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England's likely lads set for senior service

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Bryn Palmer | 13:58 UK time, Monday, 9 January 2012

Half of England's World Cup squad are likely to be cast aside when interim head coach Stuart Lancaster names his elite player squad (EPS) on Wednesday ahead of the Six Nations.

While retirements, injuries and ageing players past their best allow for a natural changing of the guard, this announcement was always likely to have a "new era" feel to it.

The four-yearly World Cup cycle inevitably leads to a sense of renewal in its aftermath. England's failed campaign and the off-field shenanigans that blighted their time in New Zealand only made the need for a fresh start more urgent.

The selection challenge facing Lancaster is two-fold. His mission statement when handed the job was to put foundations in place for England's future prosperity.

That implies blooding youngsters who will be capable of delivering World Cup success on home soil in 2015.  

Then again, if Lancaster is to have any chance of persuading his RFU employers to retain him in the post, rather than recruit a more experienced head honcho of world renown, he needs results.  

And England do not have the sort of fixture list that lends itself to comfortable victories.  

An opening Calcutta Cup clash at Murrayfield against a Scotland side bent on revenge for their World Cup elimination by the auld enemy comes with a sizeable health warning.  

So does their second fixture against Italy in Rome, where England have scraped four- and five-point wins on their last two visits.  

Add in a trip to Paris, either side of Twickenham dates with World Cup semi-finalists Wales, and Ireland, who have won on three of their last four visits to south-west London, and a pessimistic red rose supporter might surmise that Lancaster will do well to deliver a mid-table finish.  

He could certainly have done without the rash of injuries that have beset some of his key players in recent days. Toby Flood, Manu Tuilagi and Courtney Lawes could all have expected to start at Murrayfield, but will now have to delay their entry into the tournament.  

With lock Louis Deacon joining prop Andrew Sheridan and scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth on the long-term casualty list, Lancaster has no option but to look for fresh blood in certain areas.  

Saracens' Owen Farrell is one of the uncapped players expected to play a leading role in the new-look England side. Picture: Getty

Jonny Wilkinson, Lewis Moody and Steve Thompson have already left the Test scene, and the temptation to dispense with the rest of the older generation appears to have been irresistible. 

Simon Shaw, the grand old man of English rugby at 38, Mike Tindall (33), Nick Easter (33) and Mark Cueto (32) are likely casualties, as are centres Shontayne Hape (31 this month) and Riki Flutey (31), who was in the last EPS squad but missed out on the World Cup. 

In addition to replacing the retired and injured players, under the terms of the EPS agreement Lancaster can make a further 10 changes to the World Cup squad of 30, and add two more to make up the new 32-man group. He will also name a 32-man Saxons squad. 

Let's consider the likely changes and new faces in each area of the team.


BACK THREE
England are flush with options at full-back, with Saracens' Alex Goode and Harlequins' Mike Brown both in prime form. One of them should join a rejuvenated Ben Foden in the squad, with the other in the Saxons. Delon Armitage, in poor form and still suffering on the disciplinary front, is likely to make way. Gloucester wing Charlie Sharples (22) missed the World Cup cut but could now take over from Sale veteran Cueto, while Saracens' David Strettle is also a contender. 

MIDFIELD 

Tuilagi is the only one of the four centres who went to the World Cup sure to be named, and he is unlikely to make the opening game. Tindall and Hape are set to be axed, while it remains to be seen whether Lancaster sees Matt Banahan as a centre, wing, or a Test player at all. Saracens' Brad Barritt is probably the gain-line-breaker-in-waiting, Leicester's Billy Twelvetrees (29 points v Wasps on Saturday), and Quins' Jordan Turner-Hall offer options at 12 with Gloucester's Henry Trinder and Harlequins' Matt Hopper the more nimble alternatives at 13. 

HALF-BACKS 

With Wilkinson gone, and Flood missing the start of the tournament, Lancaster has a tricky call to make. Saracens' 20-year-old Owen Farrell is the talk of the town and sure to be included; he might start at centre if England want a 'second five-eighth' in midfield. Does Lancaster now give Farrell his head at 10? Or turn to his Saracens team-mate Charlie Hodgson, whose distribution skills are still top notch even if his Test career stalled because of defensive concerns. The decision to suspend scrum-half Danny Care was not taken lightly, given that Wigglesworth is out for the season, leaving the back-up to Ben Youngs on the light side. Wasps' Joe Simpson will presumably be retained, and Northampton's consistently effective Lee Dickson would provide an interesting alternative. 

FRONT ROW

Joe Marler

Harlequins prop Joe Marler is one of the young players who could step up for England against Scotland in the Six Nations. Photo: Getty 

Thompson's retirement leaves hooker Dylan Hartley in prime position to reclaim the starting role. But the back-up is thin. Lee Mears, the third World Cup hooker, is 32, and not getting any bigger. Wasps' Rob Webber was in the Saxons squad last season but chose a bad time to have a line-out wobble against Leicester on Saturday. Harlequins' Joe Gray (23) and Saracens' Jamie George (21) are the coming men, but still wet behind the ears. In the props department, Sheridan may have played his last Test, so there is a loose-head vacancy. Joe Marler's skills around the park are eye-catching for Quins, but does he have the scrummaging grunt for Test rugby? Worcester's Matt Mullan and Gloucester's Nick Wood are alternatives, while tight-head Paul Doran-Jones has nailed down more starts for Northampton than David Wilson has for Bath of late.

SECOND ROW 

The retention of Tom Palmer, 32 but still relatively young in Test terms, would make sense even if Deacon were not ruled out of the whole tournament and Lawes likely to miss the start. Their absence could give chances to Bath's Dave Attwood, who won two caps in 2010 before disciplinary issues stalled his progress, and George Robson, consistently excellent for Harlequins. Leicester's Geoff Parling is another option, while Sale's athletic lock/flanker James Gaskell could also come into the reckoning. 

BACK ROW

Quins captain Chris Robshaw is the obvious candidate for promotion, after excelling during the pre-World Cup training camp but missing final selection. His versatility - he can play all across the back row - makes him a prime candidate for a place in the match-day 22, if not the starting XV. With James Haskell unavailable during his stint in Japan, and Moody gone, Tom Croft and Tom Wood are the likely starting flankers. Will Lancaster opt for a specialist open-side in his squad? If so, Saracens' Andy Saull and Jamie Gibson of London Irish are the likely lads. The decision of Bristol-born Llanelli Scarlets number eight Ben Morgan to choose his native country over Wales will hasten the end of Easter's international career, and possibly further frustrate Gloucester's Luke Narraway. 

Possible England elite squad:
Forwards (18): Hartley, Webber, Gray; Corbisiero, Marler, Stevens, Cole, Doran-Jones; Attwood, Lawes, Palmer, Robson; Croft, Robshaw, Wood, Saull, Morgan. 

Backs (14): Foden, Goode; Ashton, Sharples; Banahan, Barritt, Twelvetrees, Tuilagi; Farrell, Flood, Hodgson; Dickson, Simpson, Youngs.


But that's just my assessment. Who would you like to see in Lancaster's new England?
You can also follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BBCBrynPalmer

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Very good idea's so long as we are not to quick to cast the experienced players aside to quickly. Not sure Marler is the man at the moment, as he was made to look very average against Exeter Chiefs. I'm sure he will become a great player but feel he is a couple of seasons off that.
    The backs are pretty spot on, feel Delon Armitage has lost his way, with way to many high tackles in his game and therefore a "sin bin" risk to high for International games. Need a really influential forward in the mold of Moody, Dallaglio or Martin Johnson to lead them forward.

