I expect to see the same this weekend – ie the dominant team awarded the pens, whoever that turns out to be.

      I know this won’t change your mind but this constant reference to the welsh scrum without admitting that it was just better than the English one has to be challenged sometimes.

      Enjoy the match.

      1. In previous years Jones persistently got away with binding on the arm and getting the benefit of the doubt when the scrum went down, hence his early season struggles with the new laws which makes it harder to get away with illegal binds. England had no such problems against france and Italy, two sides Wales did not dominate, so excuse me for doubting some of the decisions last year. Yes the Welsh scrum last year was better but not THAT much better and I maintain we were reffed out of that part of the match (which doesn’t excuse the capitulations elsehwere on the pitch).

        I am hoping that the higher number of scrum collapses in games featuring Wales is more to to do with the poor Millenium pitch. Despite the fact that England have stuggled in the scrum this 6n, notably agianst France and Ireland, we did by and large manage to avoid too many tedious collapses and resets. That said without Corbs (I think Wilson is more than a decent replacement) – Wales do have a much clearer advantage – hence my worries.

        As I have said repeatedly – I don’t think Walsh affected the result last year, the warning signs were there against Italy that England were going to struggle but to say that he was completly fair and balanced is rubbish. That said I think that result was perhaps a blessing in disguise as it made SL rethink his strategy. Had we scraped the Championship on points difference I have a feeling we would still have Messers Ashton, Goode and Barritt in the starting back line.

        1. Yes, I know that is what you think and I’m glad to see it more baldly stated. All of this reference to experience etc. when we know that what you really meant was that Walsh favoured Wales in the scrum and that Jones gets away with cheating.

          I disagree. Adam struggles in the scrum this year due to the removal of the hit as a weapon rather than any change on binding.

          Walsh/Wales/England again … it’s been done to death. Some fans think he helped Wales, some don’t. If you think he helped Wales win then maybe he’ll help us again on Sunday when he’s running the line. It’s not rubbish to say he was fair – he was. We mullered England in every aspect of that game but no, we can’t get credit for that or, if we do, it’s always with a caveat of “well, yes, you would have won anyway BUT Walsh …” so it’s never unequivocal credit, there’s always a shadow cast over it.

          I’m not able to find much stats on collapsed scrums – I’ve found some that point out that in 2011 it was Ire v Sco that had the most, not a game with Wales in. The only other thing I could find “World Cup showed that, in matches between tier one nations, 50 scrums out of 100 collapsed, there were 31 resets per 100 and 41 free-kicks or penalties per 100. Those figures were virtually identical in the Six Nations; 49, 33 and 39 respectively.” So this indicates that when you include Sanzar/Pacific/US/etc you don’t get much difference in collapsed scrum rate – so looking at it from the other side, Wales are not a disproportionate contributor in the 6Ns – if they were then their influence would be reduced in the WC and hence the proportion of collapses reduced. So where do you get your stats from about the excessive num of collapsed scrums in Wales matches? I am assuming by excessive you mean sig. nums e.g. 60% in Wales matches, 40% or less in everyone else’s or something like that? Oh, and also you must be inferring some sort of attempt by Wales to collapse it and hence win the penalty?

          Which, even if the latter were true, could be explained by them being stronger in the scrum than their oppo so the oppo collapses it to avoid being marched back. Again, it’s all subjective. You’ll see a collapsed scrum on Sun and attribute it to Welsh dark deeds, no matter what the ref decides.

          1. The fact that you are so sensistive to this criticsm of Wales’s greatest win, makes me think that deep down you agree to the validity of my claims ;)

            And yes my opinion on collpased scrums is subjective only, based on the last three matches I have watched involving Wales – Eng, SA and France. All good scummaging sides, yet when they play Wales seemingly unable to keep a scrum up. As Brian Moore noted during the England match, when England 8 were under pressure “you seem scrums can stay up if the teams WANT them to”. I suspect Moore is a better judge of the dark arts than either of us and even he puts most collapses down to the motivation of the respective teams.

            1. Nah, it’s more that due to being the wrong side of 40, but not far enough, I a) missed the 70s b) remember the 90s extremely well. So I’ve pretty much seen England murder us for most of my life. So last March was one of the greatest experiences I’ve had as a Wales fan. Discarding England for a mo it was probably our most complete performance I have seen. Then add in it’s against a team who used to hand out 50 point drubbings to us for most of my life and it’s a pretty special moment. So yep, I am sensitive to any suggestion that any element of it lacks 100% integrity.

