Mark Orlovac

England ponder Lewsey replacement (104)

Paris – To be honest it wasn't that much of a surprise.

England fans feared the worst when wing Josh Lewsey gingerly limped off the field at the half-time whistle of Saturday’s semi-final victory over France.

And earlier today it was confirmed that a hamstring strain has robbed the Wasps flyer of a chance of playing in his second consecutive World Cup final.

It is a cruel blow for the 2003 World Cup winner after an impressive tournament to date.

He had played every minute of every game up until the injury and put England on the path to the final with a crucial score early on against France.

The injury is not only heartbreaking for the man himself, it is also a big setback for England.

His physical presence in the back three would have been vital a part of England's efforts to shackle South Africa's twin threat of Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen.

Head coach Brian Ashton, who last week was able to name the same starting XV two games in a row for the first time during his tenure, was likely to have done the same for Saturday’s contest against the Springboks.

The argument for retaining the same side that had defeated Australia and France would have been strong, but Lewsey’s injury means he has to think again.

What are his options?

Ashton could decide to stick with the backline that was reshuffled in the wake of Lewsey’s injury, with Mathew Tait on the wing and Leicester’s Dan Hipkiss at outside centre.

Hipkiss, who had an impressive season for the Tigers last season, certainly made an impression when he came on at the Stade de France and did his selection case no harm at all.

The 25-year-old made a couple of nice charges and was strong taking the ball into contact, staying on his feet to allow his team-mates to get in behind him. He did not look like a man winning only his fifth cap.

Tait looked comfortable after being switched out wide and there is no doubt he has the pace to trouble the South African defence next weekend.

Ashton could also decide to make a straight swap and call on Mark Cueto, who has not been seen since the victory over Tonga in the final game of the pool stages.

Cueto, who was ruled out for the most of last season through injury, has struggled to hit top form on his return and looked shaky when selected at full-back in the second Test against France in the summer and in the first game of the World Cup against the USA.

His try-scoring record of 13 tries in 23 Tests highlights that he is a good finisher and his experience could swing the decision in his favour.

If Cueto is selected, then England would probably call up another wing for the bench or they could even call on a full-back from home - leaving Jason Robinson to cover any injuries out wide.

The contenders for a place in the team are sure to face a nervy couple of days but their torment will end when Ashton's team is announced on Wednesday afternoon.

Mark Orlovac is a BBC Sport journalist based in London. He will be based in Paris for the knockout stages of the Rugby World Cup.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 06:32 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Graham wrote:

What a shame for poor Josh Lewsey he has played himeself back into form and suffered the worse kind of setback, a bitter blow for England, David Strettle must figure in the mind of Ashton as a replacement maybe even over the out of form Cueato. I see that the SA Manager says thay are going to stuff us i hope he keeps saying that must make great reading for the England boys,as long as we dont fall into that same trap as Argentina did and England before them of kicking the ball down their throats then we will win keep it tight with the forwards and they will lose discipline and givew away penalties and get yellows and then step up Jonny, come on !!!

  • 2.
  • At 06:34 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • jonny escott wrote:

dan hipkiss deserve a go but we need experiance. if andy farrell is fit we cud put him in outside ctr n play tait on the wing

  • 3.
  • At 06:37 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Graham wrote:

What a shame for poor Josh Lewsey he has played himeself back into form and suffered the worse kind of setback, a bitter blow for England, David Strettle must figure in the mind of Ashton as a replacement maybe even over the out of form Cueato. I see that the SA Manager says thay are going to stuff us i hope he keeps saying that must make great reading for the England boys,as long as we dont fall into that same trap as Argentina did and England before them of kicking the ball down their throats then we will win keep it tight with the forwards and they will lose discipline and givew away penalties and get yellows and then step up Jonny, come on !!!

  • 4.
  • At 06:44 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • pete wrote:

If Strettle is now fit call him up

  • 5.
  • At 06:44 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • dan wrote:

is Strettle fit? keep it simple. put in Cueto, Hipkiss on the bench. Tait and Robinson can cover the wings if there are injures. I guess Farrell hits the bench.

  • 6.
  • At 06:45 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • dan bleakman wrote:

Please for the love of god not cueto. He's playing very badly at the minute and SA would run all over him. Hipkiss has to come in and tait out wide... Hipkiss has been unlucky not to get the nod over farrell for much of this tournament... I hope he gets his start on saturday.

  • 7.
  • At 06:50 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Roger..... wrote:

I would personally call up Danny Cipriani He has been one of wasps Best Players Over the last year, I thought it was harsh not to take a risk on him in the first line up.

  • 8.
  • At 06:51 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • steve t wrote:

hipkiss in at outside centre, has more big game experience at union than Farrell and more pace. Tait on the wing could do a job.

  • 9.
  • At 06:55 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • jambob wrote:

ashton has gone for abendanon, will he go to the bench, start or is he just cover. I think Abedanon should go on the bench. he can cover full back, robinson can play wing, tait can play center, and flood can play 10 or 12 so everyones covered. plus abendanon canbring something if he comes on
9 Gomarshall (Richards)
10 Jonny (Flood)
11 Sackey (Robinson)
12 Catt (Flood)
13 Hipkiss (Tait)
14 Tait (Robinson)
15 Robinson (Abendanon)

  • 10.
  • At 07:04 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Shaun Cooper wrote:

It's a tricky decision. Hipkiss, though strong, hasn't got much pace, the same with Farrell, so that could give Pietersen and Habana, both super quick, the option to cut inside. Strettle could be a good option on the wing, though.

  • 11.
  • At 07:15 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • madbeefsheppo wrote:

I think if Hipkiss plays then Catt must play alongside him, because Hipkiss though talented doesn't have that much international experience.