  • Comment number 2.

    Surely an alternative for the specialist open side would be Dave Seymour of Sale? Has without a doubt been one of Sale's best players this season. I wouldn't mind seeing Mike Brown of Quins either, been playing well and could be the alternative to Foden. Centre looks like a weak area for England, but watching Twelvetrees vs Wasps, maybe he should be given a shot at 12 or 10 whilst Flood is injured?

  • Comment number 3.

    No Mike Brown - you obviously haven't been watching Premiership Rugby this season!

  • Comment number 4.

    Two errors! Dave Attwood is now of Bath. And, I think you must have made a mistake in mentioning Louis Deacon anywhere near an England squad (regardless off injury/fitness). He adds nothing.

  • Comment number 5.

    Banahan?! He shouldn't be allowed near an England shirt ever again!

  • Comment number 6.

    Who Cares!!Stuart will be given a short time to prove himself. Then the press who always knows best, will crucify him, i am sick of the negative coverage the British media roll out for our national teams. I almost wish i was Welsh, the whole country gets behind their national teams.

  • Comment number 7.

    I'm sorry but what does Nick Abendanon have to do to get a look-in for England? He's been overlooked for far too long - he's always been a good running 15, but his handling and composure have improved immeasurably recently.

  • Comment number 8.

    Surprised Phil Dowson hasn't been mentioned. Has been outstanding for Saints for the past 2 seasons and deserves a chance to take that form to the International stage

  • Comment number 9.

    I would definitely take Henry Trinder over Matt Banahan in the centre, Banahan has had plenty of chances to prove any sort of creativity to combine with his size but I have definitely yet to see it.

    I would also love to see Mike Brown be given a start at full back if Ben Foden doesn't inspire in the early matches, Brown is consistently excellent at club level and Foden would still provide a valuable utility replacement as a full-back, scrum half or wing off the bench.

  • Comment number 10.

    As far as I know under EPS rules if a player doesn't play in UK then he can't be selected so Tom Palmer shouldn't be selected. What about someone like Matt Garvey of London Irish at Second Row for as a young up and comer. Also Paul Doran-Jones is not a international player he has continously been found out this season at Northampton in both the Premiership and Europe. This squad is ment to be about blooding youth for 2015 so why do you not think Christian Wade should not be in on the wing he is probably the most exciting player with the ball in hand like Jason Robinson was.

    What do people think the starting XV will be for Scotland?

  • Comment number 11.

    Re: No 2) JimmyOstick - Remiss of me not to mention Seymour. Been in good form and could well figure in one of the squads - probably the Saxons - if he's fit, though he took a pretty hefty bang to the head against Leicester recently. Another Sale player, young prop Henry Thomas, also sustained a knee injury in the same game, otherwise he might have been in with a shout too.

    Re: no 4) JWRC123 - thanks for the Attwood spot, hopefully that error should have been rectified now. Deacon may have been one of those Lancaster would have cast aside, we don't know, but his injury makes that argument academic.

    Re: no 7) bales left peg - Agree Abendanon is a consistent performer for Bath. As I said, England have plenty of in-form options at 15, and suspect that others - Foden, Goode, Brown - are just ahead of him.

  • Comment number 12.

    Reddavey unfortunately for Dowson there are too many good players in the back row that have been playing better than him this season.

    Bales left peg Nick Abendanon is too prone to that one big mistake and is also unfortunate that he is competing with Foden, Brown, Goode, and Morgan for one position.

    Neags, I agree Banahan is so inconsistent he is not worth being in the squad put Henry Trinder in there or Jonny May both good young players with something about them.

  • Comment number 13.

    In my opinion, the Scotland team should be (though I'll likely have changed my mind again a few hours!):

    Marler, Hartley, Cole, Borthwick (great form, adds experience), Palmer, Wood, Saull (a true openside is needed), Morgan

    Youngs, Farrell, (11) Sharples, Twelvetrees, Trinder, Ashton, Foden

    Bench: Corbisiero, Gray, Attwood, Robshaw (all 3 backrow positions covered), Dickson (true form at the moment), Burns, Homer (good form, kicking option, provides back three cover)

    Also in the squad: Stevens and Mears (can't make too many changes to the last EPS), Robson, Croft, Brown, Banahan, (solely for cover and can't make too many changes once again), Tuilagi, Lawes and Flood (injured for Scotland), Simpson

  • Comment number 14.

    Surprised you didn't mention the London Irish centre Jonothan Joseph...he's been in solid form for Irish this season, and if picked outside Tuilagi, they could prove to be a lasting combination, reminiscent of Tindall/Greenwood of old.
    My back three for England would be Ashton and Foden on the wings with Brown at full-back, what do you think of that?

  • Comment number 15.

    homer - definite no because he got skinned twice against bath.

  • Comment number 16.

    my starting england team would be

    stevens, hartley, cole, robson,parling, croft, robshaw, morgan

    strong experienced from row, grunt in the boiler room, and strength and speed in the back row

    youngs, twelvetrees, 11 sharples tindal farrell ashton foden

    keep tindal to help bed in the new guys

  • Comment number 17.

    Banahan should never be allowed through the Twickenham gates let alone on the pitch, he does nothing for the squad. Sorry but the quick battering ram episode doesn't even work for Bath anymore so....
    Monye? Abendanon?
    Get Mike Brown involved- he's scoring tries at the moment. Being a Quins fan it actually kills me to say it but the Clarke and Downey centre partnership have been solid for a while for the Saints, would be good for one of them to feature...

  • Comment number 18.

    I would pick:
    Armitage
    Sharples
    Cueto
    Tindall
    Banahan
    Hodgson
    Simpson
    Easter
    Croft
    Wood
    Deacon
    Palmer
    Doran-Jones
    Mears
    Marler

  • Comment number 19.

    But I suspect "Farbeitfromme" is Scottish ;-)

  • Comment number 20.

    For the Scotland game (names in brackets would have been my first choice if not for injury)

    15 Ben Foden
    14 Chris Ashton
    13 Henry Trinder (Manu Tuilagi)
    12 Brad Barritt (Owen Farrell)
    11 Charlie Sharples
    10 Owen Farrell (Toby Flood)
    9 Ben Youngs
    8 Chris Robshaw (c)
    7 Tom Wood
    6 Tom Croft
    5 Tom Palmer (is he eligible?) is not then Dave Attwood
    4 Geoff Parling (Courtney Lawes)
    3 Dan Cole
    2 Dylan Hartley
    1 Joe Marler

    16 Alex Corbisiero
    17 Joe George
    18 Dave Attwood
    19 Phil Dowson
    20 Joe Simpson
    21 Billy Twelvetrees
    22 Christian Wade

  • Comment number 21.

    You've all got owen farrell wrong. I played with and against owen when I was at school and at saracens, although he may look a breath of fresh air at the moment, we must not rush him into the England set up. Stick him in the saxons for the time being see how he gets on and then make a decision in due course. His attitude will soon come to play, a very arrogant young man who I personally believe will not make it to that world class bar which players like Dan Carter and Jonny Wilkinson have reached in recent years. So many glimpses of his giving up attitude are coming through, when players realise that if they get on top of him and give him a hard time, he will soon fade out of the spotlight. The only reason he is the "talk of the town" currently is because of the dramatic failure of our fly halves at the world cup. The fact is that England do not have sufficient half backs at the moment, Ben Youngs was hopeless at the world cup, and Joe Simpson is falling from the spotlight due to Wasps' poor run of form. Charlie Hodgson isn't the answer at fly half but players like Freddie Burns and Billy Twelvetree's might be

  • Comment number 22.

    no mention of tom johnson of exeter or thomas waldrom of leicester. more outstanding back rowers to add into the mix I think!