          2. The penalties went to the dominant scrum. Thought it was pretty pathetic from Rowntree afterwards discussing the legitimacy of some of the decisions. Whether some of his points were correct or not is irrelevant, they were only symptoms, the cause was we were pulverised in the scrum. All the focus on ‘seeking clarifications’ etc was a complete waste of time and energy, the only question he needed to be answering was ‘how do we become better at scrummaging?’

            Very worried about the scrum this week. The Twickenham surface is a good one to scrum on, so we won’t see the contest diluted by being on a rice pudding skin. Wilson will be better than he was 2 weeks ago, but I don’t think he’ll be at peak strength yet. All of England’s front row replacements are noted for what they do out of the scrum rather than in it, Thomas will have his hands full with James.

      2. Brighty that is a ridiculous argument. The England team last year didn’t really have a back line. So if there scrum was stuggling then they might as well have not turned up.

        Besides, England have always been the best scrummagers in the world. So all penalties should have been awarded Englands way.

        Removing the tongue from the cheek:
        Sometimes I find it frustrating that by doing some illegal/barely legal scrummaging you can get your scrum going forward and therefore get the penalties. However, everyone is clear that the scrum going forward have the advantage. Everyone knows how it is refereed, so get on with it. And England have benefited from this at times.

        And I am now starting to sound like Brian “I can only talk about one thing” Moore.

        1. Exactly Mike – if Wales can simply when scrums by illegally binding on the arm, and they always get away with it, then this implies one of two things

          1 – Adam is a Jedi master who can convince the ref that he has bound correctly
          2 – Other teams are a bit thick if they’ve not realised that illegal binding not only wins scrums but doesn’t get you penalised

          Neither of which sound likely. We all know the scrum has many tricks and tips to get the win, to get the upper hand, but to try and imply that the only dodgy deeds done in Welsh matches are all by the Welsh front row only is obviously absurd.

          1. It’s less Adam is a jedi master, and more he’s recognised for being one of the best scrummagers in the world. So if something is going wrong that side, there’s a 90% chance it’s the LH (even when it isn’t).

            For the same reason Corbs can get away with boring in every scrum, since he’s the best, it’s clearly not his fault, and therefore must be the TH.

            Corbs vs Jones would probably result in something resembling a fair refereeing performance.

            But that’s the benefit of having a “world class” scrummager, you get the 50/50s, and even the 70/30s, and England gain the same benefit from Corbs, so it’s tough to argue. Just a shame our one is injured all the time.

        2. ” if there scrum was stuggling then they might as well have not turned up. ”

          Oh, should I go there? Umm, 30-3. So really, they sort of didn’t bother turning up? :-)

          1. Ha!

            njoy it while it lasts Brighty (which will hopefully be until Sunday at 15:00 and if not, I’ll settle for 2015 when the Aussies and England knock Wales out at the pool stage of the RWC…)

            1. Definitely Pablito. Something tells me we will not get such a result this weekend and a loss would not surprise me. So I am going to milk last years result as much as poss until then.

          2. You heard from a Welshman first. The loss to Wales last year wasn’t because England weren;t good. It wasn’t even because Wales were better. It was because England didn’t turn up. 30-3 sounds about right for 15 Welshmen playing against nobody.

            If England had been there they would have won.

              1. Last year Wales won the game by being dominant in every area. Yes the ref did not help England no favours but as stated England were going backwards anyway (thats when they were allowed to actually bind). I’m a big fan of rewarding the attacking/dominant team so I have no complaints about it.

                I do however feel that part of the dominance was Wales front row using the soft hit tactic which gave them an extra edge. This has been wiped out with the new scrum laws and has reduced Wales effectiveness there.

                I can’t see the game being anything like last time. England were on a downward slide and everything seemed to fall into place for that Wales performance. You could really feel it coming. I’m expecting an England win this time around by 10 points plus.

