Youthful England ready for Argentina

Freddie Burns

The announcement of England’s squad for their summer tour of Uruguay and Argentina has been eagerly awaited for some time now, and although it sat well and truly in the shadow of the British and Irish Lions squad announcement last week, it’s an important tour for English rugby. Any tour by one of the home nations that falls on a Lions’ year will always be developmental to a certain level, but the grumbles about Stuart Lancaster’s increasingly conservative squad selection towards the end of the Six Nations should be quietened, at least temporarily, with his latest selection boasting a number of young and dynamic players.

A total of 11 uncapped players have been selected with Rob Buchanan, Calum Clark, Matt Kvesic, Ed Slater, Henry Thomas and Billy Vunipola representing the forwards, whilst Kyle Eastmond, Jonny May, Joel Tomkins, Christian Wade and Marland Yarde all join England’s contingent of backs. Their inclusions will help breathe fresh life into English rugby, particularly those in the centres and wings, where much of the criticism fell on Lancaster towards the end of the Six Nations. In the forwards, Thomas and Vunipola will both hope to use the tour as a platform to challenge England incumbents Dan Cole and Ben Morgan for places in future England squads, with the elder pair having faced little competition thus far in their international careers.

Whilst youth is the theme of the squad, several more seasoned heads have been included in the touring party, including Mike Brown, Alex Corbisiero, Ben Foden, Tom Johnson, and the squad’s captain, Tom Wood. With Chris Robshaw being rested this summer, it gives Lancaster the perfect opportunity to see how Wood steps up to the added responsibilities of captaining the international side. Robshaw has done a great job as England captain over the last year, but it was only arguably an injury to Wood last year which allowed Robshaw the opportunity, with fans and media alike expecting Wood to be named the next long-term England captain prior to the autumn internationals. This summer he will get his chance to lay down a claim for the mantle.

Alongside Robshaw, Chris Ashton, Brad Barritt, Danny Care and Toby Flood have also all been rested, whilst James Haskell has not been considered on medical grounds. This provides the perfect opportunity for the likes of Freddie Burns and Billy Twelvetrees to push themselves further up the international pecking order. With Burns the only out-and-out fly-half in the squad, it is possible that Twelvetrees or Alex Goode will be used as the backup fly-half, but shortens the odds considerably on Burns starting all three games at 10.

Exeter Chiefs’ fans may feel slightly disgruntled with the squad given their excellent end of season form, as Johnson is their only representative on the tour, and continues the recent tradition England have shown of largely ignoring the Devon-based club, and even the inclusion of the club’s head coach Rob Baxter in the tour’s coaching staff doesn’t seem enough to buck this trend. London Wasps’ trio Elliot Daly, Joe Simpson and Tom Varndell as well may count themselves unlucky, having enjoyed great seasons and also missed out on selection.

Everyone on the plane will be heading out to South America with something to prove, but certain individuals can take big steps forward in their international careers with good performances. If tighthead prop Thomas can impress against the notorious Argentinean front row, then he could well catapult himself above David Wilson in the pecking order, with the Bath prop failing to really push Cole for his place in the XV in recent years. Worcester openside Kvesic is another whose international ambitions could be furthered with a series of good performances, especially if Wood excels in his role as captain, and potentially challenges Robshaw for the long-term title.

Outside of the pack, rugby league converts Kyle Eastmond and Joel Tomkins will be keen to show they can replicate the potential they have shown at club level, on the international scene, and offer an alternative to the sledgehammer approach of England’s current centre pairing. One of the most talked about men in rugby in recent weeks, Wade will want to lay down a marker and show he has the abilities to play at the highest level, both offensively and defensively, but knows he will be pushed hard by the other young wingers in the squad, May and Yarde.

People will quibble about a selection here and there in the squad, but it has generally been well received. There is a nice blend of youth and experience, and arguably any more uncapped players in the squad would have caused a void in leadership, something which could be disastrous against a perennially underestimated Argentinean side. Only time will tell how many of these players feature again once the Lions heavyweights are back in the England camp, but Lancaster has shown enough in this selection to ward off those critiques of him being conservative, even if it is with a helping hand from Warren Gatland and the Lions.

by Alex Shaw (@alexshawsport)

Their are rumours that Will Fraser was not considered for the tour because of a shoulder injury that requires surgery.

