We take a look at the 10 key talking points from this weeks World Cup squad announcement by England coach Stuart Lancaster…
10.There are concerns over who will play centre
With Manu Tuilagi confirmed as missing out on the World Cup, it is clear England are unsure as to who to play alongside Jonathan Joseph in the centres. This has seen them include 10 players who can potentially play in the centres, ranging from more experienced players like Billy Twelvetrees through to the likes of Henry Slade and Elliot Daly.
9.Who will miss out
With 50 players named in the initial training squad, it is guaranteed that 19 of them will miss out on the eventual squad. Whilst it is obvious that some positions are currently over-subscribed (there are four fly halves plus a couple of centres who can cover 10), it is not immediately clear who the majority of those to be released will be.
There are no guarantees that he will make the final cut, however the inclusion of Sam Burgess suggests that he is in with at least a shot. The debate now is whether he is being seen as a centre or flanker by the England management team. It will be interesting to see if he can now go on and prove himself.
7.The recalled players
There are several names in the announcement who may not have been expected given their absence for England over the last 12 months. The most obvious of these players is Chris Ashton, however the likes of Stephen Myler, David Strettle and Lee Dickson may not have been expecting a call-up given their lack of recent playing time.
6.There are clearly concerns on the wings
Within the 50 man squad, there are at least eight players who could be in contention for a place on the wings, suggesting that the England coaching staff aren’t entirely sure as to who their best option is. There is a nice blend of youth and experience, so it looks likely we could see a mix of players included in the final squad.
5.The uncapped players
Lancaster has made the bold move of including a number of uncapped players in his initial training squad. There are six players within the squad who don’t currently have a cap to their name, and it’s entirely possible one or more of these may make the final cut. It is nice to see players being selected on form rather than experience on this front.
4.The tight five look fairly settled
Other than the inclusion of Maro Itoje and Luke Cowan-Dickie, there are no great surprises in the selections within the tight five. Several of these players will clearly be whittled down before the final squad is announced, however they all have a good deal of experience, so fans are unlikely to be too upset, no matter who misses out.
3.There has been an emphasis on experience
From the continued inclusion of Nick Easter, through to re-calls for David Strettle and Chris Ashton, it is clear that there has been a great deal of emphasis on trying to bolster the experience of the squad. This could help create a nice blend with some of the younger players who have also received call-ups.
2.Who will be the back-up fly half
Whilst George Ford looks set to start, the debate then moves on to who is likely to back him up. Is there a need to include a specialist back-up fly half when players like Henry Slade and Owen Farrell can cover 10, 12 and 13? Does this mean Danny Cipriani and Stephen Myler may find themselves surplus to requirements?
1.Who is still yet to make it?
Inevitably there will be injuries in the build up to the World Cup which means we may see other players drafted into the squad. Could players like Joe Simpson, Semesa Rokoduguni and Dave Ewers still feature? Or could there even be a dramatic late call-up of Steffon Armitage or Nick Abendanon if injury strikes?