  9. All this talk of last year’s game has depressed me.

    To cheer myself up I shall see if I can find some highlights of the England Wales game when Nick Easter scored 4 tries from a total distance of about 3 yards

    1. Perhaps this will cheer you up, Pablito. A comparison of the probable team on Sunday and the XV that faced Wales:

      2014 – 2013
      Brown – Goode
      Nowell – Ashton
      Burrell – Tuilagi
      Twelvetrees – Barritt
      May – Brown
      Farrell – Farrell
      Care – B Youngs
      Marler – Marler
      Hartley – T Youngs
      Wilson – Cole
      Launchbury – Launchbury
      Lawes – Parling
      Wood – Croft
      Robshaw – Robshaw
      Morgan – Wood

      How many of the 2013 players would you pick over their 2014 counterparts? Tuilagi and Cole, probably, but that’s it (you wouldn’t pick Brown on the wing or Wood at 8). Even Marler now is better than Marler then!

      1. If he was actually match fit, and in form, I’d go with Croft actually. We’re using Lawes in the wide channels at the moment, and Wood to some degree, Croft is perfect for that job and would suit our current style, whilst offering another strong lineout option.

        1. We can’t balance a backrow with Croft. Excellent bench option and hope he comes back fully fit. But with the players we’ve got at 7 & 8 it’s Wood every time.

      2. I would also think about Croft vs. Wood. But I am not sure Croft and Robshaw would work well together.

        1. Croft just likes to piss about on the wing, whereas Wood is a proper grafter and gets stuck in with the dirty work. I think Croft is much better in the last quarter when, to use a tired rugby cliché, “the game has started to break up”.

          1. “Croft just likes to piss about on the wing” is as much of a tired rugby cliché as “the game has started to break up”.

            1. Jamie, do you have an alert setup for any post that contains the words “Croft” and “wing”

            2. It’s a glib oversimplification admittedly, but for a physical game like Wales will bring I feel much happier with Tom Wood over Tom Croft.

      3. This is very interesting Geat, and I bet if you look at the Welsh team last year to this there would be…………one change? Webb in for Phillips. It’s just a guess, but I can’t be too wrong. Marler is doing a great job so far and I think he will do ok against Jones on Sunday, as will Wilson against Jenkins.

        To me Jones and Jenkins have not looked fully fit for Wales this 6N. (I’m not sure Jenkins is ever fully fit these days!). Whilst losing Cole is a blow, I think Wilson is a very decent player, and possibly a better scrummager than Cole.

        Launchbury and Lawes (with Hartley throwing in) are forming an excellent partnership and their work rate around the pitch is immense.

        I must admit though that if Billy Vunipola was fit, and Croft was available, I would be tempted to play Croft. With Morgan playing I would pick Wood.

        1. There’s a couple of changes – Priestland/Webb instead of Biggar/Phillips, Charteris/AWJ instead of AWJ/Evans, and Lydiate/Warburton rather than Warburton/Tipuric.

          I agree that, when in full form, Wilson is probably a better scrummager than Cole. He likes his bullocking runs as well, but I don’t think he’s as good at the breakdown.

          This England side can certainly “use” the hurt of last year’s game, but is young enough and with enough different players to not have any kind of psychological disadvantage.

  10. Right, first off, this is one of the Dans (there’s apparently two of us, so I’m changing). Thankfully I’ve not disagreed with much the other Dan has said, but would rather split off :).

    Our gameplan is already causing us to send our “grafters” out wide, to support the passing game, if we’re doing that regardless, Croft is perfect. He does work hard, but he also has the pace and ability to do something useful with the ball should he end up on the end of the line.

    Check out the demented mole blog, they do a very nice thing with Ruck scores:

    Croft needs to be told to stand tighter (and he can do it) if the gameplan isn’t to go wide, but if the ball is getting to the edges, he’s very busy.

    1. Best example of looking at the facts to draw conclusions I’ve ever seen in rugby. It also shows how crazy Gatland was to keep Vunipola on for the full 80 in the second test when his workrate had tailed off so dramatically.

      On the Croft point, hitting rucks isn’t his natural game, he can do it when instructed. But not a lot comes of it (the ruck scores show that, none of his ruck hits were classified as decisive), as he’s not much of a physical presence. So if you need a guy to hit a lot of rucks then pick a guy that’s good at rucking.

      When you look at a typical set of Croft game stats:
      – His tackle counts are quite low
      – The number of times he touches the ball (run or pass) is quite low. Sometimes he’ll make one huge bust and gain a lot of meters, but these tend to happen later in a game (which is why I see him as a good bench option).

      Maybe I’ll have a go at one of those ruck spreadsheets (for some late night nerdery) …. but only if England win, I don’t think I could face the hours of pause, rewind, slow forward, if it’s a loss!

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