  • Comment number 23.

    This conversation simply highlights the hugely encouraging fact that there exists in England (as admittedly there should),a great pool of talent. To my mind the key thing is to manage the expectations of the press and the un-informed.Let these talented youngsters build the foundation for a credible tilt at the next world cup.
    I hope Stewart Lancaster is given the chance to build something special, he has no baggage and leaves no one in any doubt what he expects in terms of performance and behaviour

  • Comment number 24.

    15 Abendanon
    14 Ashton
    13 Turner-Hall
    12 Twelvetrees
    11 Foden
    10 Farrell
    9 Youngs

    1 Marler
    2 Hartley
    3 Cole
    4 Attwood
    5 Palmer
    6 Wood
    7 Croft
    8 Robshaw

    16 Mears
    17 Doran-Jones
    18 Corbisiero
    19 Lawes
    20 Robson
    21 Simpson
    22 Hodgson
    23 Trinder

    (This for the SCOTS game. Flood, Tuilagi, Lawes and others to be involved when fit)

  • Comment number 25.

    My Starting XV would be FOR SCOTLAND:
    Foden, Ashton, Tuilagi (can't remember if he is fit), Farrell, Sharples, Hodgson, Youngs, Wood, Hartley, Cole, Attwood, Robson, Croft, Robshaw, Morgan

    I would have Flood usually at 10, my thinking of putting Farrell in at 12 is that this way he can build his way up being at international level. Premiership level and International level are two completely different levels and Owen will need a bit of time getting used to test match intensity although he is already quality. Having a Flood/Hodgson there will help him. There is no doubt Owen is the future so blood him now and get him learning. If Tuilagi isn't fit, put in Banahan; the ball carrier you need in at centre.

    I wouldn't get rid of Easter either but it seems like that decision is already made so lets look at 2015 and play Morgan instead of Dowson or Waldrom. Seymour was very close into being in the starting XV, as in my opinion he has been the form 7 in the Prem closely followed by Saull so he deserves a chance.

    At the end of the day, aslong as a see a England team which play attractive good rugby who are happy, thats all I care about, we need to be number 1 again so this is the beginning of the new era! I'm very excited

  • Comment number 26.

    THE XV Starting should be.

    15. Foden
    14. Ashton
    13. Farrell
    12. Barritt
    11. Sharples
    10. Hodgson
    9. Youngs
    1. Corbisiero
    2. Hartley
    3. Cole
    4. Robson
    5. Botha
    6. Croft
    7. Wood
    8. Robshaw (Capt)

    16. Gray
    17. Stevens play both sides
    18. Attwood
    19. Saull
    20. Dickson
    21. Trinder
    22. Brown

  • Comment number 27.

    Saracens have a style of play which suits them but would not suit the international game, so picking too many of their players would be a mistake imo, for example Goode is not having anywhere near as good a season as Brown & Barritt is very 1-dimensional. Harlequins & Gloucester on the other hand seem to be playing good expansive rugby & hopefully we will see a few of their players in the EPS.
    I would pick:

    Forwards: Hartley, Gray, Hawkins; Corbisiero, Marler, Stevens, Cole, Doran-Jones; Attwood, Lawes, Palmer, Robson; Croft, Robshaw, Wood, Seymour, Morgan.

    Backs: Foden, Brown; Ashton, Sharples, May; Trinder, Turner-Hall, Twelvetrees, Tuilagi, Hopper; Farrell, Flood, Simpson, Youngs.

    Hooker is a big weakness, if Webber is on the verge of being called up then I would much rather see Hawkins in, who outplayed Webber in all aspects this weekend.
    Jamie George will Never be an International. Picking Hodgson is a backwards step so Twelvetrees would be my 3rd choice/back up 10. Equally Foden would be my 3rd choice 9, allowing more creativity in the centres/back 3 with the inclusion of Hopper & May. Other players worthy of a mention would be Rob Miller, Gaskell, J Joseph, J Gibson, Tom Biggs, Wade, Ed Slater, Parling.

  • Comment number 28.

    What else does Tom Homer have to do to get in the squad. His kicking has been amazing and he can play almost anywhere in the backs. I think England will miss Danny Care too, hard one to replace

  • Comment number 29.

    Has nobody been paying attention to Tom Homer?? The man who can't miss a kick??

  • Comment number 30.

    I feel sorry for Luke Narraway, he should have gone to the last world cup but I suspect he is going to be like his club mate, James Simpson Daniel, in that he is often talked up but not talked in. I wouldn't pick Hodgson, he's had his chance, If England are to learn the lesson's of the world cup they need a genuine, down and dirty openside flanker. I willlimet you pick h

  • Comment number 31.

    very very very glad to finally hear lee dickson in the squad. The other pundits consistantly ignoring northamptons main man is begining to annoy me

  • Comment number 32.

    My EPS:

    Corbisiero, N Wood, Doran-Jones, Stevens, Cole
    Hartley, Webber, Gray
    Lawes, Attwood, Palmer, Botha
    Robshaw, T Wood, Robshaw, Clark, Morgan, Narraway
    Youngs, Simpson, Dickson
    Flood, Hodgson
    Farrell, Barritt, Tuilagi, Trinder, Banahan
    Sharples, Ashton, Strettle
    Foden, Brown

    Matchday 22

    Corbisiero
    Hartley
    Cole
    Attwood (Lawes inj)
    Palmer
    Croft
    Wood
    Morgan
    Youngs
    Hodgson (Flood inj)
    Strettle
    Farrell
    Trinder (Tuilagi inj)
    Ashton
    Foden

    Gray
    Stevens
    Botha
    Robshaw
    Simpson
    Barritt
    Banahan

  • Comment number 33.

    Gotta fit both Brown and Foden in somehow. Why rule out Sherian but keep Stevens, we need a strong scrum which is why I worry about Marler. Long term Robson and Lawes should nail down the second row. Am I wrong about Fly half being a crucial position? Can we pick a kicking 12 and pick the 10 who is the best for the specialist job please.

  • Comment number 34.

    Good article Bryn. Impossible to call the squad really. I reckon you could pick 3 starting xv's, not including the injured and not know which is the strongest squad. The mdfield is the biggest conundrum, as you have stated. I'd shoehorn Freddie Burns into the picture and Tom Wood would be my skipper. Starting 22 for Scotland

    1. Corbisiero
    2. Hartley
    3. Cole
    4. Palmer
    5. Attwood
    6. Croft
    7. Wood Cpt.
    8. Narraway
    9. Youngs
    10. Burns
    11. Ashton
    12. Barritt
    13. Trinder
    14. Sharples
    15. Foden
    16. Stevens
    17. Webber
    18. Robshaw
    19. Morgan
    20. Simpson
    21. Farrell/Twelvetrees
    22. May

    Croft to cover the 2nd row, Robshaw 6/7.

  • Comment number 35.

    1. Joe Marler
    2. Dylan Hartley
    3. Dan Cole
    4. Tom Palmer
    5. Dave Attwood
    6. Chris Robshaw (c)
    7. Tom Wood
    8. Ben Morgan

    9. Ben Youngs
    10. Owen Farrel
    11. Charlie Sharples
    12. Brad Barritt
    13. Henry Trinder
    14. Chris Ashton
    15. Ben Foden

    16. Joe Gray
    17. Alex Corbisiero
    18. Paul Doran-Jones
    19. Louis Deacon
    20. Tom Croft
    21. Lee Dickson
    22. Billy Twelvetrees
    23. Mike Brown

  • Comment number 36.

