Who will replace Armitage and Flutey?

The news this week that Delon Armitage and Riki Flutey are likely to miss the Autumn Internationals is a blow for Martin Johnson, but it offers the opportunity to bring other players into the setup.

There are four more rounds of the Guinness Premiership before Johnno names replacements for the two backs, and there are a number of players keen to impress.

Olly Morgan returned from injury last week to take his place at full back for Gloucester, and is already in the Elite Player Squad for England. He’ll be playing at Kingsholm this week against Northampton, and against one his rivals for the 15 jersey.

Ben Foden is currently in the Saxons squad, but his versatility may earn him a call up to the seniors for the Autumn Tests. He has plenty of support as a future England prospect, and a few good games could even see him starting against Australia.

Mathew Tait is another option at full-back, as is Ugo Monye who has been playing there for Harlequins, and that could open the door for a player like James Simpson-Daniel or Matt Banahan to come through.

Shane Geraghty appears to be a strong option to fill Flutey’s boots, although there is also a case for Jordan Turner-Hall of Quins. The injury to Stephen Myler at Northampton has meant that Geraghty’s experiment at 12 has been short-lived, but as a strong kicking option, Geraghty could suit England’s style of play.

Who do you think should step into the breach? Are there any candidates I haven’t mentioned?

12 thoughts on “Who will replace Armitage and Flutey?

  1. Foden is definitely a gamble – there are questions over his defence and his decision making. No-one should try to dampen his attacking instinct but he sometimes gets himself into trouble deep in his half which would be exposed against top-tier international opposition.

    I’m not a fan of placing wingers at full-back – Cueto never impressed there, and although I’ve only seen 1 match with Monye at 15 this season, he’s far better used on the wing. Johnson tends towards the conservative, so assuming Morgan has a few decent games I reckon he’ll be first choice come the Tests.

    On the same note of conservatism, I’d expect a ‘meaty’ 12 to be selected, so I think Turner-Hall has the upper hand vs Geraghty. T-H had a great 2008/09 season and deserves his shot. Geraghty could come off the bench and cover 10 & 12, injecting a bit of pace on the game. He proved a constant threat from 10 in the weekend’s game for Irish, running at defenders and offloading into gaps, but his consistency and lack of bulk have always been a hinderence for the international level.

    Who do people think is likely to occupy the fly-half slot – is it time for a grand Wilko comeback?

    A wing combination of Monye and Simpson-Daniel is a delicious prospect.

  2. How about Jonny at 12 and Geraghty at 10? Jamie Noon is still an option if you want a meaty centre, but would rather see Turner-Hall given a cap.

    If Wilko stays fit, I would think he’ll be straight back into the team. Noone has made it their own in his absence, and he’s obviously highly rated by Johnno.

    AIs are still a way off, so there are bound to be a few more casualties. I just hope Jonny and JSD can stay fit!

  3. You wouldn’t put Wayne Rooney at left back would you? No, so why put your best 10 in Wilko at 12 and let an inexperienced and inconsistent Geraghty control the game from 10.

    Let’s hope we find an alternative to Jamie Noon – he’s a very average international player, who plays his heart out each game, but doesn’t have the skills or attacking ability to pose a real threat.

    I’m sure Kemlo would like to see Wilko and JSD running out side by side!

  4. Left back and striker are very different, whereas 10 and 12 are much more similar. I know they aren’t the same, but similar.

    I could quote hundreds of great examples of 10s and 12s interchanging, but at the moment I can only think of Andy Farrell.

  5. Jonny and JSD running out together would be bloody brilliant Justin but I’m not holding my breath. Having said that I have just come over a bit funny.

    I was initially going to beat the Ben Foden drum here but even I think that a back 3 of say, JSD, Monye and Foden has a bit of a cavalier look. Morgan hasn’t got major flair but does the basics well and sometimes that counts for a lot. Foden off the bench seems a good option though. At 12, Turner-Hall deserves a shot. However, if Tindall plays 13 is that a good balance? I normally like a ball player alongside a bosch merchant. That would mean Geraghty. And this before we even get onto the scrum-half debate where Simpson has started like a house on fire….

  6. Blimey, I can’t wait for the autumn series. This debate alone is getting me fired up.

    Unfortunately I think talk of JSD needs to be prefaced with “in theory, if he was not injured”. Kemlo, I’ll give you 50-1 on that combination ever happening (er…and lasting at least 40 minutes).

