England team changes for the rest of Six Nations

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Post by Recwatcher16 on Sun 12 Feb 2017, 10:35 pm

First topic message reminder :

Looks like Mako Vunipola will be available for the Italy game, with George, Sinkler, Haskell and Teo all starting. Billy Vunipola on schedule for the Irish game, although I will believe that when I see it, given his injury. Watson will also now be ready for Italian game and- is this the game for Brown to be 'rested' ?

I can see Clifford, Haskell & Hughes being a more balanced back row with Itoje moving forward, although how EJ would choose between Launchbury & Lawes is anyone's guess. Looking further forward and slightly left field, a Hughes, Haskell and Vunipola combo for the Irish game ?

I like the look of Teo whose running lines look top notch and if Hartley is benched clearly Farrell will be at ten with the armband, with Ford perhaps as the impact FH when bodies start to tire.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/rugby-union/2017/02/12/billy-mako-vunipola-set-give-england-six-nations-grand-slam/

Ps. The internet link above is not the full title of the article, before anyone jumps on it.......

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Post by beshocked on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 10:48 am

Do you seriously think that there weren't weaknesses against France and Wales? It's not as if England cantered home with something to spare. England aren't the finished article. Need to keep striving for improvement.

The performance against France was perhaps the worst we've seen under Eddie IMO.  Performance vs Wales was better but still it was a tough old game and if Wales had made more of their opportunities....

Not requirement for new blood? You think Brown is performing well? There are certain players not performing well enough.

Reminds me of 2011 so far.... If England are going to prevent another defeat in Ireland they need to do the preparation now.

Do you think the Irish will be as obliging to allow a comeback? Perhaps, perhaps not. Ireland in Ireland has always been the toughest game.

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Post by Scottrf on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 10:51 am

Would agree with that. Winning doesn't mean everything is great and can't be changed. But I think there is more to consider than just who is playing better, especially in changing the captain and an important position.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 10:54 am

There is no immediate need though to make changed. Like I said there'll be changes against Italy but I don't think it's a necessity for us to win a title. There's not much difference between a lot of these calls.

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Post by beshocked on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 11:00 am

scottrf Well I disagree because making the changes have meant the difference between victory and defeat. The captain has come off and it's strengthened the side not weakened it. When that is happening of course you have to question the captain's importance.

I don't think England can afford to come from behind in every single game in the 6 nations as eventually they won't be able to overhaul the opposition. I'd rather a team builds a lead and defends it rather than having to chase. Especially in Ireland I believe a strong start is necessary for victory.

no 7 & 1/2 depends if you want England to beat Ireland or not.... If you're happy to lose then fair enough, England shouldn't strive to improve.

You say there's not much difference - the difference can be winning or losing.

England-Italy at home is a great opportunity to make some changes.

I should add I'd be glad if Mako only makes the bench and isn't rushed back into the starting line up.

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Post by cascough on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 11:08 am

beshocked wrote:

cascough Hartley didn't play in the fight backs vs France and Wales unless we assume that Hartley was the puppet master controlling the England players with mind control.

Elliot Daly was being mind controlled by Hartley.... it was him we should be praising for the try vs Wales.... OK Or indeed he made Cuthbert miss the tackle....

His leadership from the stands was pivotal. Laugh

Did you read my post?

What about it made you think I was saying his presence on the field in the dying moments of a game is necessary?

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 11:14 am

Like I said I think in general the squad is very good and a number of players could come in with not too much difference. Personally I don't feel replacing Hartley and Brown in the starting lineup against Ireland would take us from a certain defeat to winning. I'm quietly confident and put my hat in the ring prior to the start at sneaking another gs. Miles to go yet and Ireland away on St patricks is far from a cake walk though.

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Post by beshocked on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 11:21 am

cascough wrote:
beshocked wrote:

cascough Hartley didn't play in the fight backs vs France and Wales unless we assume that Hartley was the puppet master controlling the England players with mind control.

Elliot Daly was being mind controlled by Hartley.... it was him we should be praising for the try vs Wales.... OK Or indeed he made Cuthbert miss the tackle....

His leadership from the stands was pivotal. Laugh

Did you read my post?

What about it made you think I was saying his presence on the field in the dying moments of a game is necessary?