I would have:
15 J Robinson
14 Tait
13 Hipkiss
12 Catt
11 Sackey


To throw Abendanon into the heat and tension of a world cup final would be a mighty gamble I think

  • 12.
  • At 07:36 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Tinoflyer wrote:

Bring in Strettle?

You are kidding me.

A - hes not played much this season

B - If he is fit he has to merge himself into an atmosphere he has never and will never experience - That is our world cup campaign.

C - If he plays and makes a mistake, it could destroy him.

D - we have the right players at the right level already.

Hipkiss deserves a crack at his more normal outside centre position, put Tait on the wing and bring Farrell onto the bench.

That should do us.

  • 13.
  • At 07:38 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • danny t wrote:

Hipkiss for Tait (more power in tackle stands up giving a target for forwards and reduces chance of turnover)
Cueto for Lewsey - hopefully they will play JP Pieterson who looks lightweight

  • 14.
  • At 07:39 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Yacoob Dhai wrote:

No matter who you guys put out there, the boks are gonna have England for lunch, here come the boks...

  • 15.
  • At 07:50 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • James wrote:

Tait on the wing and Hipkiss at outside centre seems to make great sense. Putting Abendanon in the 22, given he has not trained with the rest of the squad for the last 5 weeks would be mad. I agree with madbeefsheppo.

  • 16.
  • At 07:52 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • cb wrote:

you have to play flood at centre and put tait on the wing.

15 Robinson
14 Tait
13 Flood
12 Catt
11 Sackey
10 Jonny
9 Gomarrshall

  • 17.
  • At 08:05 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Andrew Lawson wrote:

Roger - what planet are you on ?? Cipriani ?? You can't be serious ?? If you had seen him for Wasps in the Sale game you wouldn't pick for your local school seconds !!

Keep Jason at the back, Hipkiss at 13 and Tait on the wing - worked OK last weekend. But have Cueto and Farrell on the bench.

  • 18.
  • At 08:16 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • DJ wrote:

Do boks eat lunch at a different time to everyone else?

  • 19.
  • At 08:35 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Paris Steve wrote:

Agree with comments 11 (madbeefsheppo) and 15 (amongst others) : Tait at 14, Hipkiss at 13 as they've done superbly in the last 2 games. Catt 12, Sackey 11 (disaster in the first games but brilliant in the last 3 or 4 games). You just cannot bring in Strettle, Cipriani or Abendanon at this stage.
Hopefully JW will sort out his balls !

  • 20.
  • At 08:36 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • JL wrote:

has to be Hipkiss, quality player, played really well on saturday, carried and tackled well. why change it? can we afford to stick with catt though???? not so sure. as long as we win who cares!

  • 21.
  • At 08:40 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • mike wrote:

Is Abendanon definitley been named as a replacement?

  • 22.
  • At 08:53 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Sid P wrote:

Whatever happens Farrell must not be in the 22. What has he ever done in Union to be even considered for selection in such a game? Brian Ashton has shown the good sense to leave Farrell out the picture ever since fate intervened to prevent him playing against Australia. IMO that was a crucial turning point which may have saved England from going out at the quarters.

For quite a while it seemed like BA was obsessed with Farrell in the same way that Clive Woodward was initially obsessed with Henry Paul.

I say we should disrupt the team as little as possible. Keep the back line the same as it was for most of the second half. The RWC Final is not the time to chuck Cueto in. After a promising start to his international career he then seemed to succumb to the Ben Cohen affliction, which is: 1) never come from deep and take the ball at pace; 2) always go from a standing start and run laterally; and 3) look for contact not space.

The remaining question is: who to replace Dan Hipkiss on the bench? It probably should be Olly Barkely, who is battle-hardened, rather than Josh Lewsey's replacement.

BTW can we please have Tom Rees on the bench instead of D'Alaglio? Lol has lost all his dynamism and can only play a very limited game nowadays.

  • 23.
  • At 08:55 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Fred wrote:

Cipriani is one of the most talented players of our generation and was unlucky not to get the nod for the squad, he should start at full back with robinson on the wing to contain the likes of habana and peterson

  • 24.
  • At 08:58 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • patriot_conan wrote:

I see Andrew Lawson just posted this but it seems to me it should go without saying that Kipkiss goes 13 and Tait goes on the wing, and further I think anyone with any Rugby-IQ should see that Farrell entering the match off the bench during the second half.

If Farrell gets in the match, England will win and the Southern Hemisphere will have been officially placed on notice that this is no longer a game they dominate.

  • 25.
  • At 09:05 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Boz wrote:

Yep Abendanon is definitely there.

As for thing who plays it depends on what Ashton wants, form would suggest a pragmatic approach - so most likely playing Tait out of position and giving the effective Hipkiss a run or the more defensive Cueto.

I'd like to see Nick on the bench because he did provide some cutting edge in the pre-WC France game that noone else did. He could make something happen, the same can't realy be said of Cueto much more.

  • 27.
  • At 09:08 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • patriot_conan wrote:

Two more things, was anyone watching the Setanta Sports internet broadcast for the England v. France match? The post-game commentary the biggest load of crap i've ever watched.

Also, why was Catt given the MOTM award for the England/France match? I would have given it to Wilkinson and/or the England pack as a whole.

  • 28.
  • At 09:09 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • patriot_conan wrote:

Sid P, did you not see Farrell against Tonga? Yes, Tonga is not RSA, but Farrell showed the composure of one who knows he is a bad, bad man and the intelligence of a legend. He is exactly the kind of player England lack in the back row! Creativity mixed with intelligence and the strength of a forward. Plus, he can kick, too, which could turn out to be huge.

Anyone who thinks Farrell should not be playing, at least as a sub, is mad.

  • 29.
  • At 09:11 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • patriot_conan wrote:

Oops, sorry Sid P, I posted my reply to you before I saw you say that Olly Barkely should play. I guess you were just having a laugh with that post, and there I went and took you seriously.

