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Review/Discussion of the state of the England team

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Review/Discussion of the state of the England team Empty Review/Discussion of the state of the England team

Post by cb Wed 07 Jan 2015, 4:01 pm

Just a quick review/discussion on the status of the England team.  Not necessarily a complete analysis but I sure others will fill in the missing gaps and provide their own views.

England were very disappointing and stalled during the Autumn Internationals. Without a dominance scrum they could very easy have lost to Australia.

FORWARDS:

Generally went well, but England should not complacent as next up is Wales away at the MS, where they were bullied last time.

If Corbisiero and Cole can regain form and fitness, England will be strong at prop.  Brookes quietly improving with some younger guys waiting in the wings.

Hooker seems to be a weak area though, Webber did not look wonderful over the week-end.  Hartley a bit undisciplined.

Quite a good groups of locks, but I would still prefer an Attwood or Slater type.  Occasionally Lawes and Launchbury look a little light-weight.  Also though competition is very tight, I would like to have seen how Kitchener would fare.

Backrow is a point of discussion and debate.  The number eights look good with Vunipola coming back to form and future options in Ewers and others (Hughes?).  I think Robshaw almost always plays well but I would not mind seeing Garvey at blindside, to do the tight stuff and allow the other back five forwards to excel in the loose.


BACKS:

Not totally bleak but how to get them playing?

Fullback seems set with Brown and I wonder if Watson should be seen as his successor.

Scrum-half is fairly well served by Youngs and Care if he can recover his form.  Also Simpson can look a good player?

Fly-half is well stocked with Ford, Farrell, Myler and Cips.  Indeed at the week-end I thought Myler had a great game.

At wing there are lots of options in May, Watson, Rokoduguni, Nowell, Wade, Yarde and Benjamin has come on a bit as well. I would love to see Wade get a go sometime.

Centre has been a problem which is annoying has there seems to be talent available.  Tuilagi, Burrell, Eastmond, Joseph, Barritt, Slade, Twelvestrees, etc. all seem good players

So if everyone was fit and on Form, I would go with: -

Corbisiero
Hartley
Cole
Attwood
Launchbury
Garvey
Robshaw
Morgan

Youngs
Ford
Watson
Burrell
Tuilagi
May
Brown

Would definitely have Lawes on the bench in case the line went belly-up. Have not yet found room for Wade but would have Eastmond on the bench.  However in most positions there is a lot of competition, so sometimes the choice could go either way.
Perhaps England’s real weakness is having several good players (with the sum being better than the parts), but with very few world class options.

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Post by Gwlad Wed 07 Jan 2015, 4:20 pm

Will Cips get picked? Also, it's clear Burgess isn't up to it yet but is now the time to get him into camp to train with the objective of him being ready to take part in RWC?

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Post by king_carlos Wed 07 Jan 2015, 9:07 pm

I know it's a bit of a flavour of the month comment but I'd love to see Slade given a go not only because of our centre issues but also due to his versatility. A guy who can play 10/12/13 could be a real asset as a third fly-half in a world cup squad.

Building towards the world cup I think Burrell/Tuilagi may well be our best centre partnership. However, with Manu injured, for the 6N I think it is worth having a look at Burrell in his club position of 12 with Joseph or Slade outside him.

1.Marler - If Corbs gets fit (big if) I'd like to see them rotated a bit to avoid injury or burnout
2.Hartley
3.Wilson or Cole - Would like to see them rotated for same reason as above
4.Attwood
5.Lawes
6.Haskell
7.Robshaw
8.Morgan

9.Youngs - We really need him and Care in form at the same time so that they can push one another
10.Ford

11.May
12.Burrell
13.Joseph or Slade
14.Wade - It's time to give him a go!
15.Brown

I know it isn't popular but I still think Croft could add a huge amount to our ability to turn pressure in trys with his support play. The 6N will almost certainly come to soon however, unless he springs into life from nowhere circa end of 2013 season leading to the Lions tour.

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Post by WELL-PAST-IT Thu 08 Jan 2015, 12:42 pm

I can't see the pack changing from the AIs unless it is at prop, same with the halfbacks, Care and Farrell on the bench.

Centres, without Manu, Burrell has to start against the crash ball experts I expect Barritt to be in the 12 shirt and Burrell at 13. Hopefully they will not try to show thay can crash through better then Roberts. Burrell is underrated as a distributor as is Barritt, he also runs some very good lines, they could both be very good at letting the pace of Watson or May loose.

I think Brown is nailed on at 15, but watch out for Foden who could be the choice of utility back, he is on fire for Saints at the moment.