Hartley isn't giving the other England player's mental strength from the bench. You mentioned mental strength.

Forgetting that there's a lot of experienced players in the squad already.

Not as if a lot of these players were mentally fragile before Hartley showed up.... Laugh

If anything I'd say Hartley is benefiting from others not the other way round, he hasn't had the same effect for his own club.

He's in a better set up. I'd say the coaches have been more important. It's not the Hartley show.

no 7 & 1/2 sorry I think that's rubbish. Haskell was so much better than Clifford. Billy seems to be a level above Hughes as things stand. I think George is superior to Hartley obviously. With Mako back in the squad it will add a lot. With Watson back he'll add some more competition.

Robson sadly had a shocker vs Sale which I don't think has helped his chances of a call up at 9, I'd start Care vs Italy though.

Brown in my opinion is looking replacable.

Robshaw back in the backrow would add a lot.

I've been impressed by Teo and so far he's added a lot in his cameos off the bench.

I think this England side can go up another level or two.

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Post by robbo277 on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 11:27 am

cascough wrote:
robbo277 wrote:
cascough wrote:
Scottrf wrote:The scrum has been fine with Hartley, the lineout has been fine with Hartley. Job done. Whatever else George might offer, it's not a huge surprise that replacing a captain on such a streak isn't top of Jones' priorities. Do you risk a new captain, 10 lineouts and and 5 scrums for a flashy play or two?

I think George is the better hooker for a while but it's not quite that simple.

Agreed entirely.

I think we are in a pretty nice place to be THAT solid and have Hartleys leadership to call on (not just in games, he is Jones' conduit in training too) and then have a player as good as George coming off the bench to effect games.

Are we overstating Hartley's importance though?

You can be a leader in training regardless of your match day role, and if Hartley isn't playing much more than a half anyway, does it matter which half?


Quite possibly robbo.

It seems to me though that the biggest improvement under Eddie Jones hasn't been in terms of skills, gameplan or even individual players performance, rather it's been the attitude and mental strength.

We are constantly hearing from the England coaching team and players what a good job Hartley does at setting the tone, conveying Jones message etc etc. You may be right, he might be able to do that without the label as captain, but this mental edge is such a precious commodity I'd be hesitant to upset that apple cart.

I guess it's always a good sign when you're arguing two players' merits as opposed to two players' failings in a selection debate, but there is no clear cut answer. I think George against Italy makes sense, and if the team start slow you may question whether that is down to Hartley's absence, but I think George should at least get that one to start.

I also heard something from Borthwick about the accuracy of Hartley's throws. It isn't a case of line-outs won x out of y, they look at more detailed data and Hartley is not just retaining ball at the line-out, but providing quality set-piece ball that we can play off.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 11:29 am

It will yes. It real terms it's not that experienced. Haskell will be nearing full fitness. Billy is out injured so a moot point and Mako coming back from injury. Mako should be great from the bench in the next few games. Brown was poor last game but given your desire for experienced players sometimes I assume you're not seriously suggesting a change in this 6n.

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Post by beshocked on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 11:47 am

In real terms? Most of them have been part of a winning GS squad now. Beaten the Aussies away from home. Have managed to win some tough matches. Even some of them have HC and AP medals....

It's also easier to come into a winning team.

If you don't make a change vs Italy then when? Perhaps wait for a really tough game like you normally want to do it?


Hartley's throwing against France was incredible, particularly the one where he threw it at his own players who weren't jumping.

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Post by cascough on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 11:48 am

beshocked wrote:

Hartley isn't giving the other England player's mental strength from the bench. You mentioned mental strength.

I did mention mental strength, I mentioned it in the context of the entire set up, training etc. There was absolutely no need for your facetious puppet master remarks.

beshocked wrote:
Forgetting that there's a lot of experienced players in the squad already.

I'm not forgetting that, nor does my post imply that i am. We're talking about Hartley, remember?

beshocked wrote:

Not as if a lot of these players were mentally fragile before Hartley showed up.... Laugh

Forget Hartley for a second, they were mentally fragile before Jones turned up.

beshocked wrote:

If anything I'd say Hartley is benefiting from others not the other way round, he hasn't had the same effect for his own club.

I've no doubt Hartley is benefiting from such a positive well run environment. All players would. Northampton are in somewhat disarray, a few things wrong there I'd wager.

beshocked wrote:

He's in a better set up. I'd say the coaches have been more important. It's not the Hartley show.

