Who Would Be In Your England Team For The Opening Game Against Wales?
Lovell Rugby thinks the game will be vital especially for England, who could do with a win to give them confidence for the rest of the championship. The championship which we think is more open than most think. Most people would suggest Ireland are Favourites at this stage after a solid Autumn international period. Although this year all teams are capable of turning each other over.
After Englands indifferent but slightly improving form in November and the return of Key players from Injury Lovell Rugby is fairly optimistic England can rediscover winning ways.
We have been watching the Guinness Preimership closely and Heineken cup closely monitoring players from to see who are the favouries to start at Twickenham.
Lovell Rugby has picked the starting 15 for the Wales game below, as ever you welcome your thoughts on the team and look forward to your selections!
15- Delon Armitage- A very tight call with Ben Foden on Fire Currently, Armitage (Who wears Adidas Predator X Rugby boots) had great debut season for England and greater experience slightly gives him the nod. Although if Foden has a big game against Munster on Friday night in their winner takes all clash could make big late push.
14- Chris Aston- Scoring trys for fun currently. Is a natural finisher. Has vastly improved areas of his game and at just 22 has big future ahead of him. Recently signed for the Saints for another 2 years. Pushes ahead of Cueto as form is hard to ignore. Although Cueto was one of Englands better performers in the Autumn.
13- Shontayne Hape- The Bath centre plays mainly 12 although can play 13. When Barkley returns to fitness for Bath will push Hape (Who wears Puma V-10 Rugby Boots) out to 13 more often. Many think 13 is better suited as has more room on the outside to use deceptive pace, powerfull running and sublime off loading skills. We have gone for him above Hipkiss and Matthew Tait as also will defensively be able to cope with power of Wales Jamie Roberts better.
12- Ricki Flutey- The Brive centre has only just returned to fitness following a nasty shoulder injury. Before was playing a vital role in the England backline with his ability to help organise the England back line and his strong running combined with a great step. With Hape will have the perfect balance of power, pace and definsive quality. Gets nod ahead of Leicester Toby Flood as Flood since returning to fitness has mainly played 10 for the Tigers.
11- Ugo Monye- Season started with breathtaking form at Full back for Harlequins. By his own standards did not play to his ability in two games at full back for England, but looked dangerous back on the wing against the All Blacks. Two trys in Toulouse on the weekend showed he is getting back near his best, looked sharp and came looking for lots of work. Goes in ahead of Bath man mountain Matt Bannahan as the wing did not hit top gear in November for England, although did score sole try against Argentina.
10- Jonny Wilkinson- Will be big championship for the Toulon pivot. Played well in bits in Autumn series but still is not getting the backline moving. Needs to replacate this Toulon form to England, where is is standing flatter in attack. If cannot get backline moving Flood will surely have to play 10. Will enjoy having Flutey back as will act as a second 10 in the team.
9- Danny Care- A Close One between Care and London Irish’s Paul Hodgson, was a close call between the two in the Autumn. Both offer different options, with Care (who wears Nike Laser 3 Rugby Boots) more of a threat running while Hodgson is more of a terrior around the base barking instructions. When you think England when fit and selected can also call on Wasps Joe Simpson, Tigers Harry Ellis, Falcons Micky Young and Tigers young scrum half Ben Youngs England are certainly well stocked in this area.
8- Nick Easter- His powerful and steady presence was missed in November. Also has alot of Experience with England now. Crane did not impress in games when Easter was injured and Haskell more suited to the flank. Dan Ward Smith in the Saxons, surely only a matter of time before he gets a chance now has left injuries behind him.
7- Lewis Moody- Moody was Englands stand out player in the November internationals. Has also been playing well for the Tigers and is one of the teams real leaders. London Irish’s Steffon Armitage could be a good option from the bench, although Johnson is looking forward to the return of Wasps captain Tom Rees to add extra competition to this area.
6- James Haskell- Played well in Autumn tesys. Not so comfortable at 8 as is on Flank. Haskell (wearing his Adidas Rugby headguard) has been putting together some good performances for Stade Francais where he must be enjoying playing with their star back row options. With Croft also out with a knee injury picked up last weekend so a real chance to nail down his position.
5- Steve Borthwick- The Saracens Captain who was heavily criticised in the Autumn needs a big six nations for himself and from the team to take pressure off him. Great Line out forward but needs to offer more in the loose and carry more. If England loose their opening game Johnson will be under lots of Pressure to Start young Northampton Saint Courtney Lawes. Who surely will get good pitch time in this years championship.
4- Simon Shaw- Despite his advancing years Shaw has been outstanding this season. Was one of the Lions best players in the summer and his return to fitness has given Wasps a big lift.Lawes would be his ideal foil in the second row.
3- David Wilson- The Young Bath prop who made his debut against the Wallabies will be hoping to build on some solid performances in the autumn.
2- Dylan Hartley- The Young and Aggresive Saints hooker will be looking to nail down the starting Hooker slot from both Steve Thompson and Bath’s Lee Mears. Has been leading Northampton well and being captain is maturing him well to go with his explosive play. World Cup Winner Thompson can add experience from the bench after a return from the international wilderness in November.
1- Tim Payne- The Wasps scrum has struggled of late so the pressure will be on Payne to produce some good performances. With Sheriden and Vickery out Young Leicester Prop Dan Cole has been earning rave reviews, as has young Falcons prop John Goulding. Both could be great options from the bench. Giving them the experience at the top level.
Whats your thoughts? who would you pick?