After a disappointing few weeks, maybe it’s time for England to re-evaluate their team and look at a side more like this;
Ok so Brown may not have had the greatest of seasons so far but it’s all too easy to forget the fact that he was England’s best player during last seasons Autumn Internationals and Six Nations. If he can refind that form then he can be considered amongst the top full backs in the Northern Hemisphere.
Rokoduguni was extremely unlucky to pick up an injury against the All Blacks which has hampered his progress for England. He should come back into consideration asap though given the outstanding form he has been showing for Bath so far this year.
Tuilagi may not be as well rounded as a player like Conrad Smith, but there’s no doubting that he is one the few current England players who can genuinely worry opponents. His ability to get over the gainline is seriously impressive and would give front foot ball to the back three.
Burgess hasn’t played a single minute of professional rugby union yet so this selection may be a bit premature, but if he’s half the player in union he was in league then he’s destined for greatness. He has all the natural attributes to success, now he just needs to adapt to the nuances of union.
Whilst Jonny May have been taking many of the plaudits for his try scoring form in recent weeks, it has been Watson who has most impressed me. His ability to slip tackles and see what others don’t is impressive and his ability to cover full back makes him a useful addition.
This one was a close one between Ford and Cipriani but for me the Sale man wins out. He plays right up on the gain line and is an expert in putting players into space which could be deadly with Burgess and Tuilagi outside of him. He is also a fantastic tactical kicker which would get England playing in the right areas.
Much like his Quins teammate Brown, Danny Care has had a disappointing season by his previous standards. Despite this he is still England’s most potent scrum half, and a half back combination of him and Cipriani would be something to really savour.
Corbisiero looks like he is going to be one of those perennial injured players unfortunately, however should he get fit he is no doubt one of the best scrummagers in world rugby. Corbisiero is the kind of player who would help ensure that England’s scrum was always on the front foot.
Hartley is now one of England’s most experienced players, and has proved his value to the team with his incredible line out stats over the last few weeks. The platform England’s line out provides is one which will help them win games, and for that reason Hartley has to start.
The loss of Dan Cole to England in recent months has been somewhat offset by David Wilson’s fine form, however there is no doubting that Cole is one of rugby’s finest tighthead scrummagers. If he can remain fit ahead of the World Cup then he will be a key man for England.
Joe Launchbury is one of the most effective locks in the the northern hemisphere right now, yet barely gets noticed throughout a game. There’s no doubting England have been missing his work at the breakdown in recent weeks, whilst he compliments Courtney Lawes nicely.
With Geoff Parling spending most of the last 12 months out with injuries, Courtney Lawes has taken up responsibility for the line-out which has been functioning well with clubmate Dylan Hartley. He also brings some much needed aggression into the England pack.
Robshaw is often unfairly criticised for his work, or lack thereof at the breakdown. The reality is that Robshaw is a fine player in his own right but isn’t a scavenging seven in the mould of Richie McCaw. What he is though is a tackling machine who will provide Armitage with opportunities to win turnover ball.
English eligibility laws rule Armitage out of selection at the moment, but if Lancaster and his team are serious about winning the World Cup they need to take another look at this. Armitage is an x factor player who will win England turnovers and carry hard – both are currently missing from England’s back row.
In recent weeks Ben Morgan has proven himself to be the more competent of England’s first choice number 8’s. He has shown he has a ‘rugby brain’ and is also a fantastic ball carrier who will help get his side on the front foot and over the gain line.
Webber has now done enough to ensure Tom Youngs will have to play out of his skin to even earn a place on the England bench. His throwing still isn’t quite as good as Hartley’s but in every other respect he is the ideal replacement.
Vunipola may not be as proficient a scrummager as Joe Marler, but what he does bring is a ball carrying ability. Bringing Vunipola on in the dying minutes against tiring defences could be the ideal way of getting England moving in the right direction.
Wilson has proven himself to be a more than able deputy for Dan Cole, and quite possibly a contender for the starting shirt when both are fit. Despite this, for me Cole is the more proficient scrummager and so should start, but England certainly wouldn’t be weakened significantly by the introduction of Wilson.
Whilst Lawes may throw himself head first into tackles with plenty of aggression, what Attwood offers is a real physical presence. He is the ideal man to bring on to shore up the scrum and give England some extra ballast in the pack.
Haskell’s versatility sees him edge in ahead of his rivals in the back row given he is capable of covering all three positions. He is also one of England’s most experienced players so will bring leadership qualities to the fore.
Scrum half used to be an area of real strength for England, but unfortunately all of the key men seem to have gone off the boil at the wrong time. If Youngs could get his form back though then he will be challenging Care for a place in the starting line-up.
It’s tempting to put George Ford in here, however Slade’s versatility sees him prioritised. He is able to cover both midfield positions and fly half so is ideal for the bench. His form for Exeter so far this season has been nothing short of excellent so he deserves his chance.
Doubts may still linger over Wade’s defence, however if England are trailing in the final minutes of a game, who better to bring on? Wade has shown he is capable of scoring tries in the tightest of spaces and his pace is sure to worry opposition defences.
Who do you think should be in the England team for next years World Cup?