  • 30.
  • At 09:33 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Rich wrote:

well what a load of rubbish all of u!! out goes catt in goes barkley inside! hipkiss outside Tait on the wing bung of sackey he is a pile of rubbish and bring robinson into the wing and put abbedannon!! wooo! BATH RULE!! i reckon we should have called up vanikolo he is an english citizen now!! hw about that!! take out easter and put in dallagio!! also play stevens!! and finally get rid off rubbish corry and wack on Farrel!! Ashton get a grip!! FARRELL IS A GOD!!! HE IS ENGLANDS BEST PLAYER NOT WILKO!!

  • 31.
  • At 09:48 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • John Bard wrote:

I too watched the Setanta coverage of the game in America. Couldn't agree more about the post match analysis from a bunch of envious one-eyed Irishmen, it was bollocks! Even worse was the match commentary from Nigel bloody Starmer Smith - god does he like the sound of his own voice. He jabbered on incessantly, mostly about totally irrelevant side-issues or 'human interest' stuff about the players - and this over crucial pieces of play, or over the ref's comments which we wanted to hear. I may have to watch the final with no sound...

  • 32.
  • At 09:50 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Karl wrote:

Rich @ 30 is nuts. Farrell played against the Boks and was a disaster. Why change a winning line up? I'd be tempted with a straight swop for Cueto except he was rubbish in the last game. Pick Hipkiss at 13 and put Tait at 14. It worked against the French. The Boks are no better than the French except their wings are even faster. Why bring in a slow coach like Farrell? Habana would run rings round him all day.

  • 33.
  • At 10:00 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Cock of the North wrote:

Must agree Farrell lacks pace but has everything else Farrell for the bench at least Flood and Barkley not quite the finished article yet

  • 34.
  • At 10:02 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

Speak to most newcastle fans and they'll tell you that Matt Tait is best on the wing. And Dan Hipkiss has been one the stand out centres in European Rugby this season. For those thinking that his pace is an issue, look at the video of what he did against france, he may not be the fastest, but he is by no means the slowest. Plus, he has plenty of final day experience with his part in Leicesters campaign last season.
11 Sackey
12 Catt
13 Hipkiss
14 Tait
15 Robinson

  • 35.
  • At 10:05 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

Ashton has one injury concern - so why all the wholesale changes some people suggest? Robinson and Sackey must start for pace in attack and to give a chance of catching Pietersen & Habana (tall order I know - but if they do break we'll need all the pace in defence we can get). My two penn'orth - Robinson to full back - bring in Hipkiss and leave Ashton to decide who and when to bring on as replacements. Don't ask me for a forecast - other than it'll be a tight game with no more than 5 points in it. However - I do believe that the extent to which the England game has come on gives us at least an evens chance.

  • 36.
  • At 10:21 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • patriot_conan wrote:

Rich @ 32 -- everyone played poorly against the Boks, so why single out Farrell?

And of course Habana would run rings around him, but nobody is saying he should play on the wing!

Farrell for 5 reasons:

1. Intelligence
2. Composure
3. Strength
4. Kicking ability
5. Creativity with ball in hand

Also note: Farrell's strength in the back row will be essential to keeping possession.

  • 38.
  • At 10:42 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

Before I make a final judgement on Farrel I want to see him play in a decent England side.

At Croke Park the forwards were going backwards and the occasion itself meant that probably any English side was onto a loser there. In the pool game against the Saffa's we had NO fly half. I'm not saying he should start but he should be on the bench.

As for the rest I think Hipkiss impressed when he came on, Catt is looking more of a liability with each kick and Cueto is not upto speed as he hasn't played! Tait can play wing but the SA will target him with the high ball....hope he's upto it.

  • 39.
  • At 11:07 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Ben E wrote:

Straight swap - put Farrell on the wing and watch him burn up Habana with his lightning pace

  • 40.
  • At 11:13 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • tomtom wrote:

patriot conan no offense but you do think that you know everything about rugby dont you. andy farrell should never play back row. its not solely about strength but about technique which he clearly doesn't have compared to the likes of worsley and moody. his composure against sa wav dreadful he ju8st threw the ball over his shoulder, play worsley moody and easter worsley deserves to start purely for his match winning tackle on clerc. plus nick abendannon on bench because he is the only natrual full back who could cover robinson if he gets injured again... partiot conan, grow up!!!

  • 41.
  • At 11:39 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

Ben E

Funny man. Funny!

  • 42.
  • At 11:49 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Patrick Sawers wrote:

We're learning that it takes a TEAM TO COME TOGETHER that wins games.

Although others who aren't currently in the squad are temptations to bring in - and I feel for them that injury barring they would have made it - England now have a collective power that is greater than the sum of the parts. I think Brian Ashton knows this and will stick with those who have been around for his 22, whoever he calls up for the 30th squad man.

I think previous comments suggest the same kind of thing.

What about Farrell and Barclay on the Bench though? I'm not sure how Flood leap frogged Barclay.

Well done to Catty for prooving most people wrong though. Some excellent performances and fantastic to see the 10,12,13 axis working well finally!

Tait has really fronted up well at 13. Now we finally have a good 10,12,13 that is working, would it be a risk with Hipkiss at 13 and Tait at 11?

  • 43.
  • At 11:49 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • TB wrote:

Cipriani If blooded before this match could have possibly been Englands best attack against SA, His pace would have allowed us to Get right up in Habanas face and his kicking is second to none. I just can't wait to see him in the six nations when all the golden oldies are sidelined for the next generation.

Abendanon i feel won't even make it into the final squad, Tait on the wing is a big ask and so unfair, but it will probaly end up being the line up, with flood playing some part aswell.

