Rugby World Cup 2019: England Team To Play New Zealand

Eddie Jones

England men’s head coach Eddie Jones has named his team to play New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup 2019 semi-final at Yokohama Stadium (KO 5pm local time, 9am UK time).

Captain Owen Farrell is named at inside centre with George Ford selected at fly half and Manu Tuilagi at outside centre.

Billy Vunipola will play in his 50th Test match for England with Sam Underhill and Tom Curry also named in the back row.

Jonny May will start on the left wing with Anthony Watson named on the right and Elliot Daly at fullback.

Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes are named in the second row while Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler make up the front row.

Jones said: “Preparation has been good this week after a solid win against Australia. When you get to this stage of the World Cup it is all about focusing on being in the moment and getting yourself physically right.

“The squad has approached the game well with real maturity. It has helped having players here who have been on the Lions tour and played against New Zealand. They have been involved in some of the biggest games in world rugby so this semi-final won’t phase them.

“New Zealand is a great team, they have an impressive winning record since the last Rugby World Cup. Like any good team, you have to take away time and space from them and you have to find areas you can pressure them. We believe we have identified a number of areas where we can do that.”

Jones added on Vunipola’s 50th cap: “It is a great achievement for Billy to reach 50 Test matches for England and something that is very special for the team. I know his family will be very proud of him and even more so to play the game alongside his brother Mako.”

England starting XV
15 Elliot Daly (Saracens, 37 caps)
14 Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 40 caps)
13 Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 38 caps)
12 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 77 caps) C
11 Jonny May (Leicester Tigers, 50 caps)
10 George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 63 caps)
9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 93 caps)
1 Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 56 caps)
2 Jamie George (Saracens, 43 caps)
3 Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 29 caps)
4 Maro Itoje (Saracens, 32 caps)
5 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 79 caps)
6 Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 17 caps)
7 Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 13 caps)
8 Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 49 caps)

Finishers
16 Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 19 caps)
17 Joe Marler (Harlequins, 66 caps)
18 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 93 caps)
19 George Kruis (Saracens, 39 caps)
20 Mark Wilson (Sale Sharks 16 caps)
21 Willi Heinz (Gloucester Rugby, 8 caps)
22 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 25 caps)
23 Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 45 caps)

20 thoughts on “Rugby World Cup 2019: England Team To Play New Zealand

  1. The only two concerns
    Firstly Lawes over Kruis. NZ have gone for Scott Barrett at 6 to give them an extra lineout jumper so it is clearly an area they will be targeting so would be good to have Kruis running the lineout.
    Secondly two centres on the bench and no back 3 cover. I know JJ can move to the wing if needed but are we really looking to have Slade and JJ in the centres together by the end f the game

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    1. Agree with you Leon about Lawes/Kruis – bit of a worry as NZ’s lineout will be even better now and they dominated us there in the Autumn game when Kruis went off and Barrett came on. On the flip side, it should benefit Curry/Underhill even more – Barrett is good, but he’s a lock not a 6 and will give a slight advantage at the breakdown.
      Not worried about the bench – Nowell still injured and want the experience of JJ there rather than Cokanasiga or McConnachie. Watson can cover 15 (as can Slade).
      Surprised he has gone back to Ford Farrell but happy – think it’s the right call for this game and shows the line-up against Aus was just to negate Kerevi.

      1. Peter O’Mahony got a few lineout steals against the AB’s in an otherwise poor performance from him. Jones has identified that I think with Kruis, who has been better in that department. It’s the logical choice I think but that’s the least of England’s concerns. Should be a great game.

    2. Yes, surprised previous main man Kruis not starting too. Also at lack of wing, f/back cover. Ok if no injuries, but could be problematical if there are. Daly can switch to wing, Watson to F/back, but either way, still leaves 1 of these posi’s exposed with centre 3/4ers off the bench. Still, injury unlikely I suppose. Only a gamble if a back 3 gets crocked.

      1. Point taken but i’ve noticed Nowell wasn’t totally reliable in the 6Ns. He was skinned on the outside against Wales and on a few other occasions (some led to tries). The league style defensive structure could be partly to blame in that 12 and 13 come up fast and flat leaving Nowell to cover the rear quadrant for the kick OTT. I’d just have Cokanasiga on the bench for some explosive attack if Eddie needed to change things up (rather than out of it altogether). Am open to suggestions.

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        1. True there will be an element of defensive structure behind the wings defensive performances but some players seem able to cover more ground defensively and when Nowell makes a tackle he gets back to his feet and competes for the ball which slows the ball for the next phase

  2. I’m happy with that. I’m not surprised to see Lawes in over Kruis. If he can but pressure on the half backs and slow them down even a fraction it could make a huge difference.

    I am frustrated with the Nowell situation. I thought he was fit again now, If not he shouldn’t have been in the side at all. What a waste of an option.

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    1. Yes, I hope we get to see a Lawes Classic on Mo-unga and/or Smuth at some point. Scythe one of them in half early on and put doubt and fear in his mind for the rest of the game. Lovely stuff.

