RWC 2019 Warm-up II: England Team to Play Wales

Maro Itoje

England men’s head coach Eddie Jones has named his team to play Wales in Cardiff on Saturday (KO 2:15pm live on Sky Sports).

George Ford will captain the side again following Sunday’s 33-19 win over Wales at Twickenham Stadium.

There are three changes to the starting XV that played last weekend. Maro Itoje is named in the second row while Courtney Lawes will play at blindside flanker with Lewis Ludlam moving to openside. Ruaridh McConnochie will start his first England game after being withdrawn from the team last weekend due to injury.

Owen Farrell, Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler are included in the match day 23 for the first time in this series of matches ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

Jones said: “Our selection strategy for our second game is similar to the first, so a bit of a mix-and-match approach. We are looking at different combinations and have a particular strategy for this game.

“The game is very much about ourselves preparing for the World Cup and we are respectful that we have got such strong opposition at their home ground. We are looking forward to it.

“The squad has been progressing well this week and I think there is a realisation among the squad now that the hard work really starts, nothing has been achieved.”

England starting XV v Wales
15 Elliot Daly (Saracens, 31 caps)
14 Ruaridh McConnochie (Bath Rugby, uncapped)
13 Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 41 caps)
12 Piers Francis (Northampton Saints, 5 caps)
11 Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby, 5 caps)
10 George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 56 caps) C
9 Willi Heinz (Gloucester Rugby, 1 cap)
1 Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 10 caps)
2 Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 12 caps)
3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 86 caps)
4 Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 59 caps)
5 Maro Itoje (Saracens, 27 caps)
6 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 72 caps)
7 Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 1 cap)
8 Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 42 caps)

Finishers
16 Jamie George (Saracens, 37 caps)
17 Joe Marler (Harlequins, 59 caps)
18 Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 22 caps)
19 George Kruis (Saracens, 33 caps)
20 Jack Singleton (Saracens, 1 cap)
21 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 86 caps)
22 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 70 caps)
23 Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 33 caps)

67 thoughts on “RWC 2019 Warm-up II: England Team to Play Wales

      1. Yes, a bit strange; I think if the game is either well won or comfortably inocnlsuive EJ would like to have a look at Sigletone and give him some time.
        Exciting prospect.

      1. ok so the only logic i have managed to come up with to explain this is that Eddie intends to bring Singleton on with 30 seconds to play (like last week) so that on paper it says he has 2 caps when in reality those caps combine for a total of less than 2 mins

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        1. I think last week Singleton came on and LCD moved to the back row.
          I can only assume he wants to try the same thing again!
          Weird decision

          1. Well Jones has talked in the past about playing four back row players – at the time he was referring to potentially playing Jack Nowell as a third flanker. In fact, I believe he did play a four-man back row with japan at the last World Cup. Are the roles of hooker and flanker in open play all that different? Make tackles, hit rucks, clear-out, bit of jackalling. Actually there are a lot of transferable skills.

            Admittedly, I had the same initial reaction as Mike and Leon above, but I am positively intrigued…..

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            1. Sure, there are a lot of transferable skills but as we’ve discussed before (mainly when talking about the silly tendency to play Lawes and Itoje in the back row) at international level, every microsecond counts. And the player who is used to that position, and plays it week in, week out is far more likely to make the correct decision in that microsecond than the makeshift player out of position.
              PS – this is absolutely also an argument for not playing Daly at fullback!!
              By all means have a contingency plan for a hooker to play 8 in a dire emergency. But for god’s sake don’t make it an actual tactic. That way disaster lies

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  1. I have been wondering how much Eddie is scenario planning. What happens if we need to…

    Lawes at 6, Ludlum 7, 2 hookers, Francis…

    Say some point I wouldn’t be surprised to have 4 Locks ion the pitch, with Itoje moving to 8 because what if…

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    1. I think there might be an element in that. We will need to be adaptable at times, so there is some logic in loading the squad with all 4 locks and 3 hookers. On balance, though, I would have preferred a back rower on the bench. Assume Wilson isn’t fit along with Curry and Underhill, but Kvesic has been in camp and there was the option of bringing back Dombrandt.
      Other then that there are some sensible picks. Getting McConnochie into the side makes sense, as does giving further starts to Heinz, Cowan-Dickie, Francis and Ludlam.