  • 44.
  • At 11:51 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • S Madras wrote:

Andy Farrell's only problem is the knives in his back - as Jason Robinson pointed out. Nice to see so many non-entities having a at big Faz. More helpings of humble pie for the media await Try reading what the reptiles said three weeks ago. Shame on them.

  • 45.
  • At 12:02 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • patriot_conan wrote:

lol tomtom it's guys like you who make room for the Sven Goran's of the world.

First, why does everyone keep mentioning Farrell's performance against RSA? 1) everybody played poorly that day and, more significantl, 2) Farrell was played as a fullback when he usually plays center.

To say that Farrell is not technically as sound as woresel and moody is crazy. I don't think I know everything about rugby, but I know the class when I see it.

  • 46.
  • At 12:03 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

Personally I like Farrell but unless you bring him in for Catt, which I don't think he will I don't see a place for him on the bench (unless Flood in for Catt and Farrell on the bench).

We need Abendannon on the bench because as tomtom mentioned we need someone in the 22 who can also play full back and I don't see any other viable options (and no Cueto does not count as a viable option).

I think there are two options:

1.) hipkiss in and tait to the wing

2.) cueto stright swap for lewsey

my heart says option 1, my head says 2.

I think we need cueto's experience and defensive ability - lewsey was our least threatening attacking back in the back three, so cueto would not be much different. I am not sure how comfortable I am with tait vs habana or pieterson??

option one is the brave option and who knows, might just be the one to win us the cup - some more incisiveness in midfield may be just what we need!!

  • 48.
  • At 01:33 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • tim c wrote:

What do i know wholesale changes ? Error . if cipriani and abendanon discarded at the start through lack of experience why bring them in now If the cupboard is bare tindall or strettle if fit or voyce .DO NOT ask sackey to change wings Tait on wing hipkiss centre the other selections as cover on the bench. Another possibility is simpson daniel .Any way sure mr ashton has more of a clue than me and possibly all of us

  • 49.
  • At 02:22 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

It's a terrible blow for England, and it couldn't have happened to anyone less deserving, Josh has been one of the players who has shone throughout the tournament, not just from the Samoa game onwards. Personally I'd start with Dan Hipkiss at centre and Mathew Tait on the wing, I feel these two would cause the most problems to the SA defence, and Tait is quick and confident enough to handle Habana or Pietersen. I personally wouldn't have Farrell on the bench, as I think he wouldnt have the defensive or attacking ability to trouble SA, and he's not quick enough to provide cover in defence, I'd go with Cueto or Strettle on the bench, to relieve either Hipkiss (with Tait moving to centre) or Tait for the straight swap.

  • 50.
  • At 03:00 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Mark in Washington DC wrote:

Well ladies and gents here we are in the final once again (despite some negative and shall we petty comments made on setanta). Ashton realy has a job to do in the backs. We have the tallent and the skill but how to put it together?? no theres a question, for me it has to be as follows:

9: Gommers
10: Wilko
11: Tait
12: Catt
13: Hipkiss
14: Robinson
15: Flood

I know it probably sounds a strange set up, but to be honest even if poor Josh was fit I would have changed his position. BWhizz had a great game but lets be honest SA will attack his height under the High Ball (remember the last world cup final), so without Josh I have put flood in, height, quick and a very good boot (wilkos understudy aint to bad) I have also brought Hipkiss in for a bit of Bosh, we need solidity in the middle and pace out side. Sackey also had a good game but still for me is under performing. Time and time again I want to see that pace and if there is 2 or 3 yards outside have a go, (there is pace and tries in his legs but he never seems to use), secondly he really did fold against SA last time and I fear that will pray on his mind to much. He is tallent for another day. A few people have mentioned Farrel and I am not going to belitle him as he is a good player however, at this code he just isn't an international back. The try he scored was a rugby try in any code and nothing to build a case on. On the bench maybe if we need a bit of punch near the end but never a starter for me.

The SA Coach (big Hand to him) said it as it is, "their win over us in the group stages counts for nothing and we have gotten to the final by putting in 2 world class performances" I actually think he is worried, with us not playing to the level we should have aginast them and the way the draw fell out they have not met a top flight team who is firing on all engines and so have not been tested. Look at NZ they hit France and were gone after not breaking stride in the group stages. He has got to wonder if England pack put another performance in like against the Aussie well!!!!

Good luck lads. Big up the bulldogs

pieterson is their weaklink tait tackles for god and country so does flood.hipkiss deserves his place and his spot on the bench should be filled by someone who has been a part of the squad unless you can find an inform underwood sat night picked the team.and thanks to the guy that brought up the bitter paddy panel.

  • 52.
  • At 04:57 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • John Bard wrote:

Eddy Raftery, I agree we need Underwood there. However... I spied Tony Underwood watching the Tonga match in the Kings Head, Santa Monica a couple of weeks ago. I went over and told him we needed him with the team in France. He replied, darkly, that all things considered, he'd rather be in California!

  • 53.
  • At 05:18 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Ozzieowl wrote:

Vanikolo for sure, after all he is now a British Citizen and has the skill, pace to see off any SA outside movements.
Pity about the Ozzies!!!!!!!
England 14 - SA 10

  • 54.
  • At 05:25 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

Surely this is a no-brainer. Surely we play:
10. Jonny
11. Sackey
12. Catt
13. Hipkiss
14. Tait
15. Robinson

Abendanon should get the bench as we have no cover at full-back without Lewsey. Tait and Cueto are not full backs. I would also have Farrell on the bench, just in case James and others show Catt up, but I have been impressed with MyCatt in the last few games. That leaves only Peter Richards, who can play wing in an emergency I suppose. The loss of Lewsey is bad news for England, but it can be covered.

  • 55.
  • At 05:38 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Ted wrote:

Please play Farrell. What more could SA and the Boks wish for?