    My England team for the start of the tournament would be as below. Players in brackets are those that are currently injured but would take over in their positions when fit.

    15. Foden
    14. Ashton
    13. Trinder (Tuilagi)
    12. Twelvetrees
    11. Sharples
    10. Hodgson (Flood)
    9. Youngs
    1. Corbisiero
    2. Hartley
    3. Cole
    4. Palmer (Lawes)
    5. Attwood
    6. Croft
    7. Wood
    8. Robshaw

    16. Mears
    17. Stevens
    18. Parling
    19. Narraway
    20. Dickson
    21. Farrell
    22. Brown

  • Comment number 37.

    I'm not sure the loss of Care is too big an issue, as there are better 9's with a faster service and game management i.e Lee Dickson. Foden has the 15 shirt nailed down having outplayed Brown on friday night. I also cant help but feel that Robshaw may go down the Dowson route of not getting picked through being too versatile? But I'd like to be proved wrong on that. Anyway, starting XV for Scotland regardless of injuries would be:
    1. Corbisiero
    2. Hartley
    3. Cole
    4. Attwood
    5. Lawes
    6. Croft
    7. Seymour/Wood
    8. Morgan
    9. Youngs
    10. Flood
    11. Wade
    12. Farrell
    13. Tuilagi
    14. Ashton
    15. Foden

    16. Webber
    17. Stevens
    18. Palmer
    19. Robshaw
    20. Simpson
    21. Barritt
    22. Sharples

    Having Flood and Farrell can allow for a bit more flexibility on the bench with regards to back replacements. Wade needs to be looked at as he's looked electric in a misfiring Wasps backline in recent weeks. Simpson and Sharples can make good impact subs against a tiring defence. Robshaw included but as cover for whole backrow. With regards to captain, I'd look at Croft or Hartley or a wildcard punt by putting Lawes as captain.

  • Comment number 38.

    I am surprised that David Paice hasn't been mentioned as a back up for Dylan Hartley as he is a very reliable thrower and a good ball carrier. As well as him, Nick Kennedy, great line-out jumper and a very quick for a second row (he plays sevens from time to time!). I feel that Jamie Gibson should be given a chance at number 7 and Tom Homer somewhere in the backline as he is a solid kicker and a good running back.

    My team to play Scotland would be:

    15. Ben Foden
    14. Charlie Sharples (or James Simpson-Daniel)
    13. Owen Farrel
    12. Billy Twelvetrees
    11. Tom Homer
    10. Charlie Hodgson (despite the defensive frailties)
    9. Ben Youngs

    1. Matt Stevens
    2. Dylan Hartley
    3. Dan Cole
    4. Dave Attwood
    5. Tom Palmer
    6. Tom Croft
    7. Tom Wood
    8. Chris Robshaw

    16. David Paice (you guessed it!)
    17. Alex Corbisiero (can scrum on both sides) or Paul Doran-Jones
    18. George Robson
    19. Jamie Gibson or Luke Narraway
    20. Paul Hodgson (good passer and great cover tackler)
    21. Freddie Burns
    22. Henry Trinder

    I do realise that as a London Irish supporter the team above may be considered a little favoured towards some of the players in there but that us my honest opinion

  • Comment number 39.

    Danny Cipriani.

  • Comment number 40.

    My team for the six nations (In the hope certain players eg. Tuilagi and Lawes are fit!)

    15. Foden
    14. Sharples
    13. Tuilagi
    12. Twelvetrees
    11. Ashton
    10. Flood
    9. Dickson (would be Care if not banned)
    8. Wood
    7. Robshaw (Captain)
    6. Croft
    5. Palmer
    4. Lawes
    3. Cole
    2. Hartley
    1. Corbisiero

    16. Gray
    17. Stevens
    18. Robson
    19. Easter
    20. Youngs
    21. Farrell
    22. Brown

  • Comment number 41.

    i have to say the injures woes of tom rees have really cost him what was a promising beginning to a great test career, hopefully this will be his last rehab and he gets a number of games under his belt, maybe then we will have a world class specialist openside once more in the england ranks once more

  • Comment number 42.

    1. Corbisiero
    2. Hartley
    3. Cole
    4. Botha (Lawes)
    5. Attwood
    6. Croft
    7. Wood
    8. Robshaw (c)
    9. Youngs
    10. Twelvetrees (Flood)
    11. Sharples
    12. Barritt
    13. Hopper (Tuilagi)
    14. Ashton
    15. Foden

    16. Hawkins
    17. Stevens
    18. Robson (Botha)
    19. Dowson
    20. Dickson
    21. Farrell (Twelvetrees)
    22. Brown

  • Comment number 43.

    changes to that squad would be:
    Jamie George- Rob Webber
    Dave Atwood- Mouritz Botha
    Lee Dickson- BEn Spencer(great form for scaracens and Lee Dickson will never be a international scrum half he offer no flair or threat in attack
    Matt Banahan- Christian Wade
    Alex Goode- Mike Brown

    Scotland 22: In brackets if starting player is injured
    1. Marler
    2. Hartley
    3. Cole
    4. Lawes ( Botha)
    5. Palmer
    6. Croft (c)
    7. Robshaw
    8. Morgan
    9. Youngs
    10. Flood(Farell)
    11. Sharples
    12. Farrel (twelvetrees)
    13. Tuilangi ( Baritt)
    14. Ashton
    15. Foden

    16. Gray
    17. Stevens
    18. Botha ( Robson)
    19. Wood
    20. Simpson
    21. Hodgson
    22. Barrit

  • Comment number 44.

    i am amazed that chris wade is not being talked about more, he has a small hamstring problem at the moment but as the quickest player in the league, as well as being only 20, he has to be considered. sharples is a good contendered to start against scotland and a back three of him, foden and aston, with wade on the bench would show that england want to attack and we will finally have the place that Cueto never had

    also mentioning charlie hodgson , decon and Armitageis are crazy, not england quality at all

  • Comment number 45.

    @21 J: that's pretty poor post to put up when you're hiding behind the anonymity of the internet. care to put your name to it? sounds like a bit of jealousy there i'm afraid.

    as to the topic at hand. it's the same old story with england, so many players that appear to be good coming through that we don't know what to do, if we're not careful we'll suffer the 2004-7 period of chop and change to the flavour of the month. comments like those here also suffer from team biases.

    unfortunately, as with football, the view that our premiership competition is strong and therefore the players must be good enough for our international sides if they stand out is leading to unrealistic expectations.

    blooding almost a whole team of young players is unlikely to work. the core of the side pre world cup, i.e that which beat australia twice and won the 6 nations, shouldn't be discarded immediately, we need to retain some experience.

    on that basis i would look to keep easter in the back row until we settle on a 6/7 combination and with the view that haskell replaces him at 8 next autumn.

    you have to have a genuine 7 at international level to compete, so we have to find one now not keep plugging people into one of the key positions in the game.

    this is turning into too long a post and i can't really be bothered to go through the whole team. suffice to say that, after injuries return, i see 7 and 12 (still after now many years now?!) as the key positions to fill. the rest is pretty much in place, or is a coin toss for a few of the places.

  • Comment number 46.

