England's strength in depth...and who makes their RWC squad?

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Post by miaow on Thu 11 Apr 2019, 8:52 pm

First topic message reminder :

Mirroring the thread I did for Wales, England have had huge strength in depth for the last 9 years or so. Under Lancaster it seemed to be a hindrance as much as a strength, with no-one really leaping out to claim key positions, cycling through the likes of Twelvetrees, Burrell, Barritt etc. in the centre.

Now, it feels like England do have some real test quality players who have grabbed shirts with both hands and are nailed on: the Vunipolas, Tuilagi, Lawes, and latterly players like May, Curry, and Underhill.

With that in mind...who makes England's 31 man squad based on who's fit and available (as well as who's out injured)? If you want to include who you'd personally pick as well that'd be interesting, but who do England fans think will be in that squad in Japan?

Also, who is in the starting 23 and who are the 6-7 reserve players who stand a good chance of a call up?

I've done it for Wales in the Wales thread - think it's looking very settled, with a few first 15 positions up for debate depending on opposition. From the outside England's squad looks a lot less settled or certain.

Squads ten to be:

17-18 forwards
5 Props
2 or 3 Hookers
5 Second rows
5 or 6 Back rowers

13-14 Backs
3 Scrum-halves
2-3 Fly-halves
3 Centres
5 Back 3

So who/what is the current England squad?

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Post by Poorfour on Fri 31 May 2019, 3:30 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:So im assuming this is a side where few will even remotely come in to contenton for the WC squad.

Yes. It's been clear from the outset that all the serious contenders for the RWC squad are being kept away from this game, as the Cipriani story this morning shows. I think it would take a real injury crisis for any of these players to be called up, though they may well figure post RWC. The player on Sunday most likely to join the England squad is probably Joe Marler!

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Post by LondonTiger on Fri 07 Jun 2019, 6:58 am

Jack Nowell needs surgery on his injured ankle.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Fri 07 Jun 2019, 7:51 am

So in so far as WC Daly may Watson cokanasiga and Ashton?

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Post by Poorfour on Fri 07 Jun 2019, 8:42 am

Don't forget Brown. Nowell was one of the fullback candidates. I still think England will leak tries without a proper fullback, and I don't think that's Daly. Watson possibly, but Brown is still the only player England have who has demonstrated all the things a fullback has to do at International level.

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Post by BamBam on Fri 07 Jun 2019, 9:13 am

Would go Brown over Ashton. Really unfortunate for Nowell

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Post by LondonTiger on Fri 07 Jun 2019, 9:26 am

Nowell is not ruled out just yet. However much depends on how quickly he can recover.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Fri 07 Jun 2019, 9:41 am

I did forget about brown.

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Post by Poorfour on Fri 07 Jun 2019, 9:52 am

If they are looking at an op for Nowell then it's likely to be a close run thing. Key issue will be match fitness when he won't be able to run for several weeks

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Post by LondonTiger on Fri 07 Jun 2019, 10:20 am

Poorfour wrote:If they are looking at an op for Nowell then it's likely to be a close run thing. Key issue will be match fitness when he won't be able to run for several weeks

Match fitness is being brought up a lot. Of course by the time the warm up games start the squad will have gon at least 10 weeks without a game. Not strictly relevant for Nowell and Mako who are looking at being unavailable till the 3rd or 4th warm-up game, but this has been raised as issues for the likes of Hartley, Youngs and Manu.

One thing that woprks in teh favour of those having to prove their fitness is that we start the WC with the "softer" games.

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Post by bluestonevedder on Fri 07 Jun 2019, 10:46 am

Tough news for Nowell. Though I've always thought he hits the ground running compared to other players who come back from moderate to long-term injuries. He might surprise us all.

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Post by Poorfour on Fri 07 Jun 2019, 3:15 pm

bluestonevedder wrote:Tough news for Nowell. Though I've always thought he hits the ground running compared to other players who come back from moderate to long-term injuries. He might surprise us all.

Some players are good at it, and some aren't. Jonny Wilkinson was capable of coming back from long term injury and playing out of his skin - I was at Twickenham when he destroyed the Scots in a comeback match where he personally scored by all four methods. Chris Robshaw is another - bounces back from injury like he's had a holiday. Glad to hear that Nowell is the same.