Completely agree, but actually out of everyone here you are the one who is making it most about Hartley. The coaches have clearly done a fantastic job but Hartley is the tool they have selected to set an example to the players in terms of mindset, mentality etc. We constantly hear he is very good at that. We can see from the games themselves that England possess a fantastic mentality. My post was about not wanting to mess with that and preserve this mentality. As I said to robbo, it's possible he could set the same example without being captain, and you could get your wish and have George starting, but it's not worth the risk in my eyes. Things are going very well.

You're desperate to have George starting because you like him as he's a Saracens player (fair) and you think he's a better player than Hartley (fair). But when people counter that it's not black and white and provide you reasoning you are very dismissive without ever actually addressing their reasons. Or in the case of my post, you just misrepresent what I've said. Not so good.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 11:56 am

In terms of caps yes this England team isn't very experienced. I would make a couple of changes vs Italy but likely swap them back for Scotland.

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Post by beshocked on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 12:48 pm

cascough wrote:
beshocked wrote:

Hartley isn't giving the other England player's mental strength from the bench. You mentioned mental strength.

I did mention mental strength, I mentioned it in the context of the entire set up, training etc. There was absolutely no need for your facetious puppet master remarks.

beshocked wrote:
Forgetting that there's a lot of experienced players in the squad already.

I'm not forgetting that, nor does my post imply that i am. We're talking about Hartley, remember?

beshocked wrote:

Not as if a lot of these players were mentally fragile before Hartley showed up.... Laugh

Forget Hartley for a second, they were mentally fragile before Jones turned up.

beshocked wrote:

If anything I'd say Hartley is benefiting from others not the other way round, he hasn't had the same effect for his own club.

I've no doubt Hartley is benefiting from such a positive well run environment. All players would. Northampton are in somewhat disarray, a few things wrong there I'd wager.

beshocked wrote:

He's in a better set up. I'd say the coaches have been more important. It's not the Hartley show.

Completely agree, but actually out of everyone here you are the one who is making it most about Hartley. The coaches have clearly done a fantastic job but Hartley is the tool they have selected to set an example to the players in terms of mindset, mentality etc. We constantly hear he is very good at that. We can see from the games themselves that England possess a fantastic mentality. My post was about not wanting to mess with that and preserve this mentality. As I said to robbo, it's possible he could set the same example without being captain, and you could get your wish and have George starting, but it's not worth the risk in my eyes. Things are going very well.

You're desperate to have George starting because you like him as he's a Saracens player (fair) and you think he's a better player than Hartley (fair). But when people counter that it's not black and white and provide you reasoning you are very dismissive without ever actually addressing their reasons. Or in the case of my post, you just misrepresent what I've said. Not so good.

Not really. He's been picked as captain, he's been undroppable by Jones irrespective of how he performs on the pitch. He's been replaced sure but he has started every single time. It hasn't mattered whether England have played well or not.

Well I hope not... biting and punching isn't the best mindset to have. England have a fantastic mentality but I don't think Hartley should take 100% credit for that.

I think England got away with it vs France and Wales - winning mainly due to the reinforcements on the bench. This has been ignored. Winning is good of course but you need to look at what can be improved. I think England beat them despite having Hartley in the line up, not because he was there.

I agree that there are reasons to keep Hartley, he's the captain, his leadership has been applauded.

I just think you can keep him in the squad but don't need to start him. Perhaps send him back to his club.

I am desperate to have George starting because I think enough is enough, he's waited so long and he's been outperforming Hartley for a long time. He's not been the superior player for merely a couple of games, he's been consistently better over a couple of seasons.

The counter is George shouldn't start because Hartley is captain. Is it a good enough reason? Not in my opinion no. I do think the coaching has been more important.

no 7 & 1/2 disagree.

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Post by robbo277 on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 12:54 pm

beshocked wrote:In real terms? Most of them have been part of a winning GS squad now. Beaten the Aussies away from home. Have managed to win some tough matches. Even some of them have HC and AP medals....

It's also easier to come into a winning team.

If you don't make a change vs Italy then when? Perhaps wait for a really tough game like you normally want to do it?