    @39 i also agree

    Danny Cipriani is being overlooked, his kicking down under last year was beaten only by carter and his attacking ability is outstanding, he has a small defensive problem but that could be cured by a good coach

  • Comment number 47.

    How about a young guns XV? Suspend any belief you may have that experience is an asset:

    Foden

    Wade
    Joseph
    Twelvetrees
    Eastmond

    Burns
    Simpson

    Marler
    George
    Cole
    Lawes
    Gaskell
    Croft
    Robshaw
    Wallace

    A little extreme? I'd pay to watch them!

  • Comment number 48.

    If building a team for the future is what this 6 nations is about, then surely the most talented player england has produced in the last 5 years should be playing - Danny Cipriani. He is outrageously talented, kicks his goals, and has been playing a higher-standard of rugby in the Super 15. Owen Farrell must be tried, and Freddie Burns needs a run-out as well but the team must be built around him. Farrell can kick and frankly thats all he appears to be able to do. He plays in an un-inventive rugby team, playing a tedious brand of rugby and he makes the bench at best. At 9, Lee Dickson would be interesting but the best 9 in the country during the world cup was his brother Karl at Harlequins. I reckon he's better than danny care - and thats coming from a quins fan! Mike brown's form has been good, so stick foden on the wing, with ashton at 11 and brown at 15. Tuilagi is not a distributor so he goes 13 and twelve trees at 12, with cipriani at 10. Marler and doran-jones have been superb, although cole and corbiserio are both huge talents. 2nd row, laws for me isn't test standard. He's huge but has no bulk, he appears to be too thin and struggles to make any ground. In other words he needs a 'lump' next to him or needs to be dropped. Robshaw and croft in the back row, wood on the bench, and this Ben Morgan guy should get a look-in at 8.

  • Comment number 49.

    I think that Kehoe86 was pretty close on, but a couple of the Quins who might have been really in contention took a backward step in the mauling from Northampton at the week end. Sharples was not great by all accounts so Strettle, a consistent and proven class, act gets the nod. Corbisero more than held his own last year and Marler doesn't look quite ready yet. Palmer should play to add a bit of test experience to the pack and Attwood should be his partner. Although it looks as if Easter has been binned, he would be in the EPS and in my match day 22 especially as without Sheriden, the English front row will not have things their own way and, if limited in other areas, Easter is an expert at salvaging the ball at the base of a scrum under pressure. My team for Scotland assuming that Tuilagi,Flood,Lawes are all injured and won't play is:
    15. Foden
    14. Ashton
    13. Farrell
    12. Barritt
    11. Strettle
    10. Hodgson
    9. Youngs
    1. Corbisiero
    2. Hartley
    3. Cole
    4. Palmer
    5. Attwood
    6. Croft
    7. Wood
    8. Robshaw (Capt)

    16. Mears
    17. Stevens play both sides
    18. Easter
    19. Saull
    20. Dickson
    21. Trinder
    22. Brown

  • Comment number 50.

    Christian wade should be getting a look in. he's been outstanding for england junior team and for his hat trick agains leicester Earlier on in the premiership. Also billy twelvetrees at no. Ten.

  • Comment number 51.

    @ 39 and 46. Cipriani is a talent, no doubt. I'm pretty sure being in Oz has helped him mature as well. My But is, doesn't he need a team back here first. I would suggest that stability is key to his progress and future. If he got picked, came back and had a couple of shockers, where would he be mentally and practically. It might sound daft, but I reckon he needs to get back here and get a club so he has a support network and can prove himself stable.

  • Comment number 52.

    Interesting blog lots of talk about the fly-half position yet no mention for Ryan Lamb, talented player at gloucester who has only improved since moving to Northampton, could make an interesting half back partnership with Ben youngs or his club collegue Lee Dickinson. Maybe he'll give a often floundering England backline a bit of go forward. Will also know Ashton and Foden inside out. I feel Farell has to start, a good kicking option, solid in defence and gives England a good option as second reciever. Finally I know England are spoilt for choice in the back 3, but David Strettle has been playing well for Saracens this year. Lets hope players are picked on form and not potential, or else its the same as the old regime where players were often picked for experience or reputation. I think whoever is in the squad it's essential that there is a mixture of youth and experience, regardless of their likelyhood to play in 2015. Young players need experienced pro's to learn the ropes from.

  • Comment number 53.

    The team selection depends so much on what systems the coaches are going to deploy. Bearing in mind that Lancaster chose Andy Farrell as his right hand man, I would expect to see some of the Saracens methods coming through.

    Given that, plus the injuries etc, for the Scotland game we should go with:

    Foden
    Ashton
    Farrell
    Barritt
    Strettle
    Hodgson
    Youngs

    Realise there's a Saracens weighting but that midfield work very effectively week on week as a unit. Some people have suggested Barritt is one dimensional, ok, if by one-dimensional you mean only excellent! He always gets across the gainline offering the offload (which is Ashton's meat & drink), he can play at first receiver, he can kick (he played at 10 for the Sharks) and is formidable in defence.
    The commenter who said Farrell is arrogant and flaky obviously hasn't seen him play. He's the linch-pin of the premiership champion's back division, and has shown huge composure in pressure situations both this and last season.
    Strettle is red hot and Hodgson is both effective in bringing this midfield to life and has become more resolute in defense.
    Why people are talking up Twelvetrees I don't know.

    Stevens
    Hartley
    Cole
    Attwood
    Palmer
    Wood
    Robshaw
    Morgan

    With such a young/inexperienced pack I could see Borthwick getting a look in. His set piece is immaculate.
    As I say this is for Scotland, Tuilagi and Lawes would find their way in when fit.

  • Comment number 54.

    i see everybody is entitled to there opinion but why oh why are you all picking nick easter over Leicesters Thomas Waldrom he is by far one of the best ball carriers this season he has won more man of the match prizes than any other player , and he now qualifies for english residency , he would be my first choice pick if i was stuart lancaster but remember , Nick Easter was only motivated by money at the world cup so should not wear the england shirt again

  • Comment number 55.

    The back row is a tricky call - you have Robshaw who can cover all positions, Croft and Wood both excellent flankers, Morgan and Narraway at 8. I think Croft, Wood and Robshaw together gives the best blend of pace, aggression, power and handling ability. Also, any one of them could/should captain the side. My preference would be to have Robshaw at 6 who can do the unseen work very well, Wood as 7 who has been getting good reviews there this season and Croft at 8 where his handling and pace can be fully utilised whilst retaining his lineout presence. However, he has probably only played there for about 15 minutes for England so would be happy also with him and Wood as left and right flankers and Robshaw at the base. Either way, could be world class back row in a few years time.

  • Comment number 56.

    I think it is more or less the squad I would have gone for - although unless I have miscounted you only have 17 forwards.
    I still think Easter is in with a chance of making the cut, he is under-rated, has been in good form for his club, and the the pack is lacking experience.
    I hope that even if he had been fit, Deacon would have been nowhere near the squad - he is not test standard, and will be 35 by the next world cup.

    Simpson is close to playing himself out of the squad, but with Care and Wiglesworth injured, will be included.

    I amazed that people are calling for Cipriani. Since going to Australia his form has been poor, and he has made more headlines off the pitch than on it - hardly going to help his cause after the world cup fiasco.

    Brown is unfortunate if he does miss out, as are Morgan and Abendanon, looks like England have real strength in depth at 15. Problem is that Foden looks like a certain starter, and Armitage offers the ability to play on the wing or 13 as well.

    Shame that Joseph is injured - he might well have been fast tracked into the squad.

  • Comment number 57.