Wings as previously mentioned May and Watson own the shirts, someone needs to perform well enough to take them off them, can't see anyone else at the moment doing enough for that.
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Post by Welly Thu 08 Jan 2015, 2:03 pm

Launchbury out for the rest of season.

 Kitchener should come in imo.

 He has won the most lineouts in the premiership (Including steals with 57 takes) and is having a great season.

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Post by Gwlad Thu 08 Jan 2015, 4:13 pm

Is Tuilagi likely to be fit for Wales game?

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Post by bluestonevedder Thu 08 Jan 2015, 5:06 pm

No, Tuilagi is unlikely to be fit. Same with Dan Cole

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Post by HammerofThunor Thu 08 Jan 2015, 5:08 pm

Well, fit as in not injured but not match fit. I'm hoping both will just be left with Tigers to ease back in rather than rushed back.

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Post by sickofwendy Thu 08 Jan 2015, 11:45 pm

Slade isn't ready YET and Joseph won't get a look in

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Post by Gwlad Fri 09 Jan 2015, 12:26 am

No Cole, Launchbury and TUilagi…are England fans confident going to Cardiff this year?

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Post by Rugby Fan Fri 09 Jan 2015, 12:40 am

Gwlad wrote:No Cole, Launchbury and TUilagi…are England fans confident going to Cardiff this year?
Cole and Tuilagi played no part in the win at Twickenham last year. I'd prefer to have Launchbury again but we aren't in bad shape with locks.

I don't think many England supporters will be too worried about who is available for the match. It's unlikely we'll beat Wales with the tactics we used against Australia, though, so we'll be more concerned about the selection mix and gameplan.

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Post by Gwlad Fri 09 Jan 2015, 5:45 am

Rugby Fan wrote:
Gwlad wrote:No Cole, Launchbury and TUilagi…are England fans confident going to Cardiff this year?
Cole and Tuilagi played no part in the win at Twickenham last year. I'd prefer to have Launchbury again but we aren't in bad shape with locks.

I don't think many England supporters will be too worried about who is available for the match. It's unlikely we'll beat Wales with the tactics we used against Australia, though, so we'll be more concerned about the selection mix and gameplan.

Well i think it si a huge plus for WaLes that Tuilagi isn't playing TBH, he gives your midfield a potency that no other English centre seems to offer. Can't say I'm not glad about Cole and Launcbury either but as you point out there is no shortage to chose from across the entire team…a double edged sword in some ways as i think even now with only a matter of months before RWC England still seem so unsettled in many positions…who will be 2, 9, 6, 8 10, 12, 13….i think Lancaster's main aim must be to find a side that works and bar injury stick with his selection.
England are widely expected to win the 6 Nations (again) this year so i suppose if Wales do win at least some pressure will come off and they can still aim to win it without the GS hoodoo whiCH seems to do their legs year after year. One thing is for sure, Cardiff will eb a massive game and whatever the result i expect a whole different prospect in Twickenham come RWC

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Post by HammerofThunor Fri 09 Jan 2015, 7:41 am

I'm fully expecting a Welsh win. I hope it's closer than the last game (edit: in Wales) and we're at least competitive but I'd be surprised if we win.


Last edited by HammerofThunor on Fri 09 Jan 2015, 9:15 am; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Rugby Fan Fri 09 Jan 2015, 7:43 am

Gwlad wrote: England are widely expected to win the 6 Nations (again) this year
I wonder about that. McGeechan has already said we won't. We have Wales and Ireland away, which aren't going to be easy, and we lost to France last time out. Certainly, there will be plenty of England fans who think we won't be serious World Cup contenders if we can't nail a title, so there'll be much lamenting if we fall short again. Personally, though, I'm not confident, and I wonder how many really expect us to win, rather than hope (or fear).

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Post by lostinwales Fri 09 Jan 2015, 9:13 am

Gwlad wrote:
Rugby Fan wrote:
Gwlad wrote:No Cole, Launchbury and TUilagi…are England fans confident going to Cardiff this year?
Cole and Tuilagi played no part in the win at Twickenham last year. I'd prefer to have Launchbury again but we aren't in bad shape with locks.

I don't think many England supporters will be too worried about who is available for the match. It's unlikely we'll beat Wales with the tactics we used against Australia, though, so we'll be more concerned about the selection mix and gameplan.