56 thoughts on “Youthful England ready for Argentina

  1. I think it will be interesting. Argentina are a very good side, one that can compete at the highest level. It could really affect some of the younger players international ambitions if they were to be brutally exposed down there.

    It can only be a good thing for England, as they are getting the chance to see who can cut and who can’t; I personally can’t wait to see the outcome!

    1. completely agree. a lot of these young pretenders will fly home with plenty of questions answered about them.

      we will see if we have some more international players, or some who end up as good club players.
      This is a pretty decent article. and most interestingly it raises the point that in 03 england had about 30-32 names that they could choose from for each test. This is the level that england need to strive for, at the moment we do currently have about 22-25 names that we seem to rotate with.

    2. Its going to be a very interesting tour, I often feel with the centers its important to have a ‘bruiser’ in the mould of tuiliagi and one with flair such as twelvetwees and giteau. The forwards generally pick themselves, I would argue had morgan and corbisiero been fit all SN, they would of made the lions squad. Looking forward to seeing Kvesic, heard great things about him and he could be england’s version of pocock, mccaw and warburton.

      My starting XV would be:

    3. I agree Jacob, theres been a lot of talk regarding players with the ‘xfactor’ in the backs, but what people are forgetting is argentina possess one of the best packs in world rugby.

  2. Aren’t’ England playing four games? The Barbarians, the “South America XV”, and the two test matches? Which “Three matches” are you talking about?

    And does anyone know which of those will be capped matches? Obviously the two test matches – are any of the other two?

    1. Just to clarify, the three matches on the tour. The squad to play the Barbarians will be influenced by whoever makes it to the Premiership final, and could even required players to be drafted up who aren’t currently in the squad. For this reason I didn’t really mention it, as well as it being uncapped…although in all likelihood, so will the match against the South America XV.

      1. plus the Baa Baas game is at Twickenham, so technically not on tour… (if one is to be a bit precise)

  3. It is an exciting squad. Interesting that it has taken Tomkins and Eastmond two seasons to break into the (Lionsless) England squad, especially in the context of Folau possibly being picked for the Wallabies after less than 10 union games!

    My starting XV would be:


    – bench with the likes of the uncapped Vunipola & Eastmond

    As well as the side’s development it’s crucial for Lancaster’s. He’s doing a fine job but his one major flaw is that he needs to start picking people in their correct positions – hence Foden and Brown should be considered just for the full back spot, Lawes as a lock and Wood only as a flanker (not a number 8).

    1. Same starting line up for me, with the exception of starting the ~20 stone Wilson ahead of the ~17.5 stone Thomas. Start with the hard scrummaging units and bring on the running units later.

      Lancaster’s comments about taking a look at Goode as a 10 seem to suggest the experiments aren’t over yet!

      1. Since when did size matter for scrummaging? Domingo is a small guy and he’s a train in the scrum

        1. Domingo is massive! 5’8″ squared. 110kg is huge for someone of that height.

          A good big prop is better than a good small prop. Our tight 5 was too small in the 6N and we were overpowered by the Welsh. The advancing Welsh scrum sent the crowd bonkers, Argentina will be even more hostile environment and we must match them in the scrum. So I would rather start with the big scrummaging units and bring on the faster smaller props for impact.

          1. I don’t think that is strictly true.

            Sheridan was often undone by props smaller than him as they used to get underneath him and force him up. Ref. Vickery vs the Beast in the Lions as well

            BTW – Marler is the same height as Jones and only 7 kilos lighter, Cole taller than Jenkins and 5 kilos lighter.

            The biggest difference in the front row was at Hooker where Hibbard outweighed Youngs by 12 kilos

            The Welsh second row was only 6 kilos heavier

            There were 3 differences in the front 5 over that game

            1. Technique. Marler and Cole got done here
            2. The event. England were cowed, Wales were lifted
            3. The referee :)

          2. When I totalled it up a while ago Wales were 30 kg up on us in the tight 5 (took all the stats from the ESPN profiles). Look at the recent comments from McCall about facing Cleremont last year, giving away 40 kg across the 8 was a big power disadvantage and something they identified they had to address to compete.