  • 56.
  • At 08:06 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • saffer wrote:

Pieterson is close to a 100 kg's ...who said he was lightweight ?

In fact other than monty and habana the whole backline is almost as big as the forwards...

I don't see where England are getting all hyped up after beating France and Australia . We thrashed you the last 4 games without breaking a sweat ..we've scored plenty of tries this world cup versus your near on nothing....our kicker is as accurate as yours and steyn is far better at drop goals...on what basis could you possibly feel confident ?...What do you think has changed ?

  • 57.
  • At 08:08 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Chris KEALY wrote:

What about Varndell of Leicester ?
What about Strettle of Harlequins ?

  • 58.
  • At 08:54 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • big al wrote:

Makes sense to me that we change as little as possible.

Rock solid defence, great organization, no errors, no penalties, all these come from knowing who is around you and what they are going to do.

As for moving robinson, am i the only one who thinks he has been the player of the tournament, the french tried the continual high balls with no return, same if SA try.

So straight swap for me, someone comes into wing, and focus on stopping the ball getting to their 2 flyers. Saw them against Fiji and they werent all that, very disappointing.

does anyone know, does lewsey still get a medal now he has been replaced, it would be harsh on him if he doesnt, he has played very well

  • 59.
  • At 08:55 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Dave Y wrote:

Leave it to Ashton - he seems to have done pretty well so far despite huge disagreements re his previous choices.

On a different topic - did anyone see Tuquiri in the Oz game when Jonny was lining up his kicks - waving his arms about & jumping up & down on the touchline looked like a clear attempt to distract Jonny - is this allowable?????

  • 60.
  • At 09:01 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

These posts have made interesting reading - for my twopennerth (or however you spell it) ... with the exception of Wilkinson (kicking aside) and Robinson none of the backs are putting in consistently good performances. But, they are working well as a unit, and presumably in training they are mixing it up too, so all this talk of drafting in a replacement for Lewsey is bonkers - stick with the current squad and tinker a little. Catt is prone to being selected once too often and I fear a blooper is on the way - for me, I would put him on the bench for this one. Bring Farrell in, at worst he won't be exciting - but he is dependable and one on one there's not a back in the world who will go through him. If his lack of dynamism is making Ashton itchy then bring Catt on for the flair. Cueto or Hipkiss on the wing, it makes no odds - but please, someone teach Sackey how to tackle (blundering into people is not tackling, standing idly by instead of running yer a$$ off is not tackling!) Leave Robinson at full back - he's happy there, and a happy Robinson, is a dangerous Robinson - it's not going to be pretty, it'll be painful at times - tempers will be lost and punches will be thrown - but after 80 mins, I'll be looking forward to another England victory parade!

  • 61.
  • At 09:24 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Felice wrote:

What is it about Tait.
Does anybody else think that SA are going to target him as the weak link regardless of where he plays.

Hipkiss seemed to make more of an impression IMO than Tait at centre anyway.

Food for thought.

  • 62.
  • At 09:25 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Razor-Ronnie wrote:

Please dont play Farrell. I have a £100 on England to win.

  • 63.
  • At 09:29 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Bambi wrote:

I agree with Rory Underwood, Matthew Tait should start on the wing.
However the debate about Andy Farrell is becoming tedious, the man has played is whole life as a forward in Rugby League. How can he be expected to play at threequarter, he never was the fastest forward in league.
His talents have been wasted and he should have been employed at No 7 or 8.

  • 64.
  • At 09:32 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Robster wrote:

Like everyone I really feel for Josh and so hope the boys do it for him on Saturday.

I thought England looked good with Hipkiss on and Tait shuffled accross to the wing so my team for Saturday would be
Vickery, (Capt) Chuter, Sheriden, Shaw, Kaye, Moody, Easter, Corry Gommersal,Jonny, Sackey, Catt Hipkiss,Tait,Robinson

Replacements Regan, Dalagio, Worsley,Flood,Farrell,Stephens, Richards.

Ronnie would obviously be unlucky to be dropped to the bench but Chuter just brings something extra for me. Bringing Farrell back onto the bench brings a bit more physical presence if we need it.
I'm just glad I'm not picking the team Good Luck Mr Ashton.

  • 65.
  • At 09:34 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • howard wrote:

Nick Abendanon is class at 15 and with Robinson switched to 14 that could be the answer.
Abendanon was one of if not the outstanding back of last season ! Its a risk but it could be a great suprise weapon to use against the boks . . .

  • 66.
  • At 09:39 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Rupert wrote:

Varndell's a good shout, if a bit leftfield.
I've got a couple of problems with moving Hipkiss to 13 and Tait to the wing.
Firstly that Hipkiss is relatively unproven at Test level and the occasion may be too much for him.
Second, that I heard this morning that Lewsey had put in something like 40 tackles in the last two games - a stat which I can't see being emulated by Tait, whose defence isn't his strong point.
Fact is, if we're going to win this match we need to rely on a solid defence and JW kicking points - the replacement for Lewsey needs to be someone who can tackle as well as he can.

  • 67.
  • At 09:42 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • SteveeB wrote:

Does anyone actually know if Strettle is fit? He has to come in as a replacement if he is.

Apart from that, Cueto should start; less messing around with the first fifteen the better. Ashton's canny enough to know if he needs to change things as the game develops.

  • 68.
  • At 09:47 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • sara wrote:

No matter come high end or low end of England...Proudly SA we will kick butt and have the english for supper come Saturday..GO BOKKE>>!!!

  • 69.
  • At 09:54 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Andy H wrote:

Did anyone else notice how far out of his depth Farrell has looked i this tourney...esp against the boks last time?

Dont get me wrong, i have nothing but respect for his achievements in league, but at present he is not the man to step in.