Well i think it si a huge plus for WaLes that Tuilagi isn't playing TBH, he gives your midfield a potency that no other English centre seems to offer. Can't say I'm not glad about Cole and Launcbury either but as you point out there is no shortage to chose from across the entire team…a double edged sword in some ways as i think even now with only a matter of months before RWC England still seem so unsettled in many positions…who will be 2, 9, 6, 8 10, 12, 13….i think Lancaster's main aim must be to find a side that works and bar injury stick with his selection.
England are widely expected to win the 6 Nations (again) this year so i suppose if Wales do win at least some pressure will come off and they can still aim to win it without the GS hoodoo whiCH seems to do their legs year after year. One thing is for sure, Cardiff will eb a massive game and whatever the result i expect a whole different prospect in Twickenham come RWC


Tuilagi is great as the solution to all problems, and we will miss him (and the others) We didnt do too badly without him last year though. It will also be interesting to see if/how Wales have moved on from the match last year also, where they were muscular but in general toothless and predictable, and almost wholy reliant on 1/2p to keep the scoreboard respectible (both with the great kicking and that unfortunate but brave tackle on Burrell at the end which did his shoulder)

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Post by Geordie Fri 09 Jan 2015, 9:32 am

Surely in....

Burrell, Barritt, Slade, Eastmond, Hill, Allen, Daly, Joseph etc etc we can find a decent midfield that DOESNT rely solely on one fecking guy...who's as injury prone as Alex Corbisieru!!!

Burrell has been outstanding....Barritt is hugely maligned but he's quality...

Ford
Barritt
Burrell

Both centres switching on plays would be a good solid midfield...giving plenty of options.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Fri 09 Jan 2015, 9:39 am

Barritt is basically Tindall version 2. Not sure Burrell is Greenwood though.

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Post by WELL-PAST-IT Fri 09 Jan 2015, 10:34 am

No 7&1/2 wrote:Barritt is basically Tindall version 2. Not sure Burrell is Greenwood though.

Barritt is smaller than Tindall, but probably tackles harder, having said that, comparisons with a Tindall at his peak is not a condemnation in any way. He may not have set the world alight, but he was solid and consistant and our wingers did actually score tries in those days

Burrell / Tindall, chalk and cheese. The comparison should of course be the otherway around for England, Barritt has played predominantly 12 and Burrell 13. A Burrell /Tindall comparison would be better; I think that Burrell would sneak a win at the moment, he runs better lines and has the edge in pace.
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Post by No 7&1/2 Fri 09 Jan 2015, 10:39 am

Tindall fitted the system perfectly. The comparison was more in terms of skill sets rather than position they have or possibly will play. Balance for me is still key. There was a lot of complaints at the time when Barritt and Tuilagi played together and I don't see a great deal more from Burrell at 13.

I still think one of the midfield needs a much more rounded skill set.

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Post by Geordie Fri 09 Jan 2015, 11:10 am

Im just making a suggestion.

So much debate on this area.

Barritt is not a much liked player...but he is the defensive general and on crash ball aside from Ben Morgan I think he's the only player that takes the ball at FULL pelt. It makes people have to tackle.
Add in that whilst he isn't a passing maestro he CAN pass.

Burrell isn't as basic as many feel either...and ran some cracking lines in the last 6n...scoring tries.

That midfield would have creativity admittedly without the fireworks, solidity, and at least give May, Watson and Brown our exciting back 3 a chance to shine.

Better than what we've had too often.

BUt its just a suggestion.

Id be happy to see Slade or Daly or Joseph getting a run out.

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Post by WELL-PAST-IT Fri 09 Jan 2015, 11:29 am

GF, Daly only if he has learnt to tackle, the last few times I have seen him he made Cipriani look impressive by comparison.
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Post by Geordie Fri 09 Jan 2015, 11:50 am

Yeah Well Past it.....but some on here would believe tackling doesn't matter...

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Post by Gwlad Fri 09 Jan 2015, 4:02 pm

lostinwales wrote:
Gwlad wrote:
Rugby Fan wrote:
Gwlad wrote:No Cole, Launchbury and TUilagi…are England fans confident going to Cardiff this year?
Cole and Tuilagi played no part in the win at Twickenham last year. I'd prefer to have Launchbury again but we aren't in bad shape with locks.

I don't think many England supporters will be too worried about who is available for the match. It's unlikely we'll beat Wales with the tactics we used against Australia, though, so we'll be more concerned about the selection mix and gameplan.