            Agree size/strength isn’t the only variable, technique is more important. Height/having a long back can be a big disadvantage and the shorter guys can exert more force if they get an advantageous position. But if technique is comparable it is the stronger guy who will come out on top.

            My opinion is putting a young 17.5 stone tighthead, who is part of the one of the weakest premiership scrums, in against the nation most renound for their scrummaging is a big risk. Much safer to start with Wilson and try Thomas off the bench.

    2. i would think that part of the slower development process for eastmond and tomkins is due to the fact that we have 12 teams to choose from in the Prem, while in Aus they only field 5 teams. This means that there is a wider pool of players available to england, and therefore they can afford to let players develop a bit more.

      Another matter that may have contributed is the positional changes of the players.
      Folau was a wing/centre in League. He is now playing fullback, and although this is a difference, his stint in AFL will have helped develop his kicking and catching skills. This means that the only aspects he really had to develop was his rucking/mauling and honing the positional play (something that won’t have come too hard for a former wing).

      Tomkins was a 2nd row forward in League, and now he plays as a centre. Obviously we have seen this move before (SBW). But even Sonny took time plying his trade in france before he really made it big in union. Tomkins will have had to have done lots of learning of rules and techniques. The majority of Tomkins’ first season was spent learning the rules of the game, if memory serves me correctly.

      Eastmond was a standoff in league. what i understand to be the equivalent of a flyhalf in union. to my knowledge he is yet to play 10 for bath. He has however bounced around all other positions in the bath backline, before (it seems) finally settling in at 12. this lack of a nailed down position will have made it more difficult to get a good gauge on him, as well as knowing where he would actually fit in an england squad. i also understand it that eastmond spend most of his first season with bath on the sideline, out injured. this will have obviously slowed things down as well.

      So all in all, it has definitely taken Tomkins and Eastmond longer to break into the national set up, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Too often we have seen league converts rushed into the national set up, simply to fall short (Farrell Snr and Vainikolo seem like the most prominent examples).

      Who knows, Deans could be moving a little too fast for Folau, or he could be ready now. time will tell. but from an english point of view, i think it was better to be safe than sorry with our lads. and like i said, we have had the alternatives available. with the way things are going in Aus (O’Connor looking set to play 10, as Cooper is being overlooked, and Beale having issues) Folau and Mogg may need to be called on, as there may be no other options. (interesting that Mogg is actually also a newly converted league man – but he played union at school).

    3. I think you have pretty much got the 1st XV nailed on apart from at tight head. David Wilson has been bullying looseheads all year and has upped his work rate in the loose (his only weakness) I think he will start with his experience in Arg.

  4. No one was expecting Wood to be named Captain prior the Autumn Internationals and it’ll be a second string Pumas side – something no one on here seems to have mentioned.
    Bring back Nick Heath please!

    1. Hadn’t heard we were facing a second string Argentina, where did you get that info from?

    2. No, not before the Autumn, before the 6N.
      They had already done all of the press photos apparently, it was only his injury (which at the time was possibly career ending) that stopped it.

      1. I don’t recall where i read it (or possibly, heard it), but I understand that Argentina will not bring back their Europe-based players for the England games.

        So it is not their B-team per se, but the reality is that the majority of their Test starters do play in Europe.

    3. I’ve got to say, I read numerous articles which had Wood nailed on for captaincy back before last years 6 nations, it was only injury that kept him out of it.

  5. Joel Tomkins is shite. Never done anything to outshine his brother Sam.

    I’ve admired Kyle Eastmond as a league player, despite him playing for saints, so I’m looking forward to see how he develops out here.

    If strettle gets a start I won’t be happy.

    1. Tomkins is a bad player because his brother is better?

      Well someone tell Dave Kearney to hang up his boots. We had also pick only one of the Youngs and one of the Vunipola brothers, as the other one is “shite” according to your logic…

      Just because one brother is better doesnt mean that he is an awful player. Also, if you hadnt noticed, they are now playing different codes. Despite the similar names, Rugby League and Rugby Union are actually pretty different. After all, the great Andy Farrell was nothing special in union…

      1. I’m sorry, I failed to explain myself clearly. I meant it the other way round 1. He is shite and as a result 2. He has never done anything to outshine his brother Sam.

