With the first of England’s three June internationals against the All Blacks over and done with, it’s time to look ahead to next weeks game in Auckland. Although the team performed admirably despite missing a number of first XV players, it seems inevitable that a number of the Northampton and Saracens players are likely to be drafted into the team. With this in mind here’s my starting XV for next week’s test;
15. Mike Brown
Goes without saying really that Brown is England’s starting full back. He may not have had his best game in an England shirt this weekend but he was solid enough and has more than enough credit in the bank to ensure he starts once again next week.
14. Marland Yarde
Had a fairly quiet game on Saturday but has shown enough to suggest he has all the qualities to make it on the international stage. Yarde’s defensive attributes ensure he starts ahead of other wing options this week as the All Blacks are likely to be firing on all cylinders next week.
13. Luther Burrell
Burrell and Twelvetrees seemed to develop a promising partnership during the 6 Nations meaning the pairing deserve some more time together to see how they can develop. His three tries in five appearances and ability to break the gainline could help pose the All Blacks defence some problems.
12. Billy Twelvetrees
Eastmond is another players unlucky to miss out after a decent showing in the first test, however Twelvetrees partnership with Burrell wins through. Twelvetrees playmaking ability could help unleash the power players outside of him whilst helping to improve England’s kicking options.
11. Manu Tuilagi
Possibly the most controversial choice in this line-up but Tuilagi’s past experience on the wing at youth level combined with the centre partnership make this an interesting option. Tuilagi has plenty of power and pace to burn and could help to draw the All Blacks defence out wide.
10. Owen Farrell
For the first time in years the selection of England’s fly half takes some thinking. Myler is unlucky to miss out after outplaying Farrell in the final whilst Burns did enough to earn himself consideration this weekend, however Farrell’s improvement’s during the 6 Nations means he deserves another shot.
9. Danny Care
Possibly England’s biggest loss in the first test was Danny Care as despite a solid performance from Ben Youngs, England lacked a threat around the breakdown. Care will add an extra dimension to England’s attack whilst keeping the All Blacks on their toes with his quick tap penalties.
1. Joe Marler
With Alex Corbisiero and Mako Vunipola both at home the choice seems fairly simple for Stuart Lancaster, especially given Marler’s recent form. The new engagement laws have really helped Marler’s scrummaging and mean he is capable of competing at the very top level.
2. Dylan Hartley
Rob Webber is another player unlucky to be dropped from the starting XV after a solid showing in the first test. Despite this though Hartley deserves a shot after a solid 6 Nations and is likely to be on a huge high after just winning the Premiership with Northampton.
3. David Wilson
A solid scrummaging performance from Wilson more than compensated for a few dropped balls during the first test and mean he retains his place. England aren’t exactly blessed with options at tighthead so the extra international experience for Wilson is definitely a positive.
4. Joe Launchbury
One of the first names on the team sheet these days, Launchbury is regularly one of England’s outstanding forwards and acts as an extra back rower. His partnership with Lawes is blossoming into one of the best second rows in the world right now.
5. Courtney Lawes
Geoff Parling once again proved his international credentials in the first match and ensured England’s line out was solid. Despite this Lawes dynamic partnership with Launchbury and ability to lead the line out mean he returns to the starting line-up.
6. Tom Wood
This was another particularly tough decision after a solid return to the international stage by James Haskell. Despite this Lancaster needs to continue developing England’s partnerships ahead of the World Cup, especially with the way the back row performed during the 6 Nations.
7. Chris Robshaw
Whilst many people are still calling for England to play a ‘traditional 7’ Robshaw continues to defy his critics with top class performances. He may not be the flashiest player but is always a stand-out performer for England and leads by example on every occasion.
8. Billy Vunipola
It is hard to drop Ben Morgan after a good showing during the first test, however Vunipola’s dynamism mean he gets the nod. His ability to break the gainline and improving off-loading game is somewhat Kieran Reid-esque so he needs to be given the game time to be allowed to develop into a top class Number 8.
16. Rob Webber
Webber did more than enough in the first test to ensure he deserves a spot on the bench at the very least.
17. Alex Waller
The Northampton man has had a stellar season for the Saints and looks ready for a shot at the international stage.
18. Kyle Sinckler
Indifferent performances by Thomas mean Sinckler deserves a shot after a breakthrough season for Quins.
19. Dave Attwood
Parling is very unlucky to miss out but Attwood’s additional bulk will help support Sinckler during the scrum.
20. James Haskell
Ben Morgan is very unlucky to miss out but Haskell’s ability to cover all back row positions means he gets the nod.
21. Lee Dickson
The Saints man may not be as dynamic as Care but can help speed up England’s game later in the second half.
22. Stephen Myler
Myler may not be a long-term option for England but has shone this season and deserves a chance in the team.
23. Alex Goode
Goode may not be as much of a game changer as other bench options but provides solid cover in a number of positions.