Well i think it si a huge plus for WaLes that Tuilagi isn't playing TBH, he gives your midfield a potency that no other English centre seems to offer. Can't say I'm not glad about Cole and Launcbury either but as you point out there is no shortage to chose from across the entire team…a double edged sword in some ways as i think even now with only a matter of months before RWC England still seem so unsettled in many positions…who will be 2, 9, 6, 8 10, 12, 13….i think Lancaster's main aim must be to find a side that works and bar injury stick with his selection.
England are widely expected to win the 6 Nations (again) this year so i suppose if Wales do win at least some pressure will come off and they can still aim to win it without the GS hoodoo whiCH seems to do their legs year after year. One thing is for sure, Cardiff will eb a massive game and whatever the result i expect a whole different prospect in Twickenham come RWC


Tuilagi is great as the solution to all problems, and we will miss him (and the others) We didnt do too badly without him last year though. It will also be interesting to see if/how Wales have moved on from the match last year also, where they were muscular but in general toothless and predictable, and almost wholy reliant on 1/2p to keep the scoreboard respectible (both with the great kicking and that unfortunate but brave tackle on Burrell at the end which did his shoulder)

Based on Wales normal up and down performances in the 6 Nations and it being at home i expect usual service to resume and for the game to be much more competitive. There was a big departure from our usual style evident in the win v SA when the orders were obviously to get it wide quickly and even indulge some offload again.
Persoanlly i don't see Half's keeping the scoreboard ticking as a stick to beat us with though many do, it's what a team should do and in fact England's greatest success was as a direct result of a certain Sir Jonny keeping the board ticking over. That said Half has put his body on the line more than once to save the day.

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Post by lostinwales Fri 09 Jan 2015, 4:07 pm

Gwlad wrote:
lostinwales wrote:
Gwlad wrote:
Rugby Fan wrote:
Gwlad wrote:No Cole, Launchbury and TUilagi…are England fans confident going to Cardiff this year?
Cole and Tuilagi played no part in the win at Twickenham last year. I'd prefer to have Launchbury again but we aren't in bad shape with locks.

I don't think many England supporters will be too worried about who is available for the match. It's unlikely we'll beat Wales with the tactics we used against Australia, though, so we'll be more concerned about the selection mix and gameplan.

Well i think it si a huge plus for WaLes that Tuilagi isn't playing TBH, he gives your midfield a potency that no other English centre seems to offer. Can't say I'm not glad about Cole and Launcbury either but as you point out there is no shortage to chose from across the entire team…a double edged sword in some ways as i think even now with only a matter of months before RWC England still seem so unsettled in many positions…who will be 2, 9, 6, 8 10, 12, 13….i think Lancaster's main aim must be to find a side that works and bar injury stick with his selection.
England are widely expected to win the 6 Nations (again) this year so i suppose if Wales do win at least some pressure will come off and they can still aim to win it without the GS hoodoo whiCH seems to do their legs year after year. One thing is for sure, Cardiff will eb a massive game and whatever the result i expect a whole different prospect in Twickenham come RWC


Tuilagi is great as the solution to all problems, and we will miss him (and the others) We didnt do too badly without him last year though. It will also be interesting to see if/how Wales have moved on from the match last year also, where they were muscular but in general toothless and predictable, and almost wholy reliant on 1/2p to keep the scoreboard respectible (both with the great kicking and that unfortunate but brave tackle on Burrell at the end which did his shoulder)

Based on Wales normal up and down performances in the 6 Nations and it being at home i expect usual service to resume and for the game to be much more competitive. There was a big departure from our usual style evident in the win v SA when the orders were obviously to get it wide quickly and even indulge some offload again.
Persoanlly i don't see Half's keeping the scoreboard ticking as a stick to beat us with though many do, it's what a team should do and in fact England's greatest success was as a direct result of a certain Sir Jonny keeping the board ticking over. That said Half has put his body on the line more than once to save the day.

Absolutely. You have to take opportunities when they arise and the 1/2 p's and JW's of the world are the best kind of tools to keep the scoreboard ticking over. But with all this focus on the current state of England it doesnt do any harm to ask the question of the opposition also.

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Post by Gwlad Fri 09 Jan 2015, 4:13 pm

Lost do you think that England's strength in depth sometimes works against them, i follow England with interest and like to see them strong, what is see right now is a very very strong squad and a team that lacks identity in that i just can never be sure who will start, except brown and increasingly May. In the pack I suppose Robshaw, Launchbury and Hartley are fairly nailed on but i don't put this down to variable form rather inconsistent selection which needs to be ironed out for RWC. Even with Manu injured he is always the first name on my team sheet and i think is England's key player…his absence in midfield just highlights the problem England have had there since Greenwood and Tindall, he really needs a partner.

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Post by lostinwales Fri 09 Jan 2015, 4:35 pm

There is always an issue that if you do have a big player pool you don't often stick with players through thick and thin, so if/when they get their best form back it can be very hard for them to get back into the team.

