Wilkinson and Barkley return to face Samoa

Brian Ashton has named both Jonny Wilkinson and Olly Barkley in midfield in the team to face Samoa at the weekend.  Both had been injured and missed the South Africa debacle, but Wilkinson is restored at fly-half and Barkley has ousted the lumbering Andy Farrell.

Despite previously stating that Mark Cueto is now a specialist full-back and that he will use Josh Lewsey on the wing, Ashton has selected Lewsey at full-back and on the wing – perhaps another clue that the England coach doesn’t have a clue?

Tom Rees has dropped out of the 22 altogether, despite being the only specialist openside in England’s squad; Joe Worsley starts there instead with Martin Corry on the blindside. 

At Number 8, Nick Easter retains his place over Lawrence Dallaglio, despite Ashton’s inclination to alternate the two – Easter played against Wales, then Dallaglio against France, then Easter, then Dallaglio, then Easter again – so this week’s team is a small triumph for those that favour consistency in selection.

Let’s hope we see some adventure in attack behind our massive pack of forwards.  With Tonga beating Samoa, we now have two crucial matches to qualify for the quarter-finals, and the Samoans could cause us problems if we can’t cross the tryline.

2 thoughts on “Wilkinson and Barkley return to face Samoa

  1. So the names have come out of Ashton’s “selection tombola” then? (Or can anyone else offer a better explanation as to how he picks his teams?)

    So Worsley’s playing because he tackles a lot? Fair point, but what about after we tackle them? Could we have a go at turning the ball over? Tom Rees is good at forcing turnovers, need I say more? Is there no other way to get Worsley in the team than at the expense of Rees (who is playing OK in a struggling team, and is young enough to be around in 2011)?

    No, let’s keep Corry in for his lineout ability – are the Samoans that great at lineouts that we need 3 strong options at the expense of Rees’s foraging at the breakdown?

    In November 2002 we played Australia at HQ and started with 12 of the 15 that appeared against them a year later in the RWC final? Two of the differences were down to injury (Woodman out, Lol only fit enough for the bench) – only Lewsey emerged late on to become a first team regular. Oh for stability!

    I think NZ pretty much knew their best XV (and probably the bench) a year before this RWC too. Ashton and Ford have said in the last few weeks that they are still figuring out some players now!

    I just hope we can scrape a win, and that nobody gets on the wrong end of a tackle from “The Chiropractor”! Did you see that “tackle” (if you can call it that) against SA?!

  2. I have stopped trying to apply reason to anything to do with English rugby anymore – training/selection/tactics/motivation – as i cannot fathom any of it.
    From the moment I screamed at the TV with incredulity when we had a lock forward trying to chip the SA defence with his left foot I think I also stopped caring. We’ll see whether that is still true when we play Samoa…..

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