        Your point about Union and league being different. I am well aware of that , having played and watched both. However, If he’s not a good league player (which I firmly held that he wasn’t: nothing special, more pack stuffing then anything else), then he won’t become a good union player after two years of playing simply because union is “different”

        Before the misinterpretation gets out of hand, I will also add that my usage of “shite” is relative. For rugby league at the highest level, he was shite. He failed his job as a second row, ie to physically dominate the opposition, and only got by because he had pace. And added to that, he couldn’t catch, couldn’t pass properly. Australia would’ve mauled him, and New Zealand would’ve mauled him. He was not an international rugby league quality second row, and I doubt he would ever have become one.

        However, seeing how deficient England is of quality centres, I expect he’ll get welcomed like a breath of fresh air. How nice.

        1. well as you have eluded to, Tomkins has made the move from 2nd row to centre. So he is now in a position where his pace is more important. Also he has clearly developed his passing and offloading, as these are two of the major reasons he is being consider.

          As a 2nd row in league, i can understand that he may not have been the best. But he is now a centre in union, and from what i can see, he has actually been pretty useful so far. and with the right development he can get better.

        2. I’ve got to say, from the Saracens games I’ve seen, he’s been solid, very little gets passed him, he can pass off of both hands and pass out of the tackle. Personally I think your assumption that because he isn’t international stand now means he will never be is a bit harsh. For someone playing in a completely different position for 18 months, I think the kid deserves his call up.

        3. Ael, your reasoning around your view of Tomkins as a league player is interesting, and rather than dwell on it as a negative, it rather suggests that he has made a good choice in switching to Union.

          It appears as if he was not suited, at the top level, to League which I would suggest is more reflective of the differences in the positions and the way the games are played rather than a reflection on the player or the two games in general.

          1. I admit, I don’t watch much union club rugby. Mabye his decision was right. I don’t know. But it’s a pretty solid indicator of his attacking prowess if he’s playing centre for the premiership side most renowned for its free flowing entertaining rugby… *cough cough*

            More seriously, I’d say that if he gets the shirt ahead of Kyle, it’d be a serious tragedy. And you have no idea how, as a wigan fan complimenting a saints player, it pains me to say it.

    2. You can get the majority of an amazing team out of the the Whitelock, Pisi and Tuilagi families, so how good someone’s brother is isn’t too relevatnt.

  6. Think there are three players in this squad who could potentially start the tests in the Autummn.
    1- Wade. Obvious one given the probable vacant spot on one of the wings. May not far behind but Yarde probably needs another season under his belt.

    2- Twelvetrees. Barritt whilst getting better in attack, is not the best foil for our best back in Tuilagi. Twelvetrees more importantly, is a better foil for Farrell than Barritt aswell. The Scotland game is evidence of that. Having your 15 as a second distributor is fairly limited as he won’t always be there as an option to Farrell.

    3- Attwood. Runs the lineout for Bath this season which is a key attribute seeing as Parling is the only other option in the EPS for this. Really impressed for Bath this year, recognised by his Player of the Season award.

    Not sure Kvesic would be ready to face the ABs and Aus this autumn so may need another good season with Gloucester, so I would expect Robshaw to keep his place, although I would keep Wood as captain. I fully expect Youngs, Cole, Youngs, Farrell and Tuilagi to regain their spots after the Lions tour.

    1. I would say that Attwood will be too far down the pecking order. He is probably fourth choice on this tour behind Launchbury, Lawes and Slater surely? With Parling to come back in and Croft into the back row to supplement the line out; Attwood probably won’t get the chance.

      I would say that Wood has the most important tour. He has the chance to not just displace Robshaw as captain, but from the team. When Croft is back he is likely to come back in at 6, or at least will be strongly considered. Wood can play 7, and may do so on this tour with Clark at 6.

      1. Although I think it is highly likely that we will see Clark and Wood as the flankers, I really hope that we don’t.

        This has to be an opportunity to look at a genuine openside at 7. For me Kvesic is as nailed on a starter as Wood, because of that reason.

