RWC 2019: England v Australia Combined XV

Analysing the two teams for Saturday’s big game, how many Australian players would you select for England?

Here’s a Combined XV for discussion – let me know what changes you would make.

Mako Vunipola1Scott Sio
Jamie George2Tolu Latu
Kyle Sinckler3Allan Alaalatoa
Maro Itoje4Izack Rodda
Courtney Lawes5Rory Arnold
Tom Curry6David Pocock
Sam Underhill7Michael Hooper
Billy Vunipola8Isi Naisarani
Ben Youngs9Will Genia
Owen Farrell10Christian Lealiifano
Jonny May11Marika Korobeite
Manu Tuilagi12Samu Kerevi
Henry Slade13Jordan Petaia
Anthony Watson14Reece Hodge
Elliot Daly15Kurtley Beale
Luke Cowan-Dickie16Jordan Uelese
Joe Marler17James Slipper
Dan Cole18Taniela Tupou
George Kruis19Adam Coleman
Lewis Ludlam20Lukhan Salakaia-Loto
Willi Heinz21Nic White
George Ford22Matt Toomua
Jonathan Joseph23James O’Connor

I’m feeling a bit more confident of an English win having been through the lineups like this, but I’m sure there are some that could be argued the other way.

I don’t see anyone in the front five for Australia that I’d select over their English counterpart, but this assumes that we are comparing a fully-fit Mako to Scott Sio, and I have my doubts about that.

In the back row, David Pocock and Michael Hooper are without peer as a double-act on the flanks, although Tom Curry and Sam Underhill will look to combine in a similar way for England.

In the backs, Marika Korobeite and Samu Kerevi are Australia’s best players, but I’d still select Jonny May and Manu Tuilagi, whilst Kurtley Beale would have been selected on form a couple of years ago, but now he looks more like a liability than an asset. But, he’s the sort of player that can conjure some magic from nowhere and break open a tight game.

England’s bench is usually a strength, but Dan Cole and George Kruis aren’t real impact players, and even Ford v Toomua and Joseph v O’Connor could be argued the other way, so let’s hope England have a sufficient lead that the bench is brought on to close the game out rather than needing to effect change and chase down a points deficit.

What also struck me in doing this is how similar the teams are in terms of setup – the two 7s in the back row alongside a ball-carrying Number 8, scrum-halves whose best days are behind them, direct-running monsters facing off at 12 and full-backs who prefer playing at centre.

What do you think? Which selections do you disagree with?

12 thoughts on “RWC 2019: England v Australia Combined XV

  1. I love this. Suddenly feeling a lot more confident about this game.

    Do you know what – I would actually take Curry & Underhill over Hooper & Pocock, and that really is saying something.

    Genia v Youngs – actually they’re both going through a similar process of becoming more cumbersome. Genia also has this habit of taking too many steps before releasing the ball – hopefully he’ll get munched by Underhill/Lawes/Curry if he buggers about like that, although I can’t see Youngs or anyone else really “doing a Davies” and intercepting.

    Finishers:
    Heinz > White
    Kruis > Coleman
    Don’t know enough about Salakaia-Loto, but Ludlam will bring a lot of energy.

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  2. The Pooper has been utterly ineffectual so far this tournament and the main reason for that is it was never about Pooper it was Fardy Pooper that was truely great

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    1. I recall before England went and whitewashed Aus in their own back yard & in the AIs few years back the pundits said Haskell and Robshaw would get embarrased by Hooper/Pcock/Fardy but the opposite happened. I think that was the best I have seen Haskell play in an England shirt in that period, he was like a man possessed.

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      1. True Haskell was playing the enforcer role better than anyone knew was possible (even Haskell’s ego would have been surprised)

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  3. Good article. Have my usual pessimistic mindset but quietly hoping for a big win!! I wonder if Underhill/Curry might show the Aussie back row up tomoz; think it will be a hell of a battle at the breakdown!

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  4. Fantasy. It’s about how a TEAM plays, it’s coherence, not just about individuals. Wrong mindset, or selling column inches stuff. Another take on this; how many Englishmen would Hansen pick for the AB’s? May, or may not (?) be relevant.

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  5. I’m late to this one having just enjoyed that England showing, but I’m surprised at the Coleman over Kruis call. Not sure what Coleman’s ever done to demonstrate he’s better.

    1. The article was entirely relevant, and interesting. Maybe this week we’ll see a combined NZ/England team article, and that will be relevant. What won’t be is someone chipping in at that point asking how may South Africans would get in. What’s that got to do with it?

      1. What do you think JK? The article picks almost an entirely an English team. Written presumably by an Eng’man, doesn’t it strike you as a tad subjective? You know, the English ‘talking’ up the English.. again? That’s what I mean. Obviously went over yr head though, like my point about individuals as opposed to a team. Anyway, you seem a bit defensive. Perhaps you were you a bit stressed at the time.

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