Hartley's throwing against France was incredible, particularly the one where he threw it at his own players who weren't jumping.

Then shouldn't the players have jumped? It's a free kick for delaying the throw. It was a mix-up, but if no-one went up then you can't blame it on the thrower.

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Post by cascough on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 12:54 pm

This is becoming hard work.

Perhaps he is "undroppable" because of more than just what he does on the pitch?

I don't think Hartley should take 100% credit for Englands mentality either. I didn't say he should. But his coaches and teammates consistently say he is a big part of it.

Your point about reinforcements on the bench absolutely has not being ignored, stop telling lies. Many people have acknowledged the value of having strong "finishers" as Jones likes to call them. In this particular case some people like having George being fresh at 50-60 minutes because he is such a good player.


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Post by beshocked on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 1:05 pm

If he's more important for not being on the pitch perhaps he should just become a cheerleader or England team motivator. He's not performing well enough on the pitch. Perhaps some fans are happy enough with 5 or 6/10 performances because Hartley adds more off the pitch. It's not enough in my opinion.

Or if he wants he can become "training" captain, it means he can look after the training but leave the actual playing to those performing.

Well there are some saying - everything is fine, we are winning, there's nothing to fix. Let's not prepare for tougher games, let's just pretend everything is working.

Yes England are winning but they just about got over the line thanks to the finishers.

They are "finishers" because England aren't starting them. Most sides don't leave some of their best players on the bench - they generally start them.

Some people like playing their best players for 20 instead of at least 50-60 minutes.... I find that baffling but each to their own I guess.

I am not saying Hartley doesn't deserve some credit for England performing better than under Lancaster but on the other hand I think getting in a superior coaching set up and usage of the bench has been more important.

Getting the best out of someone like Haskell, I think has been more important. Getting big performances out of Haskell instead of a good performance 1 in 5 games.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 1:10 pm

What team would you like to see along with the bench. Assuming everyone plays well in a thumping against Italy they'd likely be kept for Scotland and Ireland in your eyes?

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Post by cascough on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 1:41 pm

Brown, Nowell, JJ, Farrell, Daly, Ford, Youngs, Marler, Hartley, Sinckler, Itoje, Lawes, Wood, Haskell, Hughes

Vunipola, George, Cole, Launchbury, Clifford, Te'o, May, Watson.

Would like to see more of Sinckler and also Watson to get a cameo at fullback. Otherwise, continuity is all important if we are to find that fluidity that is missing.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 1:46 pm

Yeah I'd like to see more of Sinckler against a fresh pack to see his impact as a starter. He's looked pretty impressive in the scrum so far which has surprised me, thought Hill had leapfrogged him. I'd still like to see Clifford get a few games in a row now as well.

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Post by beshocked on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 3:40 pm

Continuity was something Lancaster wanted in the run up to the RWC. Worked really well. OK I know no 7 & 1/2 you are part of the Lancaster fan club.

So no 7 & 1/2 you don't want to see George against a fresh pack? Are you worried that he'll permanently take the place of the seemingly undroppable deity? Seems to be the case.

So you want to see the poorly performing Clifford to be given another go? Where's the consistency with you?

Is it the worse a player plays the more frequently you want them starting for England? Seems to be the case - reward poor form and punish those playing well.

Whereas I'd rather see England play the best players.

What exactly has Sinckler done to warrant being picked ahead of Cole? I thought you wanted continuity?

He's been solid off the bench but George obviously deserves a start much more.


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Post by Scottrf on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 3:42 pm

beshocked wrote:Whereas I'd rather see England play the Saracens players.
FTFY.

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Post by beshocked on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 3:47 pm

Scottrf wrote:
beshocked wrote:Whereas I'd rather see England play the Saracens players.
FTFY.

Mako should be on the bench as he's not yet up to speed, of course Saints players don't need to be fully match fit..... Whistle Don't even need to play well to be picked in the starting line up.  Laugh

Nope, just about playing the best players. Not bothered if Itoje is on the bench as Launchbury and Lawes did pretty well vs Wales. Any of the 3 locks in the 23 is fine.

I want England to win, won't win if you have passengers in the England team. It's why replacements were needed vs France and Wales.

If the captain isn't good enough he needs to be dropped, simple.