  2. Well gotta say i didn’t see that coming
    The starting 15 isn’t so bad trying to give game time to the more raw recruits but the bench is complete chaos.

  3. Still trying to shoe horn four good locks into the match day squad. Interesting that he is starting with Itoje and Launchbury together. Not sure that has happened before, but for me it is the best 2nd row combination we have. Why is Jonny May not getting game time? Is he crocked? The three hookers is a strange selection. I suppose any one of them is mobile enough to fill in at 7 if necessary, but it smacks of muddled thinking.

      1. With any fwd planning Coka & McConnachie, would have already had game time. Over the past yr or so, within a rotation policy perhaps? As it stands, looks like an after though policy instead. Makes Brexit look good.

        1. i fairness Don, Cockanaisga is 21 and has only just broken through and McConnochie has only played 1 season of 15’s after transferring from 7’s neither has proved themselves at club level until now so when was Eddies opportunity for forward planning with these 2

          1. If they’re good enough, they’re old enough I suppose Leon. Presumably Coka’s been around for more than a yr though? And if Ed favours his bosh, why wait ’til the 11th hr instead of @ least 6N? McConnichie? A bit of an oddity. I know he’s from 7’s, but if he’s been tearing things up @ Bath this yr, again, did it take a whole season to spot him? Dunno. Jones favours youth over exp, in some cases, because they’re better as they’re faster & freshen the squad with enthusiasm. Other cases, not. Also left exposed previously discussed positions by bringing in guys like McConn & Francis to an already stacked back line. Doesn’t entirely add up, esp to include a late handful of novices for a WC. Heinz is another e.g. Although not so young in yrs of course. None are individually necessarily wrong, but as a whole, they unbalance the squad & leave it vulnerable to casualties. In yr shoes, I’d feel a tad uneasy.

            1. Cockanasiga has been on the radar since 2017 when he joined the Summer tour of Argentina aged 19 but didn’t play due to injury. He only moved from Championship side London Irish to Bath this season and was played in the AI’s against Japan and Austrailia in the 6N he played very well against Italy so not sure what you are getting at he is young and he has been fast tracked into the squad and given game time. He is just being given even more now while Eddie can.

              McConnochie has played well for Bath but the AI’s and 6N just came too soon for him and had he been selected it would have raised quite a few eyebrows so quite frankly you don’t have a leg to stand on here

              1. Bit defensive. Done some Coka homework too? Agree he HAS some Int’al exp then? And why not more? Better to assess. Hasn’t been injured all yr? What suddenly made him good enough for WC inclusion now? Decent bulldozing fwd, not so on back foot? Re McConn, too soon for whom? If he were good enough..? As mentioned, still seems a tad last minute, but each to his own. May come out in the wash, especially if injury strikes key men.

                1. Ok having said I have already answered your question I have decided to elaborate on McConnochie
                  There are 3 windows for Eddie to have tried these players out Summer tours, Autumn Internationals and Six Nations

                  ST18: RM had signed for Bath but not even trained with them yet 0 mins of pro 15’s
                  AI18: RM yet to make debut for Bath 0 mins of pro 15’s
                  6N19: RM has played in 5 games for Bath, for total of about 300mins, scoring 2 tries
                  Summer19: RM has played 15 games, scoring 4 tries with the highest Clean break percentage and Metres gained per minute played
                  And now he’s effing injured again this week

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          1. Ok, but as such a belter, why did it take until (almost, as he’s still not yet played for England) now for him to get picked? Also Coka only played, when he was available, v teams like Italy. Ok for exp I suppose, but hardly testing or perhaps a vote of confidence in his ability. In any event, bottom line, England go into the WC with a few unnecessarily undercooked?