  3. Long time reader, part time poster and England optimist..
    I see why Eddie has opted for the Ford and Farrell combo and I’m pretty happy with it to be fair. This NZ back line isn’t quite as big / powerful as it used to be since they’ve moved to a slightly more agile and creative game so there’s less of a concern over Ford being targeted as there was against Australia with their bigger centres (even though his defence is pretty solid anyway). The advantage is that it provides a double kicking option. I don’t think NZ have been properly tested under the high balls so far in this tournament so I think England will look to put pressure on them in that area with this combination and hopefully pin NZ back in their own half and create opportunities for the increasingly dangerous J May and Watson.
    Having said that, NZ have been very good at kicking for territory themselves so far so it might turn into a bit of a tennis match at times. Especially if they’re looking to avoid too many breakdown battles in their own half with one less specialist flanker in the starting team.
    All makes for a very interesting match but I’m thinking (hoping) England might pinch it. If we don’t win, as long as we play well and push NZ to the very end, I’ll be happy with our performance in this tournament. Can’t wait!

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  4. I had a sneaky feeling that he might put Wilson on the bench which I am glad to see. He’s been a great servant for England and certainly merits this call: He has greater experience than Ludlum and coming on in the second half will do us no harm; Surprised this has not been mentioned by others here and on other blogs: Cant wait

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  5. Am happy with Wilson on the bench. He now has a point to prove and assuming he is given enough time, I want to see him smashing kiwi runners left, right and centre
    Also I want to see Reece and Bridge tested. As mentioned above, they’ve had an easy ride so far and given May and Watson seem to be at the peak of their game this could be fascinating. And come to that, it goes for Barrett as well – for gods sake dont give him time with ball in hand but he missed 3 out of 5 tackles vs Ireland so let’s test him as well
    As mentioned elsewhere I think the selection of Barrett is the reaction of a concerned Kiwi coach and a selection that I think gives us chances so long as we don’t get utterly done at the line-out.
    After last week, EJ has the status of god-like genius with me. Let’s hope he doesn’t lose it…

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  6. did anyone see Ed’s press conference earlier in the week? It was an absolute master class in psychology and how to minimise the pressure on your players.
    On the game itself, I don’t care if we win 6-3 and the ball spends more time in the air than a migrating bird.
    My one big worry is Daly but that’s been the case all through the comp. Come on boys!!

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  7. Just spotted SBW on the bench for NZ. That means Manu may have to do the full 80 because Faz and Slade will struggle to contain him unless by illegal means (shoulders).
    In addition, is the starting midfield mobile and creative enough?

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  8. Acee, you make an interesting point that I confess I don’t know the answer too. What are the positives and negatives of the 2 midfield selections and why is Ford better for this game than Aus? Does Slade or Ford add more starting or from bench? Is there a case that Joseph lateral movement and outside defence makes him more suited to a wide attacking NZ than anyone else so should start?

    1. All we can do is trust in Eddie and the players Stu.
      I was a bit scathing about the team before we beat the Aussies so i’m going to try and adopt a more upbeat tone and say Ed knows what he’s doing!

  9. On average there were around 25 line outs per game in RWC 2003-2015. The numbers for ruck/mauls show around the 180 mark. Granted not all of the 180 are going to be contestable but it’s certainly an area that has potential for two jackals against one.
    The inclusion of Barrett however does bring real concern at the line out. NZ being mindful of the push over try from 15 mtrs during the Autumn perhaps? It certainly indicates that every one will be heavily contested, and potentially indicates an NZ plan to kick to do just that.
    What is with out debate, is if Eng do launch high balls and they undoubtedly will, they have to be chased. Errors come from pressure, and no one is totally immune, not even NZ.

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  10. On balance I want to adopt an upbeat tone and try to enjoy what will no doubt be a brilliant game and trust in EJ.

    The back row selections are fascinating – I don’t think we have forced Hansen into doing anything, he is targeting the breakdown from a physicality point of view. Without the more heavy weight Kruis we are perhaps a bit open there and it worries me that we could get blasted off the ball. EJ has shown a willingness to sub early doors so this may be the case. Re the line out we might lack a bit of height (bar Lawes) but George is an extreme competent line out thrower. What money on one over the top and into a charging Tuilagi at some point, like vs Ireland!?

    I’m so looking forward to this game, I hope it is not blighted by refereeing controversy and one way or another England end up on the right end of the result. My £10 goes on England, my mortgage goes on NZ

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  11. I find myself in the strange situation for a West Country lad in that I actually agree with the “Leicester Lip”,I would also have picked JJ because he is better than Slade defensively and one can expect Barrett to be coming down this channel.
    That being said I can understand EJ in his selection-Its a matter of trade-offs.
    Obviously NZ will want to prevent too many England visits to their red zone as this is an open invitation to Billy,Manu and the rest of the wrecking crew to recreate the Ireland game wherby the ball can go wide due to defenders being sucked in.I am a bit surprised that Ej hasn’t done a punt and included Big Joe on the bench not withstanding his defensive rawness.I know from playing experience how hard it is to stop runners such as Billy and Manu but Big Joe with his size and pace is something out of nightmares.
    Similarly England will hope to keep Barrett quiet with the use of precise kicking.One would imagine there will be a few steeplers going up on Barrett early on with the aim of the ball arriving the same time as Sam and Lawes with the express intention of splattering him.

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