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Post by No 7&1/2 on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 3:49 pm

Why would I be worried about Hartley being dropped? Why do I lack consistency in regards to Clifford, not sure I understand that point?

In relation to Sinckler I still see him as one of 2 potential back ups to Cole along with Hill. I've considered Sinckler to be lacking a little at scrum time and Hill to be very promising there to say the least. As I said I want to see more of Sinckler as if he continues to impress there especially against a fresh first choice scrum. I see George and Hartley as clearly top 2 so less need to see them swap out.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 3:50 pm

You consider Hartley as not good enough? What's your team for Italy?

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Post by beshocked on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 4:01 pm


no 7 & 1/2

No you are right. You shouldn't be worried. Jones won't drop Hartley. I shouldn't really be discussing it. We all know it won't happen.

Clifford was poor vs Wales why reward his poor play? Is that what you want? let's give you even more game time?

Sinckler could do with some gametime perhaps but no more than others.

It's more like Hartley is no 1 and George is a distance 2nd and no one else is even on the radar.

1.Marler
2.George
3.Sinckler
4.Lawes
5.Launchbury
6.Itoje
7.Haskell
8.Hughes

9.Care
10.Farrell
11.Daly
12.Teo
13.Joseph
14.Nowell
15.Brown

16.Vunipola
17.Hartley
16.Cole
19.Wood
20.Clifford
21.Youngs
22.Ford
23.Watson

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Post by Scottrf on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 4:03 pm

beshocked wrote:It's more like Hartley is no 1 and George is a distance 2nd and no one else is even on the radar.
Not that distant. 47 minutes vs 33 last game? And you've applauded Jones' use of the bench so basically approve of George being there.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 4:08 pm

Nice dodge but assuming he does drop Hartley why would I be worried?

For Clifford I think he's a cracking prospect and I normally like to see people given 3 or 4 games run to bed in. He was also playing in a back row with how many starts? None of them were great but I'd like to see them again. Why pick Itoje for instance when he was also lacking? It's not about game time with Sinckler but looking at his scrum technique for me.

Why have Hartley on the bench if you think he's not good enough and weren't you saying another full back needs looking at? Granted that would be 7 changes which is getting quite high but you saw it as important?

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Post by LondonTiger on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 4:15 pm

My 23 would look something like:

Starting XV - would not want to make too many changes as woudl like to see the impact of individual changes rather than make wholesale then try and figure out what would work.

Daly, Nowell, Joseph, Farrell(c), May, Ford, Youngs, Hughes, Haskell, Wood, Lawes, Itoje, Cole, George, Marler

Bench - would look at giving extended runouts (at least 30 minutes) to teh ones in italics

Hartley, Mako, Sinkler, Launchbury, Clifford, Care, Te'o, Watson


Could be tempted to start Te'o at 12 with Farrell at 10, but then that makes judging Daly at 15 a lot harder.

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Post by kingelderfield on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 4:17 pm

I know I did once herald Sinckler but I'm yet to be convinced, even if scrums are becoming all a bit leaguie in their feeding.

The reality is after Cole we're looking a bit crap at the moment.

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Post by beshocked on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 4:26 pm

scottrf I approve of Jones actually giving George game time yes. The more the better.

It's spared England's blushes. Not just him of course, the whole bench in general have done their job well.

Haskell in particular has very much been helpful to Jones. As I have said before I think he's been one of the biggest success stories with this current management. Getting the best from him.

no 7 & 1/2 because Hartley might struggle to start again unless George picks up an injury or has a dip in form.

Clifford looked the least comfortable of the 3 backrowers vs Wales and was no surprise it was him who made way for Haskell. Itoje has proven himself to be a superior rugby player to Clifford as of now.

I haven't been impressed with either Wood or Clifford so far in the 6 nations.

Simply because Hartley still needs some more gametime - I'd give him the last 20 vs Italy.

Can't fix everything as you say. 15 needs to be sorted out at some point but can't if we change 9.10 and 12!

I'd rather Daly isn't shunted around the backline frequently. If it's indeed wing, Jones wants to keep him then leave him there. He's started the 6 nations well.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 4:40 pm

I'm not worried as long as England have good options and at hooker they do. No surprise the guy at 7 was replaced at 7 I agree but don't think Itoje was any better or worse than Clifford. The jury is out about Itoje as a blindside but I think he could prosper there.