    My vote would be Tait at 12, especially if Tindall is at 13. Second choice for Tait would be Turner-Hall or Geraghty (doesn’t seem to be running down so many blind alleys and getting turned over this year, but still a bit flaky).

    We’re blessed with some good options at 15. I’d go for Foden (sounds like Justin’s seen more of him than me, and I may be naive in this but I just like his attitude and attacking style). If Morgan gets to last year’s form quickly he would be hard to ignore.

    As for 10, this continues to be the big problem. Johhno will go with his buddy, methinks. I wish there was a better option (ie one that would be able to make it through the season).

  7. Due to Armitage and Flutey being injuried, this would be my team the Autumn internationals (granted there’s no more injuries). I’ve given Ellis the start above Simpson simply because he has more experience and i think he would compliment Wilko better. I’ve given the captaincy to Rees as he is a real leader, unlike the gently giant that is Borthwick. That said, Borthwick is looking good at the mo. Turner-Hall replaces Flutey as after last season he deserves a shot, and same with Hipkiss over Tindall.

    1. Sheridan
    2. Mears
    3. Vickery
    4. Borthwick
    5. Shaw
    6. Croft
    7. Rees (c)
    8. Crane
    9. Ellis
    10. Wilkinson
    11. Banahan
    12. Turner-Hall
    13. Hipkiss
    14. Monye
    15. Morgan

    16. Hartley
    17. Wilson
    18. Payne
    19. Armitage
    20. Simpson
    21. Flood
    22. Tait

  8. I would have Hartley in at hooker, Kennedy in for Shaw (given that Borthwick won’t get dropped), Easter at 8, Simpson at 9 if he continues in this form, JSD in for Banahan and Tindall in for Hipkiss.

    I always get excited about the AIs and am usually disappointed, so hopefully this year will be different!

  9. Don’t think they’ll even consider Wilko at 12 and rightly so at the moment. Perhaps if there was an obvious successor who needed some support but there isn’t. As long as he’s on form, Wilko at 10.

    As for 12, I do think you need balance. Tait is a non-starter having never played there in his life but Turner-Hall alongside Tindall or Hipkiss would be too route one. And Wilko always plays better alongside a ball-player, not least because it covers his tendency to get stuck at the bottom of rucks. Would have liked to see Geraghty get a run at 12 alongside a consistent fly half at club level but even though he hasn’t he is a good option at 12. Unfortunately I reckon there’s a good chance Johnno might put Flood there. He’s obviously a fan and in the absence of Flutey that position is open.

    I’d like to see Foden get a run at 15. We spend so much time in this country dwelling on players’ weaknesses but if a guy has got that much talent, give him a run. So what if he’s got a few weaknesses, you’re only going to find out about him if you give him a crack. Don’t wait for him to stagnate.

  10. Flood is injured and unlikely to get enough game time before the autumn internationals to justify a start. In my eyes Geraghty’s international career is more sparkling than Cips, as the later always seems to choke on the big stage. Given the recent injury to JT-H I’d like to see Wilko, Geraghty and Tins together. It would be a shame for Tait (yet again), but we have no big target runner for 12 that I can think of and therefore cannot afford a flair 13. Before he had an average game this week I’d have said Morgan for 15, but now I don’t know. In fact, this weekend, Foden, Morgan and Monye were all below par so I think we have a problem at 15 and don’t really think it is fair to throw Tait in there considering that such an action is likely to dent his international confidence further as the Argentinians in particular like to drop high balls on to fullbacks… If only Geordan Murphy or Scott Hamilton were English!

    – Borthwick is not charismatic enough to be captian and not sure of his place as a player (although Kennedy has not been his usual faultless self so far this year)
    – Bannahan is not fast enough to be a full international
    – Delon is our best fullback by a country mile.
    – Tom Varndell is a joke (a very very fast one, but a joke nonetheless)

  11. Some interesting points J-Dawg, and you might be disappointed by the news that Borthwick’s shoulder injury will not rule him out of the Autumn games.

    I like the sound of Wilko, Geraghty and Tindall, and Monye isn’t looking too bad at full-back even in a struggling team, leaving room on the wing for JSD!

  12. Monye is a winger, not a full back. Geragthy isn’t consistent enough. JSD will be lucky to make squad (simply due to pass injuries). Turner-Hall looks like he’s gonna be ruled out with injury. Tindall and Hipkiss at the moment look dull (which leaves us with big problems in centre). Borthwick is looking good, but still no captain and his fitness is doubtful. Kennedy may get call up call (right so). All in all, looking like it could be mis-match autumn internationals again, which will simply put us back again

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