I think we have been more hit by bad luck with injuries than we'd ever let on, with the fact that its usually 'good' players coming in half hiding the problem. We have also had a difficult and long run against the best team around which has left us with 4 L's, with the worst one a big loss (but one that got a really good performance out of the AB's). We were also probably experimenting more than we'd let on in the Autumn.

I would expect things to be a lot better in the 6N. I think a lot of the team is established now, it is more a question of if/how returning injured players fit in.

There are issues. Last year two of 'our' (and 'the') best performers were Brown and Care. Neither are in such devastating form currently, and you can't help but wonder if last season was just an exceptional time for them rather than what we would like to expect

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Post by maestegmafia Fri 09 Jan 2015, 10:19 pm

Who do you guys think are England's best players

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Post by Geordie Sun 11 Jan 2015, 5:53 pm

Telegraph reporting that for the Saxons v Irish wolfhounds on 30 Jan it will be

12 Slade
13 Burgess


And the 1st team

10 Ford
12 Barritt
13 Burrell

And they're usually spot on....

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Post by No 7&1/2 Sun 11 Jan 2015, 6:23 pm

Always seems 1 step forward 2 back with the backs. Will be interesting to see how Slade gets on.

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Post by Gwlad Sun 11 Jan 2015, 6:35 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:Telegraph reporting that for the Saxons v Irish wolfhounds on 30 Jan it will be

12 Slade
13 Burgess


And the 1st team

10 Ford
12 Barritt
13 Burrell

And they're usually spot on....

Burgess…..as in Sam, for real? That was quick.

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Post by bedfordwelsh Sun 11 Jan 2015, 7:13 pm

For what it's worth I think Burgess will be rushed straight into their 6 nations squad at least.
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Post by robbo277 Sun 11 Jan 2015, 7:20 pm

If we're keen on Burgess to play in the World Cup, or at least have a chance, he has to be around the camp in spring.

Similarly, I'd be calling Steffon Armitage up to cover for Morgan's injury as a way of bringing him into the team.

England have a lot of good players, but if we are to win the World Cup we'll need all the top class players at our disposal. We have Corbs, Cole and Manu (who have all spent a lot of time on the treatment table) but if Armitage and Burgess hit their straps then we could add two more to that list. Then if a few of our good players hit on some great form (ie the levels Care and Brown reached last season) then we may have a shot.

I think England have a decent shot at this Championship, three big home wins and a narrow one away may be enough to get us the trophy on points difference, while a Grand Slam would exceed all expectations, with the toughest two teams away. But 4 wins and getting answers to some problem positions before the world cup would be a good return.

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Post by Gwlad Sun 11 Jan 2015, 8:28 pm

If Burgess can get from where he is now to RWC i will be surprised by but extremely impressed. It doesn't say much for England's centres though, things aren't that bad are they? Just imagine a Burgess/Tuilagi combo. Shocked Shocked

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Post by Mad for Chelsea Sun 11 Jan 2015, 9:42 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:Telegraph reporting that for the Saxons v Irish wolfhounds on 30 Jan it will be

12 Slade
13 Burgess


And the 1st team

10 Ford
12 Barritt
13 Burrell

And they're usually spot on....

I like it Very Happy

not much point in sticking someone like 12T in the Saxons anyway: we know what he can do. Much better to have a look at two guys who if they go on a hot streak could easily force their way into the final reckoning. Also think the first team is about right at the moment: with Ford the need for the extra playmaker diminishes, Burrell was excellent last 6N on the whole, while Barritt will do his job, and do it well. The crazy guy in me would have liked to see Eastmond in there, but sensible me says that with Tuilagi out this is as good as we can come up with.

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Post by TJ Sun 11 Jan 2015, 9:45 pm

My 2p worth? I think 10 is the real issue and Farrell has not moved on at all in a couple of years. England lack a playmaker. Farrell is a poor mans Wilkinson( and I never rated Wilkinson). The rest of the England team are good if in places uninspiring but someone somewhere ( and its usually the 10) has to provide some unpredictability and magic. I would play Cipriani because despite his weaknesses and flaws he as those qualities that are lacking.

I don't think tuliagi will provide all the answers when he is back as well. Too predictable. You have centres a plenty and all the candidates have been tried and none really shone. Got space for either Kyle Eastmond or Jonathan Joseph? They have impressed me in the AP.

Hartley is a weak point. He has now proven that he cannot change his lack of self control so that must be the end of his international career. All teams will know what he is like and he will be targeted to make him lose his temper and get sent off. At least a year in the AP without a single card before he is considered again.