If Hartley needs game time why give him less against a side that doesn't pose a huge threat.

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Post by beshocked on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 4:50 pm

Interesting stats.

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/officially-best-players-six-nations-12598410

I am not claiming any of the England backrowers did particularly well vs Wales but Itoje and Hughes IMO were more involved than Clifford in my opinion. Itoje hasn't had a particularly good 6 nations so far.

To be honest I wouldn't mind Hartley being sent back to Saints but Jones obviously didn't want to.

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Post by robbo277 on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 4:54 pm

LondonTiger wrote:My 23 would look something like:

Starting XV - would not want to make too many changes as woudl like to see the impact of individual changes rather than make wholesale then try and figure out what would work.

Daly, Nowell, Joseph, Farrell(c), May, Ford, Youngs, Hughes, Haskell, Wood, Lawes, Itoje, Cole, George, Marler

Bench - would look at giving extended runouts (at least 30 minutes) to teh ones in italics

Hartley, Mako, Sinkler, Launchbury, Clifford, Care, Te'o, Watson


Could be tempted to start Te'o at 12 with Farrell at 10, but then that makes judging Daly at 15 a lot harder.

I think if we're experimenting at 15, then Brown has to be on the bench, just in case it goes horribly wrong. I'd possibly start Watson for May, because if that back 3 goes well it'd be my one for the Scotland game.

Not sure what Wood has done to get a call-up at Launchbury's expense, and I'd also consider Sinckler to start, or we might be risking a weakened scrum to close the game. Mako and Cole on the bench for Marler and Sinckler gives you one stronger scrummager and one stronger carrier to start and one of each to finish.

But yours is probably the closest to what I would pick. It would be nice to give Clifford or Te'o starts, but with Scotland not too far away I don't think we want to be radically altering our game plan for a one-off, which picking Clifford for any of the bigger men in the back row or Te'o for one of our smaller midfielders would be doing.

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Post by LondonTiger on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 5:01 pm

Robbo with regards to Wood for Launchbury - it was more that I would like to see Itoje officially beck in the second row, and feel that Itoje/Lawes is a better combo than Itoje/Launchbury.

I suspect that similar to you, I am worried about making too many changes for thsi game then immediately reversing most of them for the Scotland fixture. It could leave a number of players coming back in very short of gametime.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 5:04 pm

So you'd actually drop the captain completely from the squad beshocked otherwise your point that Hartley needs to be dropped as he needs more game time but only then plan to give him 20 min doesn't make sense.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 5:07 pm

I'd prefer that Itoje and Launchbury get some time together if it were decided Itoje was a lock and lock alone as they're going to be the best 2 locks we have shortly if they aren't already. Itoje was apparently calling the lineout last game?

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Post by robbo277 on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 5:20 pm

It's a fair enough call to get Itoje back into the second row, and one I advocated before the Wales game, but now I'm not so sure. I think Launchbury and Lawes were that good, so if I were to drop one of the 3, it might be Itoje, but I'd possibly only go for that if Robshaw was available.

I think I'm wary of the momentum we're trying to develop, and after two tough wins we need a big bonus point victory to catapult us forward. I think if we change too much and stutter through the Italy game, it will be a big ask to pick up for Scotland. I think it was 2013 we stuttered through the game against Italy as a prelude to getting stuffed by Wales, and would hope we keep standards up.

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Post by lostinwales on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 7:58 pm

When certain people go off on one... Anyway one application of the foe button later I have to say that for Jones we definitely go into games as a squad of 13. I really do not believe that starting somehow raises a player above his replacement. That is certainly how Jones seems to see it. And all the feedback from the ones that count, you know, the players, is that they rate Hartley and his impact on the team very highly.

Somehow leadership is important to them....

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Post by Gwlad on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 8:08 pm

lostinwales wrote:When certain people go off on one... Anyway one application of the foe button later I have to say that for Jones we definitely go into games as a squad of 13. I really do not believe that starting somehow raises a player above his replacement. That is certainly how Jones seems to see it. And all the feedback from the ones that count, you know, the players, is that they rate Hartley and his impact on the team very highly.

Somehow leadership is important to them....

Which is why AWJ or Warburton will skipper the Lions.