    WOW...just to read all the different opinions of who should be on the elite squad it goes to show that even the England fans find it hard to agree on a team let alone the management.
    The reason mainly being because the squad has to be stripped down and built from scratch and hopefully thats what will happen. I think England in 4 years could have a great team but I fear they may not even beat Scotland in the opener with the squads Im seeing above.

  • Comment number 58.

    @56 obviously not a ciipriani fan, he was poor to start with when he went there and made headlines for wrong reasons, but in the last season was outstanding at 10. he should be thought about, seeing how we have nobody outstanding in that position, to see him and farrell fight it out for the position would be interesting and good to watch

  • Comment number 59.

    Im probably being a whinging Northerner, but I cant help but notice the bias in favour of the London clubs in this article and the resulting posts. Dave Seymour is the best number 7 in the league at the moment, and at age 27 he could easily establish a regular England spot for the World Cup. As for the other flanker, in my opinion its a toss up between Croft and Woods. On form, you'd give it to Woods. On past preferences you'd give it to Croft.

    Furthermore, its all well and good having young forwards, but all the world class packs have one thing in common and that is experience. Easter and Palmer will provide that in this new look team. (However, Im looking forward to seeing Morgans progression in the next few season)

    Hodgson has never and will never cut it at international level, Farrell is the future, so we might as well start with him at 10 whilst Flood is out, regardless of his initial performances, and play him at 12 when Flood is fit. Although I think Twelvetrees might get the 12 shirt, one amazing performance doesn't warrant a international start, even if he did score 29 points.

    There also a few players that should have never made it onto the international scene/made it back onto the international scene; Banana-man Banahan, Waldrom (the worst 8 ever to play for Tigers?) and Tindall.

    This would be my starting team:

    1. Corbisiero
    2. Hartley
    3. Cole
    4. Palmer
    5. Lawes (Croft)
    6. Woods
    7. Seymour
    8. Easter

    9. Youngs
    10. Flood (Farrell)

    11. Cueto
    12. Farrell
    13. Tuilangi (Trinder)
    14. Ashton
    15. Foden

  • Comment number 60.

    Why do we continue to pick foreign players in the England team? EPS rules state that an English player not playing in England can only be selected in exceptional circumstances and yet a foreign player in the premiership can play for England. Senseless.

  • Comment number 61.

    #58, as far as I know Cipriani has only been in Australia for one season, and only played about 10 games - partly because he was banned for off the field reasons. There were at least 2 or 3 shockers in those games as well.

    I am not sure I agree with the idea of excluding players because they play abroad, but the practicalities make it almost impossible for England to pick Cipriani while he is in Australia - for one thing he would be going into the 6N having played no competitive rugby for about 2 months. It would be great to see him fulfill his talent at international level, but being realistic he needs to be performing at a high level for a club playing in the NH.

  • Comment number 62.

    #60 I agree to a point that I would rather see English players. Not so much in the case of players who came over as youngsters such as Hartley or Tuilangi, but the likes of Flutey and Waldrom are players who chose England when it became clear that they were not good enough to play for England. On the other hand ENgland need to pick the best players available to them

  • Comment number 63.

    15 - Foden
    14 - Ashton
    13 - Hopper
    12 - Twelvetrees (unless Tuilagi is fit)
    11 - Benjamin
    10 - Burns
    9 - Youngs
    1 - Mullan
    2 - Hawkins
    3 - Cole
    4 - Attwood
    5 - Croft (if Lawes is not fit)
    6 - Robshaw
    7 - Wood
    8 - Morgan

    The Burns/Twelvetrees/Hopper axis gives some much needed creativity!

  • Comment number 64.

    It's going to be more interesting to see who's selected for the Saxons. This should be our future hope: I'm not sure we've got many youth with international experience, who haven't already seen. I wouldn't want to media damage anybody who isn't really ready yet to play 1st XV, the list of media inflated or destroyed casulaties is huge.

  • Comment number 65.

    Re: no 10) kehoe86 - Although the RFU have a general policy now that they won't select overseas-based players, they are prepared to make exceptions. And since England are short of experienced locks (assuming they don't recall an in-form Steve Borthwick?!) and Palmer was contracted to Stade Francais before the rule came in, I'd be very surprised if Palmer is not in the squad. Palmer was a late developer who only established himself as a Test player in 2010. He may even make the next RWC (he'll be 36, though Shaw played in last year's at 38), but will presumably have to move back to England if he wants to stay involved until then.

    Re: no 38) londonirishman - Yep, David Paice is a decent shout for one of the hooking spots. Seems to have been on the fringes for years, with a few untimely injuries not helping his cause.

    Re: no 56) Dr_John_B - Congratulations on being the first to point out my delib..err, my poor maths. Was thinking the squad could do with an extra back-rower! If they want a second specialist number eight with Morgan, I'd agree Nick Easter could still do a job, but the word is he's one of the older guys Lancaster has decided to ditch. Luke Narraway could possibly be the beneficiary. Unless they see Robshaw as an option at eight, in which case there may be another flanker in the squad.

    Few of you bigging up the likes of Freddie Burns and Ryan Lamb for a fly-half spot. Could well be both in the Saxons squad I suspect...

  • Comment number 66.

    Payne
    Chuter
    White
    Borthwick
    Shaw
    Worsley
    Moody (c)
    Easter
    Grindal
    Cipriani
    Cueto
    Hape
    Tindall
    Banahan
    Monye

  • Comment number 67.

    As a Tigers Fan, I must say I am not sure about Twelvetrees. Granted he had a cracker against Wasps, but he can be inconsistent and would be a risk at test level. Many will remember Sam Vesty having some really good games for Tigers and getting a start or two in white before his inconsistency reared its head and he was cast aside. I think time is still yet to tell on Billy just yet.

  • Comment number 68.

    @52 Agree on Lamb, that's kind of who I had in mind when saying 12 should do the kicking and 10 should specialise (33).

  • Comment number 69.

    Some very good young players coming through, and I hope that they as well as the management are given time and not just axed if they have a bad early game. As with any inexperience nerves can get the better of you on big occasions.

    I'm hoping that the older players who have been on the fringe of the test team are not just used to plug holes. It may sound a little cruel, especially to the likes of Narraway who should have been picked plenty of times, but I'd rather the opportunities were given to younger players. Yes don't just axe all the core older players to ensure some transition, but I'd rather younger players were given a taste of test rugby, even if we end up not doing that well this year.


    As a side note, am I the only one who doesn't rate Tuilagi? His line breaks can look impressive, but they don't happen regularly enough to be a true threat, and when he does break he is very often isolated and loses possession because he rarely gets his head up to look for a pass. Looks exciting but I don't think he is very effective.

  • Comment number 70.

    Everybody seems to have written off Delon Armitage for well publicised reasons. But when he played in New Zealand, unlike many others he looked top class. He should not be discarded as he can play anywhere across the back three, has also played in the centre, has pace, great hands and can kick. He is too young to be dropped and dont forget how important he was to England before he got injured and Foden got his chance.

  • Comment number 71.

    this sounds like a very good squad for this years six nations and maybe the next four years. all i hear lately is this person cant be in the team because they dont have the experience. How can the player get the experience if he is not given the chance. Time to be out with the old and in with the new, work with the young english talent.

  • Comment number 72.

