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 Vunipola||1||Scott Sio|
|Jamie George||2||Tolu Latu|
|Kyle Sinckler||3||Allan Alaalatoa|
|Maro Itoje||4||Izack Rodda|
|Courtney Lawes||5||Rory Arnold|
|Tom Curry||6||David Pocock|
|Sam Underhill||7||Michael Hooper|
|Billy Vunipola||8||Isi Naisarani|
|Ben Youngs||9||Will Genia|
|Owen Farrell||10||Christian Lealiifano|
|Jonny May||11||Marika Korobeite|
|Manu Tuilagi||12||Samu Kerevi|
|Henry Slade||13||Jordan Petaia|
|Anthony Watson||14||Reece Hodge|
|Elliot Daly||15||Kurtley Beale|
|Luke Cowan-Dickie||16||Jordan Uelese|
|Joe Marler||17||James Slipper|
|Dan Cole||18||Taniela Tupou|
|George Kruis||19||Adam Coleman|
|Lewis Ludlam||20||Lukhan Salakaia-Loto|
|Willi Heinz||21||Nic White|
|George Ford||22||Matt Toomua|
|Jonathan Joseph||23||James 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?