  4. Meant to add that he can play Daly at fifteen until the cows come home but he´s never going to make him into a full back.

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  5. Another experimental team. We’ll see how it goes but this looks even slightly madder than the last one.
    Would have liked to see Watson get some more game time, he must need it (also Daly is not a fullback!!)

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    1. The fwd pack, by & large, is a pretty seasoned ‘experimental’ one. Even the backs have an experienced majority. Or is that only England field ‘experimenta’l sides whereas NZ don’t, even when 2/3rds of their team changes RC game 1 to game 2? Rec you discard the Rose tinteds.

      1. 2 points Don.
        1. Experimental does not have to refer to number of caps. If EJ decides to play Cole on the wing and Farrell at hooker, then that’s experimental – despite their experience. (BTW the backs do not have an ‘experienced majority’ 4 out of 7 players have 5 caps or less)
        2. No one has even mentioned NZ. What on earth are you talking about?

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        1. I know Pab. Wasn’t reffing just to caps. 4 in the backs I don’t regard as complete novices or experimental are Daly, JJ, Ford, Coka (he had a few under his belt prev). That’s (just) a majority. Yr prop @ wing stuff is a red herring. Also, if things go tits up, yr bench is heavy weight enough for a rescue attempt. With yr 2nd point ref, that WAS the point. No one did comment on NZ’s ‘experimenting’ for their RC tests. Including you, although excluding Erasmus, most were engaged in schadenfreude @ NZ’s 14 men loss to Aus. That’s what I was ‘talking’ about. See how the pic looks after Sat for a touch more reality?

          1. Could be that nobody commented because people aren´t that interested or knowledgeable about what is happening on the other side of the world Don. This is after all supposed to be a blog about English Rugby. As for engaging in “schadenfreude”, to the two-eyed viewer there appears to have been an encouraging fragility about NZ since they lost to Ireland in the States. They may still win the WC, but at least there are four or five other sides who no longer regard them as being virtually unbeatable, and that can only be good for the game.

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            1. Undoubtedly a lack of interest Andy, not least by TRB. However, there seems to be a modicom of same in a small event called the RWC, which alas, although not exclusively being an English event, might yet elicit some wider UK attention. Possibly even from some of England’s potential opponents. Regds NZ’s vulnerability since Ireland, whom have also unfortunately fallen over themselves in a couple since then, it remains to be seen if the still No. 1 team can pull off the hat trick. What might also be good for the game, is if other teams played better rugby instead of having certain of their supporters whingeing about NZ’s ability. G’luck later on today.

  6. Makes complete sense to me. Think back to England vs Wales in 2015 at Twickenham. Wales ended up finishing the game with all sorts of injuries and out of position players which, off the top of my head, involved a scrum half on the wing.

    What better way to replicate the pressure cooker of knock out rugby with injuries, than a game against Wales in Wales, after they just lost out on becoming world no.1?

  7. This highlights a weakness in the initial 31 for me, understand that a few back rows are injured/not selected but having no real depth at 8 is clearly a problem. Not sure what value playing a lock or hooker at 8 will prove/add.. If that’s the plan at all! BV shouldn’t be playing another 80 mins with his injury record, we need to manage him over these warm ups but properly like we would inRWC… I. E. Replace him with an 8!!!

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    1. Mark Wilson is a pretty decent back up 8. What happens if BV gets crocked in the QF after a lock and flanker have already been subbed though? We’d have players out of position. I personally think this is masterstroke by EJ to contingency plan and really test the team at adapting. After all, Saturdays result doesn’t actually matter.

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      1. If they get walloped Henno, it WILL matter. Would you rather go into a WC with wins or defeats? Master plan? What master plan? It’s all last minute, chuck some shite @ the wall & hope some will stick, stuff. However, will be deemed irrelevant if England win.

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    1. If sticks & stones break Billy’s bones again there’s NO direct 8 cover. Morgan’s watching it on TV! This has been covered tons of times. Do pay attention 007!