Hipkiss at 13, Taity on to the wing Cueto onto the bench, leaves cover at all positions

Tait the weak link? More like Sackey, cant defend for toffee

  • 70.
  • At 09:54 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • the big D wrote:

farrell is not a god (comment 30).

  • 71.
  • At 09:59 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Beardo wrote:

Seems pointless in taking a 30 man squad and then calling someone up simply for the Final - why weren't they in from the off?

If we go for the least changes then I'd simply bring Cueto in on the wing for Lewsey, the argument being Why go chopping and changing more than we have to now we're matching sides?

If you look at going a bit further then I'm not convinced about Sackey at all. OK four tries so far but he deserved a rocket up his ar$3 for not putting his second against Tonga under the posts instead of showboating with the brakes on and he is weak defensively.

Our backs aren't going to dazzle so keep it tight; let the pack play with Wilko & Catty sat in behind them with Flood coming on when Catty runs out of steam. Play Farrell at the side of Catt which makes us stronger defensively against Fourie & Du Preez through the middle. Tait can then move to the wing. to replace Lewsey.

  • 72.
  • At 10:20 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Cock of the North wrote:

OK Schalt Burglar is on the charge for our line who you gonna call Flood or Farrell, Floods boot or Farrell of either foot. Farrells ball distribution is second to none as his is mental tougness determination and leadership. He will stand up ... how often do England use pace at 12 in attack Rarely it doesnt suit the game we need to play this Saturday We need to use all our old men they will bring the cup home again. Rees and Hipkiss deserve a place on the bench not sure about Tait. Above assumes Catt injured.. Best of Luck England win by 15 points SA Scrum will crumble.

  • 73.
  • At 10:20 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Duncan Spencer wrote:

I believe Abendanon has been confirmed as travelling out as Lewsey's replacement, however I am suprised that Tindall hasn't been considered as a serious contender. A world cup winner of proven class, he has been playing superbly for Gloucester of late and would be right at home in the midfield with Catt and Wilkinson.

If not, Hipkiss in off the bench, Tait to wing, Farrell onto the bench. Can't see Abendanon getting any sort of a look in, unless Ashton decides to open the game up against the Boks. Those teams that have taken the game to the Boks - namely Fiji and Tonga - have caused SA the most trouble, although in the end they both lost....

  • 74.
  • At 10:22 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • griffo wrote:

How JAMES SIMPSON-DANIEL isnt in this England squad i will never know.
Did nobody see his try against Worcester?
No other English wing/outside centre could have scored that try...shame on all of you for forgetting him.
Brian Aston should be strung up by his gonads!

  • 75.
  • At 10:25 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Hal wrote:

It has to be Hipkiss in the centre he is world class and we are missing a trick in not playing him. Tait on the wing could be a defensive weakness but also could create problems for the Boks. Come on the grumpies!

  • 76.
  • At 10:32 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Cayman_haines wrote:

Why why why would Ashton start, or even put Lewsey's replacement on the bench?! These are ludicrous suggestions. Ashton has proved himself and good tactician and manager of men as this World Cup. Do you not see how promoting an otherwise overlooked player to the bench or starting in a World Cup FINAL over the squadmates that got them there would undermine the team spirit that has fuelled this English Renaissance?

At this stage it's all about consistency. Lewsey's replacement will merely hang about for the unfortunate possibility that someone gets injured in training this week.

I would put Hipkiss at 13, Tait to wing, the rest the same. Although I'd have Farrell on the bench as am worried about Catt against this Bokke midfield.

  • 77.
  • At 10:35 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • shaun wrote:

All this chit chat is irrelevant anyway. Seven weeks to win the world team punting/drop goal/penalty championships is a farce. The best two rugby teams- ball handling, tackling, contact- in the world met at Old Trafford on Saturday night with Rhinos coming out on top. Roll on Super league XIV and get this boring
farrago out of the way.

  • 78.
  • At 10:36 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • nickc wrote:

Firstly to Fred and Roger-Danny Cipriani? You must be joking. I have seen him play a lot (both for Wasps 1st team and Wasps 'A'). A decent player but not international class. Far too much hype about him. He would get swallowed by SA. Also given that it is the team spirit and tough mentality which has got England this far you can't bring in new players this late. Catt and Hipkiss at 12 and 13 with Tait on the wing. Farrell on the bench. Rees on the bench too.Dallaglio not in the 22 (sad to see but he is past his best).

  • 79.
  • At 10:39 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Kevin wrote:

As a non English supporter routing for the opposition on Saturday, the comments from the English rugby public is quite humerous !! Decisions are more about which club before your country.

Come on guys, if you know anything about rugby, you will know that the squad of 30 have been together for 6 weeks in the tournament now. They have built spirit and knowledge about the game to be played. They have all trained together, they know the plays. You cannot bring in any outsiders now for the final, it would spell disaster. There is enough talent in the 30 to fill any position.

Stick with your 30, be proud of what they have achieved, win or lose, they will put up a good fight.

Good luck.

  • 80.
  • At 10:49 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Richard, Herts wrote:

Arguing on these message boards is pointless - 15vs15 on Saturday is what counts ! Go England !

  • 81.
  • At 10:51 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Bev wrote:

No!!!! Not Farrell. Please God no!

Hipkiss is the man we need. Stays on his feet, as strong as an ox.

(Mind you, as a Tigers supporter I suppose I would say that!).

  • 82.
  • At 10:54 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Ebob of Raynes Park wrote:

Pace, pace, pace on the wing. No substitute for it. Taity gets my nod with Hipkiss strength at outside centre, where he deserves a chance. And Ashton (not to mention the nation) can sleep easy........