        Also I recall reading somewhere that the 7 shirt will be competed for by Kvesic and Johnson, which would give the impression that Wood is staying at 6. Obviously the source for that article would need to be known, but it doesn’t seem too long a shot. Although, again we are looking at another 6 (Johnson) filling into the 7 role. Personally I would have taken Luke Wallace over Johnson or Clark. And had Fraser been fit, he would have travelled too.

        1. Sort of agree regarding Kvesic; but if I am honest, I haven’t seen a great deal of him. Hopefully he will get the chance to do so this summer.

          It is a real shame that Fraser is injured; for me I would love to have seen him start out in Argentina, he has looked fantastic this season!

          SL seems to be a massive fan of Clarke, and for that reason I have a horrible feeling that he will play.

          1. It would of been very interesting to see fraser in the squad has he not succumb to injury, him vs kvesic for the no.7. Although Lancaster rates clark i very much doubt he will start him.

      2. Dave, you raise an interesting point about “running” the lineout. Perhaps SL is looking to develop Launchbury / Lawes in that area ?? But if Attwood’s not there for lineout then the balance looks wrong. Slater’s a good guy but adds value in covering back row (Kitchener would have been better option for lineout ?). Anyway, looking forward to seeing our lineout without Parling, Croft and Robshaw ;-)

        1. Interesting point.

          I saw a while back that SL was at a wasps game. He had a word with young before the game. Later wentzel came off at about 50mins, and launchbury was given 30mins to run the lineout. I think he is the guy that England will look to in the longer run. He has a pretty decent rugby brain, which definitely helps with the lineout.

  7. How are Argentina taking the idea of England coming down with a 2nd (or 3rd?) choice squad? Not England’s fault of course – Lions and the need to rest guys who have been going non-stop since the world cup – but havn’t Argentina moved up from the “team we play during a Lions tour so we can develop” level? Wales are going to Japan with a bunch of youngsters and that seems the right level but Arg could spank England here and that wouldn’t be good for anyone?

    1. Completely agree Brighty. I have mentioned in an earlier comment that this is a very tough test for Englands youngsters, one that may make or break a few England careers.

      I don’t think Argentina can complain, they knew this would be the case when they agreed on the tour dates this summer.

      1. By the sounds of it, Argentina will be resting a lot of front line players for the 4Ns.

        Even if that isn’t the case, I still prefer England going to play someone like Argentina. If these young lads can’t cut it against Argentina, then we know that they will struggle in test rugby. My idea of a development tour isn’t to give some young lads a couple caps against a 3rd tier nation. A development tour is to find out if the young lads can hack it at the top level.

    2. We’ll learn more about the players in Argentina than you will about players in Japan. Tour of Hell to Aus laid the foundations (bizarrely) for a very talented group of English players to emerge. We will at least find out who can cut it and who can’t.

      1. I partly agree but you have to have some balance – to take it to an extreme you wouldn’t play the U20s against the full NZ side as it wouldn’t tell you anything you didn’t already know (too early) and could be damaging to the players involved.

        I think you do need some care in approaching a players development to ensure you don’t break him or all you learn is that right now these players are not good enough to play against Arg – which isn’t the only goal of a development tour.

        I was sort of wondering about it from the other side though – what do Arg think? Though as others have said they knew the score and hence look like they will also be using it for development. So that answers my query.

        I disagree about the Japan tour as it depends what sort of team you are taking – Wales’ team is almost all uncapped and/or young boys. So we’ll learn what they’re like as tourists, who can’t hack the pressure of simply wearing the jersey, who blossoms outside their club and who wilts, etc. All without the added pressure of playing a top-level side that even our first XV would struggle against – which brings me full circle to Arg. They will not be a pushover if at full strength and in fact I’d expect them to take a 2nd/3rd choice England side to the cleaners at home if they play their first choice side.

        1. i entirely agree regarding Wales going to Japan. They have lost 15 of their first choice players to the lions. and to add to that they also have left out (or people are injured) names like Charteris, Hook, Ryan Jones, Jonathan Thomas, Matthew Rees, Lee Byrne, Peel, Paul James. There are other young lads like Tovey, Bishop, Eli Walker, Samson Lee and Kristian Phillips who have all been involved (or close to) with wales before, who arent touring. So for Wales Japan is the right choice.