But most players seem to need a while to bed back in. I wonder why. Is it that they aren't doing their rehab properly?

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Post by LondonTiger on Fri 07 Jun 2019, 3:19 pm

Players whose game is based on pace or power probably take longer to bounce back from injury - especially compared to someone like Robshaw whose primary asset is his stamina.

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Post by Rinsure on Fri 07 Jun 2019, 3:44 pm

Poorfour wrote:
bluestonevedder wrote:Tough news for Nowell. Though I've always thought he hits the ground running compared to other players who come back from moderate to long-term injuries. He might surprise us all.

Some players are good at it, and some aren't. Jonny Wilkinson was capable of coming back from long term injury and playing out of his skin - I was at Twickenham when he destroyed the Scots in a comeback match where he personally scored by all four methods. Chris Robshaw is another - bounces back from injury like he's had a holiday. Glad to hear that Nowell is the same.

But most players seem to need a while to bed back in. I wonder why. Is it that they aren't doing their rehab properly?

Yeah, I remember that game too. The try was... dubious, to say the least: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yRM46g0Mp4&t=75s


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Post by Poorfour on Fri 07 Jun 2019, 9:01 pm

Oh, it was very dubious. But it didn't affect the outcome and the sheer weight of narrative causality made it inevitable that it would be given.

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Post by LondonTiger on Fri 07 Jun 2019, 9:51 pm

Poorfour wrote:Oh, it was very dubious. But it didn't affect the outcome and the sheer weight of narrative causality made it inevitable that it would be given.

Translates as ..... TMO believes in fairy tales?

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Post by Rugby Fan on Mon 10 Jun 2019, 8:56 am


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Post by Poorfour on Mon 10 Jun 2019, 10:00 am

I broadly agree with that. I wouldn't be so sure about Hughes and Te'o, but other than that I think that's a sensible view of who is definitely on the plane if fit. I would also very much expect Nowell to go if he recovers from his ankle injury, and Marler is 100% if he makes himself available, which he won't unless there are several injuries.

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Post by Cumbrian on Mon 10 Jun 2019, 10:59 am

I have read on other sites people quoting the TRP (and this might just make your head pop GF) that Willi Heinz is being lined up for the 45 man squad. The same article said that Robshaw, Hughes, Ashton and Hartley are likely to miss out. I don’t have a subscription so it could all be cobblers.
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Post by LondonTiger on Mon 10 Jun 2019, 11:16 am

Willi Heinz? FFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

With (in alphabetical order) Care, Robson, Spencer, Wigglesworth & Youngs in the mix (yes two finished the season crocked) do we really need to be looking at Uncle Fester? He is old, slow and really rather meh. Hell even Michael Young is a better option Very Happy

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Post by WELL-PAST-IT on Mon 10 Jun 2019, 11:24 am

Or a young tyro like Mitchell 😁

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Post by GeordieFalcon on Mon 10 Jun 2019, 11:26 am

Are you feckin kidding me!!!!!!!!?????

Seriously????

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Post by LondonTiger on Mon 10 Jun 2019, 11:31 am

WELL-PAST-IT wrote:Or a young tyro like Mitchell 😁

Some SHs I would prefer before Willi Heinz (not the exhaustive list):

Ben Youngs
Danny Care
Ben Spencer
Dan Robson
Richard Wigglesworth
Joe Simpson
Jack Maunder
Alex Mitchell
Ben Vellacott
Ben White
Sam Maunder
Nick Youngs
Michael Young

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Post by Cumbrian on Mon 10 Jun 2019, 11:46 am

It is a curious decision, but I guess he was called up to train with the squad that went down to Argentina.

The logic of taking a bang average, uncapped, 32 year old Kiwi over somebody like Spencer or Care is going to take some explaining though (assuming he has a shot at getting on the plane). Then again if he is there just to make up the numbers, why not roll the dice on having a youngster around the squad? It isn't like Heinz is going to be able to teach our experienced 9s anything, Youngs has a bazillion caps and Spencer is already a better player than him. Choose somebody like Vellacott or Mitchell who at least offer something fresh.
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Post by LondonTiger on Mon 10 Jun 2019, 11:55 am

I know that the squad is meeting up staggered as they complete their mandated 5 weeks rest. Perhaps it is just to have a kicking SH in that first week while Youngs is working his way back to full fitness and Spencer & Wiggy are still on holiday.