    I think we need to play youth and form, not big names. That means dropping Ashton, (not on form at the moment at all, however when he is, he's the first name on the team sheet). Look at Australia, if they didn't have a front row with the integrity of glitter they would be the team to beat with their back line. Personally my selections for Scotland game are:

    Marler Gray Cole
    Palmer Robson
    Croft Morgan Wood
    Youngs Farrell
    Barritt Smith
    Sharples Foden/Brown Short (Cannot choose between Foden and Brown, would alternate each game)

  • Comment number 73.

    Farrell is a must ! Goode is also good and Strettle will be great. Other than those we need Foden who is amazing and Twelvetrees who had a beast of a game against Wasps.

  • Comment number 74.

    (Bracketed players would be differences if no injuries)

    15 - Foden
    14 - Wade
    13 - Barritt (Tuilagi)
    12 - Twelvetrees (Barritt)
    11 - Ashton
    10 - Farrell
    9 - Youngs

    1 - Marler
    2 - Hartley
    3 - Cole
    4 - Attwood (Lawes)
    5 - Botha
    6 - Wood
    7 - Robshaw (VC)
    8 - Easter (C)

    16 - Mears
    17 - Corbisiero
    18 - Borthwick (Attwood)
    19 - Croft
    20 - Simpson
    21 - Turner-Hall (Twelvetrees)
    22 - Brown

  • Comment number 75.

    My Starting XV (No blinkers on at all, honest!)

    Goode (Alex!)
    Strettle
    Farrell
    Barritt
    Short (James)
    Hodgson
    Spencer (Ben)
    Stevens
    George (Jamie)
    Cole
    Borthwick
    Botha
    Robshaw
    Saull
    Joubert (Pretty much English Qualified now I believe...)

    Might be a slightly one-sided view - however interesting to see just how close to picking a single premiership team one can get - and I could see ALL of these players being in the EPS or Saxons.

    Biggest point of all - that I don't think has been made - Ernst Jourbert is pretty much eligible for England on residency grounds - making him by some margin the best 8 England could look at...

    Start firing when you're ready!!

    JB

  • Comment number 76.

    Perfect England line up for me is as below, i.e no injuries or bans.

    Marler Gray Cole
    Palmer Lawes
    Croft Morgan Robshaw (meant to put Robshaw in first selection not Wood)
    Care Burns
    Farrell Tuilagi
    Sharples Foden Ashton

    Subs for Scotland: Brown, George, Skivington (injured?), Wood, Dickson, Burns, Brown/Foden.

    Subs for perfect line up: Brown, George, Robson, Wood, Youngs, Flood, Brown.

  • Comment number 77.

    jimbodan that team is amazing !

  • Comment number 78.

    Biggest shame is cannot fit Dowson in unless Morgan does not play well in first few matches, by which it could be two late. Also James Short is due an international chance given his form, as well as Trinder & May. Matt Smith is one of the most underrated centres in England. Would be a great 13 outside of Barritt or Turner-Hall given Tuilagi's absence.

  • Comment number 79.

    Some people are still choosing Moody (rtd) Borthwick (rtd) and Care unavailable (!) so let's keep it real. I reckon Bryn's not that far off with any/all of his picks.
    Where he has sat on the proverbial 'fence' is that of Captain. I am a Saints supporter & season ticket holder so I see our guys a fair amount. The match on Friday allowed me to see a future England skipper and he played for the opposition! Robshaw was outstanding for the 80+ minutes and, unlkike some of his team mates, never gave up.
    By picking him, with his flexibility around the back row we then start to show the strength in depth people have been accusing us of having. Crof, Wood, Morgan & Saull you have youth, speed and power.

    More about the backs after the squad is announced!

  • Comment number 80.

    Foden
    Ashton
    Joseph
    Tuilagi
    Sharples
    Farrel
    Simpson

    Stevens
    hartley (c)
    cole
    Lawes
    Croft
    Robshaw
    Wood
    Morgan

    i think joseph's pace and tuilagi's power is something which could give us something new on a world level. i also think Youngs had one great game vs australia and done some nice things since, but has really gone off the boil. i'd have care if he weren't suspended. i think stevens adds some experience in the front row, but i think marler is some scrummaging practice away from being the real deal. Lawes and Croft as locks is obviously controversial but they're powerful, would give us a great lineout, and would probably give us the most dynamic pack in the world. if croft were to play back row, it would be foolish to drop morgan as there's no point having a specialist 8 on the bench, so wood or robshaw would be sacrificed, with maybe robson or attwood coming in. must say though, deighted with the varied opinions and huge open mindedness on this thing. glad to see we're moving on and getting excited about international rugby again :).

  • Comment number 81.

    Reasons why the below should not be picked.

    Christian Wade: Needs to develop in the Premier League for one more season. Talks are Leicester are looking at him as Agulla and Tuilagi are out of contract this season.

    Dave Strettle: Talk of a lot of form, but not a lot of tries. Granted none of Ashton, Sharples or Short have scored a great amount this season, however they always look more likely, and Short just seems to be unflappable.

    Corbisiero: Great form last season, dismal this season. Let him find his feet with Irish again.

    Abendanon & Goode: Brown and Foden are both playing better.

    Homer: Needs to develop his game further for one or two more season?

    Twelvetrees: He has a big boot and is a big lad. That's it for now. No doubt can progress, however needs a more tactical game as I don't he'll get faster.

    Jonny May: His versatility is his own downfall. Too many specialists in too many areas for him to push through. Coaches' fault, not his.

    Hopper: I like him a lot but stepping up from Cornish Pirates to EPS in one season is too much of an ask. Very creative, pace and flair but needs to polish it and learn how to use it at a higher level. Other centre options keep him out also i.e. Tuilagi, Farrell, Trinder, Barritt, Smith.

    I would like to re-iterate how good a player Matt Smith would be for England.

  • Comment number 82.

    Jimboban, good team get ready for the aerial ping pong.

  • Comment number 83.

    I know i am bias cause i support quins but for brown not to be in the squad would be a joke he has been consistently brilliant for quins for years and this year he is a strong contender for player of the season already and robshaw has to start and for lack of a better choice he should probably be captain also marler has great potential.

  • Comment number 84.

    Good article Bryn. You seem to have a grip on the future England team more than some former internationals who want Borthwick and Monye back and Telegraph writers who should not be in print. I'm not so sure we need 5 props if 3 of them play tighthead and loosehead and I'd look at Garvey at London Irish before Robson maybe. In the backs Brown should be ahead of Goode and we need cover for Tuilagi at 13 (not Farrell) with Joseph or Trinder. Would like to see Wade there too....and the posters who put Cueto and Tindall in your teams...i'll be complaining about your comments in due course.

  • Comment number 85.

    I'm curious to see whether danny cipriani is given a second chance...i feel its unlikely to be at this six nations tournament, but perhaps in the next autumn test matches. I havnt watched any of his Rebels games...but have heard good reviews of him. Would be great to see a comeback!

  • Comment number 86.

    What about trying to pick a potentially starting 15 in 2015.
    Mine would be this:
    1. Marler
    2. Hartley
    3. Cole
    4. Lawes
    5. Attwood
    6. Croft (C)
    7. Saull
    8. Morgan
    9. Youngs
    10. Ford
    11. Wade
    12. Twelvetrees
    13. Tuilagi
    14. Ashton
    15. Foden

  • Comment number 87.

    Anthony Watson, winger for Saracens would be a great pick.He has the quickest step I have ever seen and he is lightning quick anyway.I played against it as we went to the same school!

  • Comment number 88.