          England on the other hand still have guys like Corbs, Marler, Wilson, Launchbury, Lawes, Wood, Morgan, Dickson, Burns, Joseph, Twelvetrees, Strettle, Brown, Foden and Goode (lets refrain from the Goode debate for now). These are all members of the EPS from the 6Ns, a team who went close to a grand slam. if these experienced guys can’t at least run argentina close, then they shouldnt be involved with england.

          Also, as a few guys have said, i dont know whether Argentina will actually be the “development” games as much as you suggest. England have the Baa Baas and the Consura XV to play as well. I am guessing that a few of the more experienced players will feature in the test, with younger lads on the bench.

          Basically, England and Wales are in very different positions right now. Wales have had to call new faces, because so many are with the lions. England on the other hand are pulling in new faces, because certain players failed to step up during the 6Ns. Performances from some people were poor well before the Welsh game, and that pushed for a few people to be “rested”.

        2. I just don’t see your point really. In the scrum we have one first choice front row and one second choice. Regular England locks, and 2 out of 3 starting back row players. That doesn’t look like an u20 or even B team to me. Backline looks lighter on caps, but the fight in S America will be up front mainly. Still got some experienced heads in the backline and some very talented players. Wales lost far more players to the Lions and probably don’t have the same strength in depth due to less player numbers so your tour to Japan is probably sensible. I think ours to Argentina is also sensible.

          1. Staggy, that is fair enough. As Simo also pointed out, this isn’t the same story as Wales. I’ll admit I took the heading and my large ignorance of non-first-choice English rugby players (I only watch their international matches and some of their HC matches) and made a 5 out of two 2s – I assumed it was a young development team much like ours.

            Agree on strength in depth also – our first XV is comparable with anyone’s but England’s 2nd XV would probably tonk our 2nd XV.

          2. We will probably be fielding a bigger tight 5 than the 6N and probably a better balanced back row as well, so think we will be competitive upfront.

            Next summer we are off to NZ, so this is our last opportunity to take a look at some young talent in any significant numbers this world cup cycle. Ability to break the gainline, dominate the breakdown, midfield creativity and back 3 pace/finishing are all problems the uncapped players may solve so think they are the right set of players to be looking at.

            Argentina is a tough test, but I think it is the right level of test to determine if they can cut it or not. Shame it’s not a 3 test series really.

          3. brighty, i agree that an english 2nd team would probably thump a welsh 2nd team, in principal.

            the depth in some of these english clubs is getting pretty impressive. Leicester currently have a selection of locks of whom 3 are fully capped internationals (2 England 1 tonga), and the other two are Saxons. that is just one example of some of the depth arising here.

            With the state of the welsh game (players leaving for France because the regional system is not working) the depth is reducing further.

            However, as i said, i would agree in principal. this is for 2 reasons.
            Firstly, the saxons lost to Scotland A this year, so clearly depth isnt everything. and also, we all know that it doesnt matter who is in your team, its who plays better on the day.
            and secondly. With Wales having less depth in their regional squads, you actually get guys playing a lot more rugby, instead of being rotated each week. this can have quite an impact.

            I have significantly reduced the amount of Rabo rugby i watch recently, so i cant comment too much. But i think that there are actually a few decent players coming through for Wales.
            Jason Tovey has always come across as a skillful player. Rhys Patchell looks pretty useful too. There was a handy flanker for the Dragons (his name escapes me, but it isnt Lydiate ;P). Ashley Beck looks handy too. the lists can go on.

            I think one of the biggest problems for Wales is actually the lack of depth at national level. Apart from when a player is injured, Wales seem to always pick the exact same team (mainly backs, there is a bit more variation in the pack), regardless of form. this strikes me as a pretty conservative, and possibly short sighted move by the coaches. sure, the welsh team are all actually pretty young, but this plan is not very sustainable.

            So you can be sure that Phillips will play 9, with either Williams or Knoyle on the bench. Priestland, Biggar and Hook will all vie for the 10 or 22 shirts. Roberts and Davies will play 12 and 13. Scott Williams will provide cover from 23. Liam Williams will be a possible 23 man too. North and Cuthbert on the wings, and Halfpenny at 15.

