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.