Here are the five changes we would make to the England squad that beat Ireland this weekend when they face Wales in two weeks time…

1. Danny Care starts at scrum half

This isn’t a criticism of Ben Youngs who has played well and therefore comes on off the bench, but an acknowledgement of the impact Care has had in the last two games. The urgency of England’s play seems to immediately creep up a notch as soon as Care enters the fray, and against a solid defensive unit like Wales, the extra pace of delivery from the breakdown could help England’s outside backs exploit any potential weaknesses in the defence.

2. Jack Clifford starts in the back row

Clifford could arguably replace either Haskell or Robshaw in the starting XV, but for me he has shown more than enough to suggest he should be given more game time. He came on against Ireland and made an immediate impact, especially with a key turnover. Although Haskell and Robshaw have both played well, Clifford adds an extra element of dynamism into England’s back row play which could be vital when playing against the likes of Sam Warburton.


3. Mako Vunipola starts at loosehead

Again, this isn’t a case of Joe Marler starting, but is more to do with Vunipola’s extra impact around the pitch. Although he makes an excellent impact substitute, his ball carrying could be vital against Wales and may just help take some of the inevitable heat off his brother Billy who will be targeted early due to his impressive ball carrying recently. It also means Marler can come on in the last 20 and hopefully get England on the front foot in the scrums.

4. Kieran Brookes comes onto the bench

Paul Hill has shown that he has a huge future ahead of him for England, but given his young age, Jones clearly doesn’t have a huge amount of trust in him meaning he isn’t being utilised in tight games. England therefore need an option on the bench who can come on and replace Dan Cole later in the game to keep things fresh, therefore the inclusion of the experienced Brookes on the bench means Cole can go all out for 60 minutes before potentially being replaced.

5. Ollie Devoto comes back onto the bench

Unfortunately Elliott Daly wasn’t really given the time necessary to make an impact against Ireland, and should therefore retain his spot on the bench where he can cover full back, centre and wing. This means Devoto steps in for Alex Goode who is undoubtedly a solid player, but probably lacks a little bit of impact. This means England have the option of bringing a big inside centre to face up against the power of Wales’ Jamie Roberts.


That would leave the matchday squad looking like this…

15. Mike Brown

14. Anthony Watson

13. Jonathan Joseph

12. Owen Farrell

11. Jack Nowell

10. George Ford

9. Danny Care

8. Billy Vunipola

7. Jack Clifford

6. Chris Robshaw

5. George Kruis

4. Maro Itoje

3. Dan Cole

2. Dylan Hartley

1. Mako Vunipola

16. Jamie George

17. Joe Marler

18. Kieran Brookes

19. Joe Launchbury

20. James Haskell

21. Ben Youngs

22. Ollie Devoto

23. Elliott Daly