            Outside of those names, i dont think that i have seen another welsh back (excluding a chance Beck had a year or two ago) in the team for some time.

            overall, this has damaged the depth that wales could have, imo. they should look to try and drop guys who are out of form, to give another guy a shot. and they could maybe look at rotating the squad a bit more, to blood some new players.
            I would have hoped, had not all of the welsh 1st team gone on the lions, that a number of them would have been rested. similar to what england have done. i think that this gives them time to recharge before the world cup, lets the management have a look at new lads, and also makes the welsh system a bit more sustainable. unfortunately the lions has come at the wrong time. I do hope that the Japan tour brings some new options out, and that they do get the chance to develop a wider squad.

            as we have learnt, you need about 30 players of similar standards if you want to win a world cup, so that is what all teams should strive for.

  8. Whilst there are lots of interesting players here, I think we’ll still see a relatively conservative team selection with the interesting guys on the bench

    Below is the team I reckon Lancaster will pick followed by who I’d pick

    Corb. / Corb.
    Webber / Buchanan
    Wilson / Thomas
    Launchbury / Launchbury
    Lawes / Slater
    Clark / Wood
    Wood / Ksevic
    Morgan / Morgan
    Wigglesworth / Dickson
    Burns / Burns
    12T / 12T
    Joseph / Tomkins
    Strettle / Yarde
    Brown / Wade
    Goode / Brown

    Clark is an interesting one. If he’s got over his discipline and anger issues then I think he could be a destructive blind-side flanker. The downside though is that playing him means playing Wood at open-side and I’d much rather see Ksevic there.

    Can Clark play lock as well? If so, perhaps he’d be a good bench option

    1. I like your team, looks good to me. Although I think I would go for may over yarde.

      Clark can play lock. In fact I have seen him play in all back 5 positions of the scrum. He was an England u19 8, and u20 7 and captain. He also played 7 for Leeds.

    2. It would surprise me is Wade didn’t start. Lancaster was complimentary about his comparison to Robinson, so I am certain he will give him a cap in one of the 2 tests, as now is as good a time as any to see if he can step up.

      Also I can’t see Goode at 15 if Twelvetrees starts at 12 as the argument for a second playmaker becomes a bit of a moot point, especially as Burns is a much better playmaker than Farrell is. I can see the backline being Dickson, Burns, Strettle, Twelvetrees, Tomkins, Wade, Brown

    3. picking thomas to start against the Puma’s is suicidal, the lad has not played a single minute of international rugby. I would start wilson and bring thomas on for the last 20minutes.

  9. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a lot of changes between each Test – irrespective of the result in the first. For example I would expect to see both Dickson and Wigglesworth start, same with the hookers and No8’s also.

    1. A good point that. I’m sure you’re right

      As for May or Yarde. Yarde to me just seems to have that extra bit of vision and pace. I might be wrong but he has scored some fantastic tries this year.

      1. Brian smith is definitely a Yarde fan. He said he is a better player than Ashton. Initially I brushed that off, but then realised that smith worked with Ashton a lot while an England coach.

        I would be pretty happy with either on the wing. Both are proven finishers. I think that May has good footballing skills, possibly due to his time spent in the centre and at fullback. A wing with very good passing and kicking skills adds an extra dimension in attack, imo.

        1. I agree in regards to May – he has a great skill set. If you look at the Aussie back line, they are so dangerous because they are all great ball players.

          Yarde for me is furthest down the pecking order; and Brian Smith suggesting that he is better than Ashton was no more than a confidence boost for his own player, imo.

  10. I think if you were to blend the six nations squad with this one it would be interesting to see the following line-up:

    1. A. Corbisero
    2. T. Youngs
    3. D. Cole
    4. G. Parling
    5. E. Slater
    6. T. Wood
    7. C. Robshaw
    8. B. Morgan

    9. B. Youngs
    10. O. Farrell
    11. J. May
    12. B. Twelvetrees
    13. M. Tuilagi
    14. C. Ashton
    15. M. Brown

    16. D. Hartley
    17. M. Vunipola
    18. D. Wilson
    19. J. Launchbury
    20. T. Croft
    21. D. Care
    22. F. Burns
    23. B. Foden

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