Not sure when the squad is officially announced.

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Post by Gooseberry on Mon 10 Jun 2019, 11:59 am

England have long had a policy of involving long term project players in the training squads. In this case though it may be a case of who is fit and available more than anything else as suggested above.

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Post by Rinsure on Mon 10 Jun 2019, 1:31 pm

Cumbrian wrote:Choose somebody like Vellacott or Mitchell who at least offer something fresh.

I thought Vellacott was Scottish?

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Post by Cumbrian on Mon 10 Jun 2019, 2:04 pm

Gooseberry wrote:England have long had a policy of involving long term project players in the training squads. In this case though it may be a case of who is fit and available more than anything else as suggested above.

Born and raised in England, and he was called up to an England training camp last year. He may still end up playing for Scotland, but he is on England's radar too.
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Post by No 7&1/2 on Mon 10 Jun 2019, 3:46 pm

Heinz has been involved before and seemingly used as LT suggest above to pad out the training squad as an extra body.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Mon 10 Jun 2019, 4:32 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:Heinz has been involved before and seemingly used as LT suggest above to pad out the training squad as an extra body.
I was going to wonder why Heinz would agree to do it, if he knows he's just a place-filler but I suppose he will get paid.

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Post by majesticimperialman on Mon 10 Jun 2019, 10:34 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:I did forget about brown.

What about Alex Goode at full back. All way.s gives 100 percent for Sarries?

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Post by Poorfour on Mon 10 Jun 2019, 11:11 pm

majesticimperialman wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:I did forget about brown.

What about Alex Goode at full back. All way.s gives 100 percent for Sarries?

And has consistently failed to translate that to International level. I know Barnes is obsessed with him, but Goode has had plenty of chances to make the step up and for whatever reason he doesn't play as well for England as he does for Sarries.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Tue 11 Jun 2019, 6:20 am

I did not forget about Goode.the main reason was he looked a nervous wreck when Jones has given him a chance. He knew he was in the last chance saloon and blew it.

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Post by Sharkey06 on Tue 11 Jun 2019, 11:49 pm

7&1/2 can you name the games where Goode was a nervous wreck - as the last game he played for England he was MotM? Earlier in his career he played all 5 games in the 2013 Grand Slam, including a pretty good performance in very poor weather against Ireland. For whatever reason he is one of those players that some people just seem to like to find excuses to not rate him.

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Post by Sharkey06 on Wed 12 Jun 2019, 12:01 am

Whilst I understand why people may not like Willi Heinz being parachuted into the England side, if you have watched much Aviva rugby if you rate Richard Wigglesworth, Joe Simpson, Jack Maunder, Alex Mitchell, Ben Vellacott, Ben White, Sam Maunder, Nick Youngs and Michael Young ahead of him, then I would have to question your rugby knowledge. Vellacott has been behind Heinz for the last couple of years and has had to leave to go to Wasps to try and get a start. Yet you rate him ahead of Heinz?

Is Dan Robson likely to be fit for the World Cup?

I think Eddie will only take 2 scrumhalfs to the world cup so third choice will be academic, but on ability Heinz is definitely there or there abouts with Spencer and Care.

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Post by yappysnap on Wed 12 Jun 2019, 1:46 am

I think its more his age, lack of much stand out ability abd he isnt English. We have a heap of young players who'd get some benefit from being around the squad and have another decade to apply it. Heinz has this tournament in him, it screams short sightedness on Eddies part.

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Post by Poorfour on Wed 12 Jun 2019, 6:49 am

Sharkey06 wrote:7&1/2 can you name the games where Goode was a nervous wreck - as the last game he played for England he was MotM?  Earlier in his career he played all 5 games in the 2013 Grand Slam, including a pretty good performance in very poor weather against Ireland.  For whatever reason he is one of those players that some people just seem to like to find excuses to not rate him.