  • 83.
  • At 11:03 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

are you all mad, the one thing the overated coaches should have learnt from this RWC is in HIGH PRESSURE games DONT PLAY PEOPLE OUT OF POSITION ie centres as fullbacks or wingers.
as well as raw pace a winger needs instict and speed of thought for both attack and defence ie sackey coming off his wing to make a tackle,going outside for the corner to score.
a centre instictively looks to cut inside as well as out and is looking to take men out with an off load and give his winger 1/2 yard or outside space.
therefore you must play cueto not tate on the wing

  • 84.
  • At 11:12 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • James wrote:

Hipkiss in at centre and Tait on the wing seems sensible. Those people criticising Tait's defence clealry aren't watching him closely - he punches well above his weight in the tackle (just ask Shane Horgan). Flood needs to be on the bench as a back up goal kicker, which logically means that there is no place for Farrell given that cover for the back three is required. Tait has played at full back for England but it isn't his best position, so we may see Abendanon on the bench as full back cover. Movig Robinson to the wing makes no sense given that he has been outstanding at full back and dealt very nicely with the high ball against RSA the first time round.
Shaun (#77) why are you bothering to post on this blog? I watched some of the rugby league on Saturday and found it very boring - five tackles and some wriggling followed by a kick does nothing for me, but each to his own. Looking forward to the packed houses and the in no way predictable competition of the next rugby league world cup though....

  • 85.
  • At 11:17 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Bert Scumbag wrote:

Surely Lewsey should be replaced by whoever is best at patting whichever Bok messes up and lets him in for a try on the head.

  • 86.
  • At 11:18 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Charlie wrote:

I'd agree with those suggesting that we shouldn't play people out of position and that we should minimise the changes to the side. That seems to make Cueto in for Lewsey a no brainer.

(I'm also baffled by the suggestions that Farrell should be parachuted into the back row. The back row has operated pretty well the last few games and nouse at the breakdown will be at a premium. I'm not even those who still see Farrell as some sort of superman would ascribe nouse at the breakdown to him.)

  • 87.
  • At 11:20 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Pete M wrote:

I agree with the majority off posts here; Hipkiss (absolute quality) in at 13, Tait at 14.

The reasoning behind it. When Hipkiss came on England, although playing well, were behind. He gave us that extra edge in midfield, which tait (albeit likely to be one of the best players England have ever produced) did not due to Hipkiss' extra strength.

Just a quick question. After the WC's over and we prepare to build for the next, does anyone see a possible long term centre partnership of Tait (12) and Hipkiss (13)?

I know Tait has been grown in the 13 mould, but the combination of dynamism and power could be a wourld beater!! Just a thought!

  • 88.
  • At 11:25 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Ken wrote:

Farrell has to be on the bench- the SA boys if things are close may use tried and tested "burgering" tactics on Jonny and i dont see how Catt will last a full 80 to use the boot up until the end.

and lets not forget, it wasnt the pace of Habana last time that caused the main problems or pieterson- it was the greater pace of the scrum half du priux (?) that was superior to perry that was the real problem. gomersall is a completely different player and they will notice that come saturday

  • 89.
  • At 11:30 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Bobby H wrote:

interesting reading - my view is I am glad a sensible chap like
Brian Ashton is making the decision instead of some of the frankly crazy comment makers on here - Brian Ashton - or Sir Brian as I am sure we will come to know him - has showed sense and dignity in defeat and in victory. He is a true gentleman and a legend of the game. I am so pleased he is getting his hour of glory now. Whatever happens on Saturday England has made this world cup special. By the way posters - Opinions without responsibility are facile.

  • 90.
  • At 11:55 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Andy C wrote:

Let's face it, without Habana the Bok's have been fairly toothless throughout. Habana also lives off scraps and/or interceptions(mostly).

Now I know it's not all about one man but England have to forget about long cut out passess as they will kill us with interceptions. they must play it tight and let the forwards and Jonny do their stuff.

England should stick with the same guys who have played well together. Tait to wing, Hipkiss in at centre and leave our most potent attacking weapon (Robinson) to come in the line whereever the hell he likes.

Abendanon should be on the bench along with Farrell.

Farrell provides solid defensive cover in the centres and god forbid, if we are chasing the game we need someone who can come on and run into gaps rather than defenders, ala Abendanon.

Cueto and Barkley don't particularly inspire at the moment do they!

  • 91.
  • At 11:55 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • tomg wrote:

10. At 07:04 PM on 15 Oct 2007, Shaun Cooper wrote:
It's a tricky decision. Hipkiss, though strong, hasn't got much pace, the same with Farrell, so that could give Pietersen and Habana, both super quick, the option to cut inside. Strettle could be a good option on the wing, though.

hes actually got lots of pace fantastic acceleration and is such a solid player. could be the most important player out of 11-15 if he starts. he is fantastic

  • 92.
  • At 11:58 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • SteveM wrote:

Kevin @79 writes sensibly. England are where they are now because they have grown as both a team and squad. Training, playing and living together for 6 weeks they know how each other works. The least changes the better. Tait on the wing, Hipkiss in the centre and Farrell on the bench (particularly if Catt's not 100% fit after his groin injury).

One final plea: This RWC is a Rugby Union event, why all the union/league antagonism ! Both codes are fantastic to play and watch for differing reasons, skills and styles of play but both embody the team and work ethic where other sports such as soccer are found wanting. As a lifelong rugby fan(RL and RU) the RWC has been tremendous,England's rise from nowhere has been one of the greatest sporting comeback achievements ever.

  • 93.
  • At 12:01 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Pinot Noir wrote:

Why the debate? it's got to be Tait - on the wing. Tait is technically a brilliant tackler. I have no fear about him in the 11 shirt and Danny Boy inside him. Hipkiss has been very unlucky not to get more run outs and he is a game breaker. He was awesome on Sat. Who was the plonker who said Hipkiss lacks pace? Holy cow only in comparison to Habana and a few others.

Got to be same backline as we finished on sat eve.