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  8. Agree he is contingency planning but I think the point is we are in-necessarily weakening the team by the selection. Wilson is a good back up at 8 but is also our best 6, we therefore lose strength in a number of positions (our best lock going to 6 on top?) because of 1 injury. Totally get planning for issues and these games don’t matter hugely but I feel this team sheet highlights a selection failure that might weaken us considerably.

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  9. I said lawes would get game time at 6 when the prelininary squad was announced and i was a bit piled on.
    Curry and Underhill are both managing injuries and assume Jones doesn’t want to risk Wilson who is his last option at 7 other than the raw Ludlam.

  10. Essential he gives Ford some game time at 9.Also agree lack of a 2nd 8 is dangerous.Watson needs lots of game time.Still he has 2 more trial games after this and we must try and believe he knows what he is doing.I am sure they have planned for every scenario they can think of.Result not important but performance/attitude is.

  11. I have serious problems with the squad as selected firstly we need a proper hard boiled fullback that will give every ounce of energy and guts every moment on the pitch ….BROWN FITS THAT . ..secondly the most talented organising slight of hand fly half CIPRIANI IS ALL THAT .and still very capable of organising defence and defending when required …only 2 proper scrum halves selected yet DANNY CARE with all his ability and experience ignored ..Who on earth could leave out Nathan Hughes ultra versatile ultra competitive hard as nails from not only the bench but the squad . Admittedly everyone in the squad deserves their place .and most are irreplaceable and vital . The line has to be drawn somewhere . But in this particular year when our strength in depth is vast a strong line has to be drawn . My particular line I have shown probably wont suit all .. my final special player who has been selected and universally admired ..JACK THE JUICE KNOWEL .. GET FIT QUICK WE NEED YOU !!

    1. In WW2 officials would go to Winston and complain of shortages.Churchill in his matter of fact way would write MAKE DO in very large letters across their submissions/EJ has made his choices and bitching about it is pointless.
      What faces England is a question of approach as the forwards are world class and there will be no shortage of ball both Ist and 2nd phase.
      1)A low percentage pattern game(ie Youngs and No Arms kicking the ball to death and recycling from regained possession-playing by the numbers.
      2)A faster,passing linked game which attacks the gain line.This the forte of Ford and Heinz-Farrell and Youngs are too slow in legs and mind to use this approach.

      The weather in Japan is going to be much more like it was at HQ than the wet windy conditions much more prevalent in the 6 Nations.
      There are 2 issues that need to be married together,namely EJ likes hefty players and the one nightmare for all defence coaches-pace accompanying power.

      The best approach to me seems to me is that it is better to pick the door lock rather than try to bash the door down-Use the skilfull fast players to create the gaps and use the big boys to finish rather than the other way around.I happened to notice Henry Slade on Sat with a rather wistfull expression-He would have loved to have had the opportunity to create mayhem like JJ did,rather than being a luxury ball chaser!

      Following on from the unfortunate 2nd half in the 6 Nations against Wales compounded by the sheer incompetence in the second haif against Scotland,one would suppose that certain players are on notice to shape up even if they have been given sacred cow status-Farrell is a fine player but he should never have been given the captaincy-It adversely affects his game,not a luxury we can afford!.

      1. JS10, perhaps Churchill should be resurrected to take charge then? Although HE didn’t create the WWII shortages. You state W class fwds & therefore no shortage of ball. Well, how many would get into a W team? And how do you know that they’ll autonatically get plenty ball, particularly if England get through to the later stages? Packs like SA may have a say in this. The quick ball theory with Captain Farrell & Youngs in situ doesn’t look too healthy either. Surely, ‘fine’ players don’t boot their team to certain defeat from a winning position! You also state no point in bitching over spilt milk, then do so over Farrell’s being given the arm band!? ‘Make do’ perhaps? Indeed!