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Post by BigTrevsbigmac on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 8:13 pm

Gwlad wrote:
lostinwales wrote:When certain people go off on one... Anyway one application of the foe button later I have to say that for Jones we definitely go into games as a squad of 13. I really do not believe that starting somehow raises a player above his replacement. That is certainly how Jones seems to see it. And all the feedback from the ones that count, you know, the players, is that they rate Hartley and his impact on the team very highly.

Somehow leadership is important to them....

Which is why AWJ or Warburton will skipper the Lions.

The big assumption there is that either will be in the 23

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Post by Poorfour on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 8:40 pm

BigTrevsbigmac wrote:
Gwlad wrote:

Which is why AWJ or Warburton will skipper the Lions.

The big assumption there is that either will be in the 23

The big problem for Gatland is that out of the leading contenders for Lions captaincy, none of them look like nailed on starters. Warburton has strong competition at both 6 and 7 (rugby.net had him behind Stander, Itoje, O'Brien and Tipuric after two rounds), and also has to somehow make it through to the end of the season uninjured. Hartley and Best are fighting for the same spot, and George is probably the best actual hooker. AWJ is up against the Brothers Gray, all 4 English locks and Toner at the very least. Farrell looks the closest thing we have to a clear starter, but has little to no captaincy experience.

Gatland's said that he'll pick the squad first and then the captain. So all bets are off until at least the end of the tournament.
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Post by king_carlos on Mon 20 Feb 2017, 8:41 pm

If Itoje is going to continue scrummaging at lock regardless of where he plays then selecting him at 6 is pretty futile.

His role in the line-out was the same as when he played at lock, i.e. he was secondary jumper and not calling the line-out.

It can be argued that he is being given a slightly different brief in open play but reality is that he has been performing the same basic role.

Tackle everything that moves in defence, utilising how quick he is at getting back to his feet and back in the game. He has been more selective about attacking the turnover but I suspect that's more a reaction to him giving a few breakdown penalties away in the last 6 Nations than the positional move.

Offer himself as a carrier round the corner in attack, use his considerable bulk and athleticism to produce quick ball from positive clear outs well beyond the ball. The latter is a part of Itojes game which is rarely commented on but extremely good. He regularly cleans a couple of defenders well beyond the ball and out the game, it creates clean ball for his 9 but can also take a defender or two out of the game for the next phase.

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Post by LondonTiger on Tue 21 Feb 2017, 6:19 am

28 players retained for training. Last week's matcday squad plus:

Mako
Ewells
Williams
Slade
Watson

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Post by Sgt_Pooly on Tue 21 Feb 2017, 8:18 am

Ewells constantly retained is a bit baffling. Eddie obviously sees something in him a lot of us do not.

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Post by cascough on Tue 21 Feb 2017, 8:19 am

beshocked wrote:Continuity was something Lancaster wanted in the run up to the RWC. Worked really well. OK  I know no 7 & 1/2 you are part of the Lancaster fan club.

So no 7 & 1/2 you don't want to see George against a fresh pack? Are you worried that he'll permanently take the place of the seemingly undroppable deity? Seems to be the case.

So you want to see the poorly performing Clifford to be given another go? Where's the consistency with you?

Is it the worse a player plays the more frequently you want them starting for England? Seems to be the case - reward poor form and punish those playing well.

Whereas I'd rather see England play the best players.

What exactly has Sinckler done to warrant being picked ahead of Cole? I thought you wanted continuity?

He's been solid off the bench but George obviously deserves a start much more.

What's this got to do with Lancaster?

Eddie Jones has been fairly consistent in his team selection over the last 15 games. I'd say it's going okay. I suggested Sinckler because it's one of the areas we have no experienced backup.

Beshocked wants backup options explored, until he doesn't. Personally don't think George needs the start as it's pretty obvious what he is capable of by this stage and I don't think we would learn a lot. I don't see 1 or 2 changes to the starting 15 as disrupting the continuity too much.