The only other decision is who plays hooker. Ronnie or George. Tricky. Although Ronnie had a shocker against the Boks first time around, maybe we should keep it as it is, although Chutes is definitley the best all round hooker we have got.

As Delia Smith said: Come on, let's be 'avin' yer!

  • 94.
  • At 01:07 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Robert Remedios wrote:

Play Cueto on the wing and Robinson at full back. Cueto is a winger not a full back and therefore his performance at that position for England should be disregarded. He is quick, strong and a proven try scorer. Let Robinson "Mr Reliable" catch all those boring SA high kicks and start some explosive runs which will shut up those that knock our less than expansive game!!

  • 95.
  • At 01:20 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Granthamian wrote:

Is Vainikolo really one of ours now? What are we waiting for!!

  • 96.
  • At 01:32 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • James wrote:

I have nothing against Andy Farrell but if you have him on the bench ahead of Flood there is no proper place kicking back up if Wilkinson is injured. Catt can't place kick anymore because of a bad back, Gomersall is not a practised kicker and Farrell has only kicked in league where forty to fifty metre penalties are not the vogue. Additionally, we saw how well Catt and Farrell went at 10 and 12 the last time we played South Africa so a proper ten needs to be on the bench - my preference would be for Flood.

  • 97.
  • At 02:01 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • richard wrote:

You can't play Farrell! Someone said play him at 13, he hasn't even got the pace for a 6 let alone 13. Bring in Hipkiss, he's a quality player. Good feet, strong in contact alowing support runners more time, and a knack of finding holes which Catty will help him through. Put Tait on the wing, loads of gas and he's been ever present this tournament. Flood on the bench is a great option to have along with Cueto who is a match winner unlike Farell who may be good for damage limitation but we need amatch winners / impact players on the bench. We're in this to win it..............WE CAN DO IT!!!!!!

  • 98.
  • At 02:19 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Col B wrote:

Some bizarre comments re Faz. A) He plays inside centre not outside, so no comparison with Hipkiss. B) He also played lots of his rugby for Wigan at Stand Off. C) He was one of the most outstanding goal kickers in rugby league history.

However, none of this is the issue. Lewsey is out. Tait looked ok on the wing against France. Hipkiss did really well at outside centre. Key to it is Brian Ashton - he has handled it all well so far.

Not a huge fan of Mike Catt but he has lots of experience and JW seems happier with him there. I don't believe in change for change sake. The guys clearly have a tremendous bond which has taken them this far. Lets just hope for an England win..if not then at least let the guys who play perform with the immense physical commitment shown in the last 2 games. We can ask for no more!! CAN WE??

  • 99.
  • At 02:23 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Cromwellsbrain wrote:

What a load of old nonsense... Thankfully one or two make sense, but calls for Strettle (injured); Farrell in the outside berth (!); Cipriani and Abendanon to join the squad and play on Saturday are all postings of the blazered, old rugger boys, whom the rest of the rugby world despise. And they are right to do so.

Keep the squad together. They have trained as a squad for two months and it is this cohesion that has dragged us, remarkably, to the Final. That and the doggedness of Ashton to defer his vision of heads-up rugby in favour of this narrow, forward-dominated game plan. Let Ashton pick from Cueto OR Hipkiss, with Tait accommodating either, but staying in the starting XV. I accept the earlier point that Tait will come back in field, if played wide. That is exactly what Sackey does as this is where our enormous pack will be to re-cycle - and our breakdown game is 100% better than the shambles we saw in the early pool games. Well done, John Wells!

Frankly I am a bit embarrassed that we are still here on the final Saturday. All of the envy and bile coming from our antipodean friends is based largely on fair criticism.... but we have focussed on our strengths; limited errors and not conceded penalties in damaging areas of the pitch. In short, we deserved to win the last two games and to be in the Final. No more apologies from me; let's enjoy!

  • 100.
  • At 02:36 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • tracker wrote:

lets just call up Vainikolo and let him run in 4 tries in the last 15......;)

  • 101.
  • At 03:29 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Heath wrote:

on the positive side Lewsey, will be replaced by a former South African. That should help Engald a bit

  • 102.
  • At 04:03 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • David Hicks wrote:

To replace Lewsey you need a real sprinter and a hard hitter. Especailly someone who has a chance of keeping up with Habana. There is only one player who fits this description - Ugo Monye. This guy probably the fastest player in rugby, he made the olympic 100 meters qualifying time of 10.6 seconds at the age of 16. He can also tackle well. He may not have been involved at this level before, especially not in this environment. He proved himself as a quality winger during 7's tournaments and for England Saxons.

  • 103.
  • At 06:13 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • tomtom wrote:

patriot i knowyou havent written on here for a while but you are an idiot. farrell didnt even play full back against sa. you have to understand that he isnt as accustomed to the game of union as league and that just because he was "class" at league it doesnt mean he will slip perfectly intot the england team... abendannon to start, i know its a gamble but he could provide a cutting edge that england have lAcked in the try scoring department and if it doesnt work take him off. i know him well and he will put his life and body on the line for his country especially against sa. patriot im not entirely sure about whta you mean by me being sven, pleasde elaborate. tait and hipkiss centres robinson sackey and abendanonn with cueto as cover on the bench! patriot conan come back and tgalk when you have understood that this isnt a matter of "class" but form and also get your facts right!

  • 104.
  • At 09:05 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • patriot_conan wrote:

tomtom, i meant to say flyhalf. it's not my fault bbc won't let me edit ; )

and Farrell was played out of position for much of the SA match; NOBODY had a good performance in that match; and when Farrell was played against Tonga in his usual position and with support, he scored and put the match away.

people are just against him because they hate the RL, imo. yes, they are different sports, but it's not like he was a cricket player now trying to switch to RU.

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