Tell you what - as a scots fan while I believe many of our first teamplayers are better than their English counterparts but the strength in depth england have compared to us I would kill for. Come the WC that will be a huge advantage for england.

Opening game - England to win comfortably

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Post by Alex_Germany Sun 11 Jan 2015, 9:47 pm

Just watched ITV4's highlights and players up and down. With most of the top teams losing there are some negatives for England.

Down:
Morgan out for several months. Will struggle to get game time for RWC.
Twelvetrees: Butchered a 2 on 1 certain try - appalling!
Slade: Didn't notice him but Exeter losing several on the trot can't be good for him.
Wood: Part of a Northampton scrum that got stuffed and gave away one or more penalties.

Up:
Easter: Great performance for Quins - and timely with Morgan out.
Care: Superb try - looked sharp
Yarde: Superb try as he did his Moses act and parted the defence in front of him
Cipriani: Not so prominent today, but rises with the team and he's getting a lot of credit

(And no, I'm not a particular fan of Harlequins)

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Post by thomh Sun 11 Jan 2015, 11:02 pm

Gwlad wrote:
GeordieFalcon wrote:Telegraph reporting that for the Saxons v Irish wolfhounds on 30 Jan it will be

12 Slade
13 Burgess


And the 1st team

10 Ford
12 Barritt
13 Burrell

And they're usually spot on....

Burgess…..as in Sam, for real? That was quick.

Yeh they were expected to include him anyway after some comments by Lancaster a while back, and his performance against Wasps will have given them plausible justification for doing so.

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Post by Rugby Fan Mon 12 Jan 2015, 12:20 am

It would be ideal if we could say now who are the first choice players for each position. Sadly, we've often had a clear frontrunner, only for that man to lose form.

Danny Care was nailed on at scrum half, but he tripped over himself in training while on tour, and hasn't looked convincing in an England shirt since. It's great to see him showing form again at club level but there are no guarantees he won't fade away again for some reason.

Mike Brown had an impressive Six Nations last year, but not a great tour and only a middling Autumn series. If he isn't claiming high balls and breaking tackles, then he can't be a surefire starter.

It wasn't that long ago there was broad consensus that Lancaster had his first choice pack (Corbs, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes Robshaw, Wood, Vunipola) and it was only injuries which would change the personnel. Now, the back row debate has reignited, hooker is in question, and we aren't certain about whether returning players will be as effective as before.

Winger is an odd one too. Yarde looked to be in pole position at one stage, and it seemed as if we were just waiting for Wade to get fit to have our World Cup pair. Fast forward a year and May is now seen as a man in possession with Watson possibly having the other spot. Poor old Rokoduguni must wake up some times wondering if he actually did ever wear an England shirt, or it it was all just a dream.

May hasn't done badly but a lot of the goodwill towards him comes from that try he scored against New Zealand. You know who had a wonder score at Twickenham early in his career? Chris Ashton, and look where he is now in the pecking order.

Form ought to be guiding selection for the Six Nations but even if things go well for us in that tournament - and that's a big if - then our past experience suggests we can't be certain players will still be in good nick as the World Cup pulls around.

The real test for our coaching team is whether they can spot that, or if they'll stay loyal to someone who can't reward them by raising his game sufficiently.

In a team which has settled combinations, you often find that the cohesion in the side can compensate when someone's standards drop in a match. England don't really seem to have that luxury, so we need to be certain that anyone taking the field as the World Cup pulls their weight.

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Post by Gwlad Mon 12 Jan 2015, 2:35 am

Rugby Fan wrote:It would be ideal if we could say now who are the first choice players for each position. Sadly, we've often had a clear frontrunner, only for that man to lose form.

Danny Care was nailed on at scrum half, but he tripped over himself in training while on tour, and hasn't looked convincing in an England shirt since. It's great to see him showing form again at club level but there are no guarantees he won't fade away again for some reason.

Mike Brown had an impressive Six Nations last year, but not a great tour and only a middling Autumn series. If he isn't claiming high balls and breaking tackles, then he can't be a surefire starter.

It wasn't that long ago there was broad consensus that Lancaster had his first choice pack (Corbs, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes Robshaw, Wood, Vunipola) and it was only injuries which would change the personnel. Now, the back row debate has reignited, hooker is in question, and we aren't certain about whether returning players will be as effective as before.

Winger is an odd one too. Yarde looked to be in pole position at one stage, and it seemed as if we were just waiting for Wade to get fit to have our World Cup pair. Fast forward a year and May is now seen as a man in possession with Watson possibly having the other spot. Poor old Rokoduguni must wake up some times wondering if he actually did ever wear an England shirt, or it it was all just a dream.