        1. The point about the forwards is somewhat subjective.Sure we havnt got a Retallic or an Etzebet but how many countries would give their eye teeth to have the Vunipolas and Itoje.
          Referring to the captaincy,I was in the crowd when Exeter tonked Saracens down at Sandy Park and quite Frankly Farrell lost the plot and his game went down the pan with the rest of his side.Fine player he may be ,but every captain needs help on the field,the question is ,is he getting the help? and secondly is he listening?,Jonno,our greatest captain understood this,he knew when to talk and when to listen but on the field he was the boss and Woodwood kept his distance.One gets the impression at times that Farrell and Jones are bound together for mutual protection and we end up with the shocking game management situation we witnessed against Scotland.Be in no doubt we would have lost that game but for Ford.Ford”s job is to win games,it is not to save Farrells and Jones asses for their game management failings!.

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  12. Interesting to see England’s no.1 tight-head is on the bench. I suppose it’s a good idea to keep him away from A-W J for as long as possible. Don’t expect him to get more than 10 mins max. A real worry for England – think of that quarter-final……….

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    1. Gwyn – don’t really need to be playing our first choice props when our second and third choice ones made such a mess of the Welsh front row last week.
      PS – with the Aussies and Fiji in their group, Wales had better make sure they can actually make the quarter finals…

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      1. Pride before a fall? England are away this time. May, may not have to eat that boast. Currently Wales are 2, whereas England are 4.

        1. Oh Don.
          Quite clearly my comment was a little poke at Gwyn in response to his Sinckler comments.
          Yes we’ll all have mud on our faces if the team we support loses. That’s goes with supporting a team, doesn’t it?

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          1. Perhaps so, but in order to prevent ‘mud’ on yr face in the 1st place, it’s sometimes prudent to wait until after a match before commenting thus. I always thought it was egg BTW.

      2. Not totally convinced that Sinkler will be the regular No.1 tight head now that Cole has recovered his mojo Pablito. I agree that Sinkler brings far more in the loose and has improved in the tight, but if the primary job of the TH is to anchor the scrum I know who I would rather have for the first fifty minutes. Plus, Cole doesn´t bring a lot of go forward off the bench, so if EJ is not going to use him to start why not have Williams there instead?

  13. Selections like McConnochie, JJ, Coka, Francis (?), Ford & Heinz make some sense, albeit @ 11th hour. Need all the game time they can get. Could have, should have done this 18/12 back. Pack sound again, although don’t like Lawes @ 6, nor Daly @ f/back for that matter. Ford as captain, fly1/2 interesting. Will he line up here in the WC? See the bench as strong too, Singleton being the exception? Don’t get that 1? A tighter 1 with Wales squeezing it @ home by 5?

    1. Exactly Don.Having Big Billy back,firing on all cylinders completely changes the dynamic-It allows Ford and JJ to run the show!

  14. Best wishes for Billy V on Saturday. I really (genuinely) hope he doeesn’t do that arm (or anything else) again. he would be a loss to the whole tournament, but to England, devastating and terminal I fear.

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  15. TRB has omitted the reply boxes to yr last 2 posts Leon. Presumably, as per my defensive moment conspiracy theory, to gag my responding!? Anyway, can’t state what Hansen would have done. Need to ask him. He IS doing what he’s doing. I.e. giving games to the whole untrimmed squad he’s had in mind for some time, including dual play makers. Regds McConn, if he’s had so little game time with Bath to guage him by, on what basis is he included in the WC squad then? Tough on him with his latest injury, but even less time to judge his ability.

    1. Again the answer to your question is in my post above. In the 15 games he has played he has been among the top players for defenders beaten, clean breaks and metres made plus he has years of sevens exp and an olympic gold medal. The question was if he could apply that to the 15 man game which he must have convince eddie he can in what he has shown so far

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  16. Humbug Leon. If McConn has had 15 prem games with a stellar record, was he nevertheless unavailable for any England games prior to the 11th of now? Stats, damned lies etc. Anyway, he’s going into a WC with likely zip exp & @ the expense of an alt 8, TH. You must be pleased.

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