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Post by Gooseberry on Tue 21 Feb 2017, 8:53 am

LondonTiger wrote:28 players retained for training. Last week's matcday squad plus:

Mako
Ewells
Williams
Slade
Watson

Slades been retained in each of the previous games, I think they are just trolling him.
Watson being retained is no shock, the question is still open what combination of the 5 possible starts they use in the back 3 and wether Daly slots into the centres.
Mako too no surprise, you're wrong about it being the whole of the last match squad though ... Mullan hasn't been retained. Its just a toss up on who starts between Mako and Marler.
The 28 is made of of 6 additions to the last matchday squad minus Mullan, Harrison is the other whos been retained again.
Williams is a bit of a surprise, theres obviously a genuine recognition that the backrows been problematic. Its the one area where Jones has tried out a lot of players through his tenure, partly injury enforced. The inclusion of Ewells is also a bit odd unless they are just wanting these players to help out in training drills.

Theres loads of options for the matchday squad and Jones did say he was open to experimenting. The chances of a Hartley being benched and a captaincy change look low at this point despite Beshockeds increasingly rabid campaigning. Things have been quiet on the Ford getting dropped front too.
Even so the actual make up of the side is anyone guess at this point. Probably far more interesting than the game itself which likely will be pretty dull and one sided.

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Post by beshocked on Tue 21 Feb 2017, 8:58 am

Cascough George hasn't started a game of rugby for England - he has 0 starts.

Now perhaps that's fine with you but I think he has earned a start. He's one of the only players in the squad not to get one.

No actually people just see George as a finisher. George can change perceptions if allowed to be given a start. Starts for his club of course.

I believe he can also change perceptions that George can't be a leader himself.

I don't think Hartley has to start every single game for England.

If it was a fair rotation then you might have a point but at the moment there's a clear 1st choice and clear 2nd when the 2nd has been outperforming the 1st choice for the last two seasons.

I don't mind if England get in a position where there are two 1st choices but there aren't at hooker.

lostinwales putting a player on a pedestal does raise them above their team mates though....

As I've said many times, Hartley's leadership was close to non existent vs Wales and France. With him off the pitch, England improved. England were pretty dire in general vs France.


Plus obviously I think George is actually well suited to taking on the Italians to racking up a big score.

England have to think about scoring as many points as possible. Not having another lethargic performance from Hartley. Being joint highest missed tackles might well be fine vs Italy but we need to prepare for Ireland.

Funny thing is Jones has benefited from players like George and Itoje, two players Lancaster ignored.

Just because England are winning doesn't mean changes shouldn't be made.

Perhaps Sinckler should come in so why not George too?

People are worrying about too many changes but let's be honest we should rack up a big win vs Italy.

This is a good game to try out new players and give starts to those with none. I know no 7 & 1/2 thinks England are still inexperienced. I disagree.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Tue 21 Feb 2017, 9:12 am

You consider the last back row experienced? You didn't answer the point about Hartley, your point. He needs game time so ill give him 20 min against Italy!?

One point in 2 many changes is as LT points out above you can't as easily judge the incoming players impact.

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Post by cascough on Tue 21 Feb 2017, 9:12 am

Another Lancaster reference. I'll ask again why that is relevant?

I don't think anyone is worried about not racking up a big score against Italy. I suspect most people are looking at selection for this game with one eye on the Scotland game. It's about building for the rest of the championship.

As Paul O Connell said in the Wales aftermath, if he drops players for Italy and they come back in for Scotland that will be nearly 4 weeks between games.

I will try one piece of reasoning on the part of your George/Hartley agenda, beshocked. Will you actually listen to what people on this board are saying. People are NOT saying that George is not a better player than Hartley (or on better form). So please, please stop labouring that point as if people are disagreeing with you. Most people do NOT think it would be a good idea to change your captain mid tournament. I mean, do you think that is a good idea? Seriously? With that in mind, Hartley will be playing against Scotland and Ireland. Therefore it becomes pretty sensible to make sure he gets as much rugby as possible to get back up to speed.

I typed that, and and realised that actually I'm fully expecting you to come back and suggest that you should drop and change your captain mid way through a tournament. Christ could you imagine the effect that would have on the (winning) camp. I'm really struggling to think why anyone with a brain would think that was a good idea.

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Post by Scottrf on Tue 21 Feb 2017, 9:13 am

No 7&1/2 wrote:You consider the last back row experienced? You didn't answer the point about Hartley, your point. He needs game time so ill give him 20 min against Italy!?

One point in 2 many changes is as LT points out above you can't as easily judge the incoming players impact.
Even with a few changes can you judge their impact vs Italy? Should we expect 30, 40, 50 points?

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