May hasn't done badly but a lot of the goodwill towards him comes from that try he scored against New Zealand. You know who had a wonder score at Twickenham early in his career? Chris Ashton, and look where he is now in the pecking order.

Form ought to be guiding selection for the Six Nations but even if things go well for us in that tournament - and that's a big if - then our past experience suggests we can't be certain players will still be in good nick as the World Cup pulls around.

The real test for our coaching team is whether they can spot that, or if they'll stay loyal to someone who can't reward them by raising his game sufficiently.

In a team which has settled combinations, you often find that the cohesion in the side can compensate when someone's standards drop in a match. England don't really seem to have that luxury, so we need to be certain that anyone taking the field as the World Cup pulls their weight.

Lost form or been injured, but with a little bit of coaching indecision thrown in…..Rokodugni was the next best thing for what, 17 minutes? Will he figure again?

The huge pool of talent England draw from is as much of a reason for not finding cohesion as the injury/form issue is. Lancaster really has to find and back his first choices during the course of this competition and stick with them until the RWC. With no Launchbury, Cole, Morgan, Manu et al he is unable to do that again and time really is running out. As a result of that lack of cohesion England definitely haven't fulfilled the potential that their pool of players promise to deliver, and it has manifested in a tendency to play somewhat conservative 10 man rugby with the occasional moment of brilliance from the back 3.

But there is more to it than that. For example an ongoing midfield crisis at centre. Barritt was almost forgotten but now seems to be back in the mix and what are the stats on centre combos tested out? Now it's clear Farrell is under scrutiny because he just doesn't spark the back line, which is a shame when you have the likes of May and Brown who show how deadly they can be on the counter but while there is so much flux in the midfield you can't expect any fluency. There has been consistent selection in one position and for me it all starts at 10 but I think most agree Farrell is not the way forward, but to change him now may be just as costly as keeping him and coaching his game to where it needs to be. He does a job and kicks his goals but England need a playmaker. Consequently England meander on with conservative but effective rugby which maintains the status quo and keeps them up there competing, but entirely not where they could be and should be. This year they really have to be a different side - we all expect them to be - and it must start in a couple of weeks where they MUST beat Wales.

A win in Cardiff will be tough to get but is by no means beyond their reach; if they get it i expect to see much less variation in selection from then on. You'd think that if they could just have a period where their form players remain uninjured then consistent selection would lead to a stability  that would allow them to express themselves and start settling in. Taking all that into account I am still not entirely sure what style of rugby Lancaster WANTS then to play; or will he just settle for the W at any cost? As a result he tends to pick the next best player available and if they don't do well then it is easy to replace them with new shoes; a cycle develops where the perception is he seems to be looking for success almost by trial and error, a tweak here and there The thought that Burgess is going to be fast tracked indicates that he is always looking for a touch of individual magic when perhaps he needs to look for a steady cohesive team from consistent selection. Less could be more.

Wales come in for a lot of criticism for their inflexible style and dependency on route 1 rugby. But whatever your feelings about Wales, it has been effective in the NH at least. I don't bring up Wales to suggest they are doing what England should do at all, but they are at the other end of the spectrum to England in that they have almost too much cohesion with far fewer players to select. So their style has evolved based on the skill set of the incumbents and is somewhat driven by necessity. No one can say it isn't working within the inherent limitations it imposes. As such team management is equally problematic; a predictable style that even has its own trademarked name in Gatlandball and this is a result of the exact opposite of England's problems…. Wales have a very well defined back line with clear first choices leading to a predictable style that has only varied once in years against SA in the Autumn. Very Happy

So back to England; arguably Cole is no longer first choice but i think Launchbury and Morgan definitely are…the big problem is Manu as it seems to me England are a different side with him fit and on form, and are willing to build a back line around him as he is a talisman. His absence in Cardiff is another lost opportunity but he is the sort of player who is so strong that he will fit straight back in when fit and I hope he comes back into the squad quickly so that Lancaster can find a 12 to pair him and a 2nd choice 13 assuming Farrell covers 10 and 12, and just stick with them until they come good. I think they should be outside Ford or Cipriani but have a feeling that Farrell may well step up this tournament as he must now feel that pressure that he hasn't had before with only Flood pushing, whose England career was ended for him.

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Post by Geordie Mon 12 Jan 2015, 9:15 am

TJ wrote:My 2p worth?  I think 10 is the real issue and Farrell has not moved on at all in a couple of years.  England lack a playmaker.  Farrell is a poor mans Wilkinson( and I never rated Wilkinson).  The rest of the England team are good if in places uninspiring but someone somewhere ( and its usually the 10) has to provide some unpredictability and magic.  I would play Cipriani because despite his weaknesses and flaws he as those qualities that are lacking.