“2013 Grand slam”? England lost (badly, albeit with huge assistance from Steve Walsh) in Wales in 2013.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Wed 12 Jun 2019, 6:56 am

Sharkey06 wrote:7&1/2 can you name the games where Goode was a nervous wreck - as the last game he played for England he was MotM?  Earlier in his career he played all 5 games in the 2013 Grand Slam, including a pretty good performance in very poor weather against Ireland.  For whatever reason he is one of those players that some people just seem to like to find excuses to not rate him.
I tend to be a bit more sympathetic to Alex Goode as well. The idea that he has been tried at international level, and not come up to snuff, overlooks the fact he appears to be a much better player compared to his previous run with England.. I would have tried to involve him in the season just finished but Jones was looking for more pace and power options, and that's not what he offers.

Ultimately, however, Jones has a view of how he wants the squad to look, and at this point in development, it's hard to see how he can incorporate Goode, without disrupting his planning elsewhere.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Wed 12 Jun 2019, 6:58 am

Was he sharkey? I must admit my memory must be failing me! Against Fiji west it when he dropped the first high ball forward and spent the rest of the game desperately trying to make it up. Thought that was a game where rokoduguni got motm but it was a rare game where I was actually there in the stadium so I could very well be wrong! I assume if he did it was another one from barnes.
I was one of those who was calling on him being given a run of games to cement himself but tbh he just looks like a guy who is an excellent club man.

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Post by LondonTiger on Wed 12 Jun 2019, 7:41 am

Pretty sure Fiji was his last game. Yes he dropped the first kick and played the rest of the game looking like a guy who knew he had blown his chance.

I do think people on here are overly harsh on his performances for England. He was never as bad as people want to remember. At times he was very good, and could be doing an excellent job for us now......but that would require the team to be set up in a way that suits him.

His time has gone.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Wed 12 Jun 2019, 8:14 am

Like I said I was one of the few who thought he deserved his chance. He just never quite took it.

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Post by Gooseberry on Wed 12 Jun 2019, 8:54 am

My understanding of the case for Goode was that he could step in at 12 and cover as a second playmaker when England were playing a lump at 12. If theres Farrell or Slade at 12 thats not really a thing, and he'd be playing wide in offence. Hes not the fastest or silkiest runner out there is he. Im just not sure he fits into the current England set up as much as he did during the period he won most of his caps. 
Or that he can handle the size and pace of international backs in defence. 
Worth considering if theres more withdrawls but despite his club form he doesnt seem to be close to a spot. If Cirpriani can keep winning so many club level awards and still only be a fringe player its pretty clear that theres more to getting in the squad than just looking good playing for the best club in the NH. 

Ive lost the link now but I saw Ashton on some youtube show yesterday saying he thought he could make a go of fullback at test level, responding to claim he was rubbish under the high ball by saying " you have to catch more on the wing". Im not sure how much he was joking, is that a thing? 
Its worth remembering that both Jones and Lancaster have stated that Brown is a very talented winger, and he got quite a lot of his caps there. Quite contrary to most of us would think. Ashton at full back on Brown on the wing? The internet would die.

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Post by LondonTiger on Wed 12 Jun 2019, 9:17 am

Wingers certainly have to make more tackles than FB. Fielding kicks depends on the kicking strategy of the opponents as well as your own defensive strategy.

In  general though I would disagree with Splash.

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Post by Poorfour on Wed 12 Jun 2019, 11:44 am

Doesn't the "who does the high ball catching" question depend on who's doing the kicking? I think wingers catch more on the kick chase, but the fullback is generally the one who has to deal with kicks from the opposition.

There's also a question of the nature of the kick - generally, the pressure kicks will be the ones where the opposition are targeting space in the backfield and the receiver therefore has to claim the kick or expose the team to a lot of defensive pressure. The fullbacks tend to take more of those.

Which also leads on to a key (and underappreciated) bit of full back skill: great fullbacks do much of their defensive work away from the ball. The full back's positioning can determine whether the opposition tries a kick or the channel they attack down. When they get it right, they steer the attack towards areas of defensive strength; when they get it wrong, they create holes. That's how England won against Ireland and France (who both fielded non-specialist fullbacks), but they couldn't make it work against Wales and instead Wales exploited Daly's inexperience, certainly for the last try.