    Maybe a bit biased as a Gloucester supporter, but I can't help feel sorry for Narraway, I think Burns and May need another year or two before they start for England. Foden can't stop scoring at the moment.
    My XV:
    15.Foden
    14.Ashton
    13. Trinder
    12. Barritt
    11.Sharples
    10.Farrell
    9.Youngs
    8.Narraway
    7.Wood
    6.Croft
    5.Palmer
    4.Attwood
    3.Doran-Jones
    2.Hartley (C)
    1.Stevens

    16.Cole
    17.Gray
    18.Robson
    19.Robshaw
    20.Dickson
    21.Twelvetrees
    22.Brown

    Seems a bit harsh on Saull as he has been in fine form, Dickson in my eyes is underrated. Armitage would have a shout if could tackle below the neck. And who is Ben Morgan? (That's a joke, but seriously?).

  • Comment number 89.

    Also agree with #81 - Jonny May is awesome, I'm pretty sure he's meant to be a centre (saw him skin Cipriani a couple of seasons ago), but coach playing him in too many positions, eg. wing and fullback (?!).

  • Comment number 90.

    If Palmer can be picked despite playing abroad, which presumably he can, then so can Steffon Armitage, who is quicker, more skilful and has bigger lungs than any of the budding opensides mentioned in this blog.

    I agree with above poster re Matt Smith, who is England material, and also with those expressing their reservations about Twelvetrees, who is not (yet).

    Mike Brown is in very good form but he ain't Foden. He will finish off moves, run straight, catch and kick adequately. Rather like Lee Byrne only not as good. What he doesn't offer is the sublime skills and match-turning moments that Foden does.
    He would be decent back-up but I'd still prefer Abendanon, who has some of Foden's x factor.

  • Comment number 91.

    Rather than comment / state preference for individuals as far as possible I'd urge Lancaster to adopt some principles oft talked about but usually in England's case disregarded.

    1. Pick players on form. To some extent the eps makes this more difficult but players in form carry more confidence and are likely to perform better. Too often in the recent past "experience" has won out in selection choices.

    2. Pick players to play positions they play for their club. I see plenty of posters already falling into this behaviour. Brown and foden are great so let's pick them both and stick one on the wing. There's a reason that neither plays wing for their clubs. This causes dilemmas in key positions 7,12,13 but players must be tried. No point in trying for example to continue to ruin banahan by asking him to do things he can't.

    3. Club bias - there's some great rugby being played by unfancied teams. Sale for one. Pick players on performance not based on the fact that they play for Leicester

    4. Never "too" something. History is replete with players discarded (or nearly) due to "conventional wisdom" young / old/ big/ small / inexperienced are all biases that should be ignored. For example those writing Easter off, he has undoubtedly been as good as anyone for quins this year. Are we seriously going to bin players because of a number? It's all a bit Logan's run for me.

    5. Finally don't pick players who are fundamentally flawed regardless of the media's desire to see them play. Note this is not contradictory to the point above its about technical failings that need addressing at club level before trying to put them right for the national side. Here's where I will use a named example and it's Danny cipriani (who amusingly auto corrects to Danny compromise). As even his proponents admit he's defensively poor. At international level that's simply unacceptable and to be honest isn't likely to be improved by playing super rugby where certain skill sets are valued more highly. Having a weak 10 channel loses you games.

    More generally I hope Lancaster is given a chance. I've been impressed thus far and just hope the media realise what's going on. We could lose 3 games this six nations yet move in the right direction whereas he could probably pick a squad to lose less than that but be going the wrong way. I also hope that players themselves pick up the gauntlet of being "professional". Something sadly lacking in recent tours.

  • Comment number 92.

    Disciplinary issues on & off the pitch need to be sorted out, far too many needless penalties being given away. To win you need the ball, if you keep giving the ball away you cut your chance of winning. The off field antics of players who are representing OUR Country is shameful, they show little respect for their team or country and their enjoyment out weighs anything.

  • Comment number 93.

    We lack a world class fly half.........we have done ever sice JW got over about 29 years of age.

    Whats the fuss over Owen Farrell? The media seem to be clamouring for him to be the starting 10/12.......however we seem to be forgeting that everyone seems to want an attacking fly half who 'plays on the gain-line'........I'm afraid Farrell is not. He has a very good boot and is solid in the tackle.....and im afraid if we did end up playing barrit and farrell in the centres we would get crucified.........no attacking threat whatsoever.


    It would be the equivalent of the dreadful 'Hape/Tindall' combination.

  • Comment number 94.

    @91 good post. I would add 2 further thoughts:

    - Don't throw in too many inexperienced players at once. This ties in with your points about not discarding players who are 'too old', and the one about picking players on 'potential'. A lot of these posts seem to be proposing a kind of dream team with 6 or 7 new or inexperienced players. In reality I think he will be more judicious and keep some of the old hands, even if they are not 'the future', for instance Easter.

    - Get the right 'blend' in key areas. For instance half back and centre. This might mean he doesn't pick the best players per se, but picks players who compliment each other. This may also mean that he has different options depending on the opposition, rather like Woodward when he alternated Catt and Tindall in 03 .

    Sorry for any typos, this blackberry is really fiddly!

  • Comment number 95.

    What is this piece based on Bryn? Have you spoken to Lancaster? Do you know what style of play/ players he's going to go for or is it all conjecture???

  • Comment number 96.

    What you've all got to remember is that we'll probably lose a couple (at least) of games (no, not being too negative), but that is to be expected. Please can we all for one get behind the team. We all called for a fresh approach after the WC debacle and Johnson regime so now lets not moan if we lose to Scotland or Italy first up. A top team takes time, so give these guys that at least before we rip them to shreds and call for more experience again.....

  • Comment number 97.

    Clearly a few Scotts commenting herein! From my (armchair) view of the premiership matches there is one No 10 who should clearly be in the squad, if not first choice - Ryan Lamb. Can anyone enlighten me as to why (if) he is not considered.

  • Comment number 98.

    Why anyone would Dan Cole is beyond me. He adds nothing around the park and really, he's not that fine a scrummager - a holder rather than a destroyer. My XV:

    Corbisiero
    Hartley
    Stevens
    Palmer
    Robson (Lawes if fit)
    Robshaw
    Wood
    Morgan

    Dickson
    Hodgson
    Sharples
    Twelvetrees
    Farrell or Hopper (Tuilagi when fit)
    Ashton
    Foden

    Ashton and Foden (particularly Ashton) need a good game, otherwise under pressure from Monye, Strettle, Brown, Goode

    Bench:

    Gray
    Doran-Jones
    Croft
    Saull
    Youngs
    Goode (Farrell if Tuilagi fit)
    Brown / Strettle

    I do think Farrell is slightly over-rated at the moment, although he clearly has talent, so would love see him given license to use it. At Sarries he's functional, not fluid.

    Tough call on Seymour of Sale, he's played very well this season and also Dowson, who I would replace Robshaw with in event of injury.

  • Comment number 99.

    Anyone been following Cipriani down under??

    Not pushing for his return just interested if anyone has seen him play. If he comes back to the Prem in 2 years time i don't think he'll be ignored if he's playing good enough rugby.

    Very much looking forward to this 6 Nations as it's the first one in a long time when i have no expectations and am looking to see performances of the new lads rather than results. We should definitely be focusing on the next world cup and not fall into the dreadful football mantra of sticking with the same players just to scrape results today!!

  • Comment number 100.

    Ryan Lamb is not considered because he has the capability to implode and cost a side a match in five minutes of madness. Granted he is a good player, but I'd sooner see Cipriani back to be honest.

    Also, meant to mention Shaw - still ferocious and in top 3 - 4 English locks and still worth a shout in the squad.

 

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