I don't think tuliagi will provide all the answers when he is back as well.  Too predictable.  You have centres a plenty and all the candidates have been tried and none really shone.  Got space for either  Kyle Eastmond or Jonathan Joseph?  They have impressed me in the AP.

Hartley is a weak point.  He has now proven that he cannot change his lack of self control so that must be the end of his international career.  All teams will know what he is like and he will be targeted to make him lose his temper and get sent off.  At least a year in the AP without a single card before he is considered again.

Tell you what - as a scots fan while I believe many of our first teamplayers are better than their English counterparts but the strength in depth england have compared to us I would kill for.  Come the WC that will be a huge advantage for england.

Opening game - England to win comfortably

Yes he has his moments....but Lancaster isn't going to drop Englands best hooker by a country mile (and one of the worlds best).
Id be curious to know what his actual disciplinary record is like for England. I bet its not actually that bad.

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Post by HammerofThunor Mon 12 Jan 2015, 9:43 am

He bit Ferris when Ferris shoved his fingers in his mouth to get a better grip while attempting to twist his head off.  I think that's it for England.

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Post by englandglory4ever Mon 12 Jan 2015, 9:54 am

Injuries are a given in the game today. No international selector can pick from a totally injury free pot of players. Therefore building depth is essential and for that we must give SL a pat on the back. But the selector is also duty bound to pick the best available and SL has not been100% in that department. Cipriani and Nick Easter come to mind. With Morgan out the next cab off the rank is Easter. If SL fails to bring him in from the cold then there must be some other more sinister dynamic at play. As Brian Moore says. If not why not? SL must tell the fans why not.

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Post by LondonTiger Mon 12 Jan 2015, 10:34 am

HammerofThunor wrote:He bit Ferris when Ferris shoved his fingers in his mouth to get a better grip while attempting to twist his head off.  I think that's it for England.

Attwood shoved his fingers in someones mouth and was bitten. Attwood banned for "fishhooking"
Hartley had someones fingers shoved in his mouth and was banned for biting.

Go Figure.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Mon 12 Jan 2015, 10:43 am

englandglory4ever wrote:Injuries are a given in the game today. No international selector can pick from a totally injury free pot of players. Therefore building depth is essential and for that we must give SL a pat on the back. But the selector is also duty bound to pick the best available and SL has not been100% in that department. Cipriani and Nick Easter come to mind. With Morgan out the next cab off the rank is Easter. If SL fails to bring him in from the cold then there must be some other  more sinister dynamic at play.  As Brian Moore says. If not why not? SL must tell the fans why not.

Would think its because England use their 8 as aheavy duty carrier. Bringing in Easter would mean you would have to look for thatt elsewhere prob Ewers at 6. The next cab is Vunipola then Waldrom or even Armitage.

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Post by Geordie Mon 12 Jan 2015, 11:52 am

Are people forgetting that Ewers is an 8 who has been playing 6?

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Post by No 7&1/2 Mon 12 Jan 2015, 12:04 pm

I think he s proved he can play both but came initially thru at 8 yeah.

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Post by Geordie Mon 12 Jan 2015, 1:07 pm

What about Dickinson - Saints number 8?

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Post by thomh Mon 12 Jan 2015, 1:24 pm

Hasn't he been playing a bit of second row to make way for Manoa?

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Post by TJ Mon 12 Jan 2015, 1:47 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:
TJ wrote:
............Hartley is a weak point.  He has now proven that he cannot change his lack of self control so that must be the end of his international career.  All teams will know what he is like and he will be targeted to make him lose his temper and get sent off.  At least a year in the AP without a single card before he is considered again..................


Yes he has his moments....but Lancaster isn't going to drop Englands best hooker by a country mile (and one of the worlds best).
Id be curious to know what his actual disciplinary record is like for England. I bet its not actually that bad.

Is he really that good? He will cost England a game at some point with his indiscipline. Its not just the cards, its also the penalties and the fact when the red mist descends no one plays as well. Martin Johnson s temper was his main weakness . tems were able to wind him up until he lost the plot and did so regularly. However MJ recognised this weakness in his game and by the WC win had changed his behaviour so this weakness was no longer evident and it improved him as a player. Perhaps he could mentor Hartley?

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Post by No 7&1/2 Mon 12 Jan 2015, 1:57 pm

Does anyone have any serious concerns with Hartley for England though? For the last few bans I've thought he was a bit hard done by. He is the best hooker we have.

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