England's likely path to the final is via Wales in the QF and the All Blacks in a SF. Both teams make very good use of attacking kicks. Which of the candidates would you be comfortable watching under that kind of aerial bombardment?

For me, I'd be hiding behind the sofa if it were Daly, Goode or Ashton. I'd probably be peeking through my fingers with Nowell or Watson. I'd still be holding my breath with Brown on the pitch, but

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Post by Cumbrian on Wed 12 Jun 2019, 11:49 am

yappysnap wrote:I think its more his age, lack of much stand out ability abd he isnt English. We have a heap of young players who'd get some benefit from being around the squad and have another decade to apply it. Heinz has this tournament in him, it screams short sightedness on Eddies part.

That is my take on it too. I don't expect Heinz to have a realistic chance of getting on the plane, even though he has enjoyed a good season for Gloucester. Throw in the fact that he is 33 immediately after the world cup, and you are left wondering about the point of his inclusion.

I can't help but feel that we are in this situation because successive England coaches have stuck with Youngs and Care, no matter how good or indifferent their form has been over the last 8-10 years. If you think about it, England have been pretty luck injury wise. At any point over that period they both could have suffered extended injury layoff simultaneously, and we would have been stuffed.

Things are coming to a head now with Care almost reaching (rugby) retirement age and Youngs looking at it on the horizon. England simply must start to get some sort of succession in place. Willi Heniz surely won't be part of it, but somebody like Mitchell might.

If you want 10p worth:

I think barring injury, Care has probably played one of his last games for England. I worry that Robsons' unfortunate situation could be career ending and Simpson's time has gone (he has just never really been trusted).

I think Youngs and Spencer will dovetail for the next two/three years, with Youngs slowly being eased out as as age and the sheer amount of rugby catch up with him. It is at this point that you need somebody to start putting their hand up, it will be a heck of a lot easier if that person has been around the England squad.
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Post by LondonTiger on Wed 12 Jun 2019, 12:00 pm

Another thing against Ashton's view (and I agree about the receiving or kick chase comments) is that the memorable full back drops recently were near the corners. I am thinking of Watson against Ireland and Daly against Wales. One thing supporting Ashton's view is I seem to recall May fielding a decent number of kicks from the opposition.

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Post by lostinwales on Wed 12 Jun 2019, 12:25 pm

Time to run out the standard Andy ALEX Goode (thx LT - I think) arguments.

I think he could have made an excellent fly half. At full back he could be great when the games worked for him (i.e.that game where Ireland kicked everything to him and he returned it all with interest) but running from deep he just looked - embarrassing. The deceptive pace was more misleading than anything else and then there is the jink one way, jink the other run into someone and fall over thing. Defense too was not great.

At the time he was first getting picked we were used to Brown, Foden and I guess Armitage. All really strong runners, guys who you could look to to spark something coming in from deep. Goode at international level never convinced in doing this.

His record for Saracens is wonderful, but he just has not consistently produced the goods at full back, at a time when we have had some very impressive alternatives


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Post by LondonTiger on Wed 12 Jun 2019, 12:40 pm

lostinwales wrote:Time to run out the standard Andy Goode arguments.


I know he has had a hair transplant but far too fat and old now.

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Post by Cumbrian on Wed 12 Jun 2019, 12:42 pm

I would love a player like Armitage right now. He may not have been the most likable, but as a fullback he had the full package. He was solid under the high ball, quick, had good positional play and offered a genuine attacking threat/ x factor.
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Post by LondonTiger on Wed 12 Jun 2019, 2:00 pm

Yeah, I would take the 2010 Delon in a millisecond.

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Post by Poorfour on Wed 12 Jun 2019, 2:16 pm

I think Watson could, given time to settle, offer the same all round package that Delon did, while not being such a complete [insert word of choice here]. The issue is that his injuries have not allowed for that time before the RWC.

Ditto with the scrum halves. We don't know whether Robson or Spencer or anyone else will cope at International level, and the RWC isn't the best place to find out.

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