England Rugby squad released for Autumn Internationals


The Squad

Tom Curry (Sale Sharks), Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby), Jamie George (Saracens), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints) co-captain, Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs), Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors) *, Maro Itoje (Saracens), George Kruis (Saracens), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby), Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs), Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby), Michael Rhodes (Saracens), Nick Schonert (Worcester Warriors), Brad Shields (Wasps), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Elliott Stooke (Bath Rugby), Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby), Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs), Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons)
Chris Ashton (Sale Sharks), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Danny Care (Harlequins), Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Nathan Earle (Harlequins), Owen Farrell (Saracens) co-captain, George Ford (Leicester Tigers), Alex Lozowski (Saracens), Jonny May (Leicester Tigers), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).

Tough Challenge Ahead

As King Eddie has pointed out in his press conference, ‘we can only control what we can control and injuries have happened,’ so there is a chance for some new faces to make an impression for what is a pretty massive series of Test matches at HQ next month. New Zealand don’t visit very often, South Africa will be very keen to continue their fine development under Rassie Erasmus and Australia just hate the English on any sporting pitch. Plus, Japan will be the meat in the Tri-Nations sandwich. The Cherry Blossoms will be wanting to put on a good show and perhaps give their former coach a little reminder of what he is missing. 



As predicted Dylan Hartley comes back in to the squad. He will share leadership duties with Owen Farrell. Ironically, the former offers a bit of stability in the squad which will hopefully allow the latter to get on with just playing exceptionally; as opposed to arguing tirelessly with everyone. 
In the backs, Chris Ashton is back from exile, there still seems to be a spot for Richard Wigglesworth – which is strange. Perhaps if Dan Robson hadn’t have been injured he would have not have been picked. Joe Cokanasiga is rewarded for his early season form at Bath. Hopefully he’ll get a chance to show what he can do. We’d enjoy watching him run into a little Australian! It is good to have Manu back. He’ll hopefully stay fit for long enough to play his part. Remember November 2012? Those were the days.  Otherwise there are few surprises in the inclusions department.
An England pack with both Vuniploas is a becoming a rare old thing. Billy is out for another 12 weeks with another broken arm. That’s his third if anyone is counting. Mako has damaged one of his calf muscles and is out for 6 weeks. With Nathan Hughes banned and the indomitable Chris Robshaw out so there is room for a new (old) face.  Ben Morgan is back. He never really let anyone down in an England shirt so I hope he gets a start. 
It’s time for Brad Shields to show what he can really do, Zach Mecer is as ready as he’ll ever be and Sam Undershill needs a run at 7 so expect a little interchanging with Tom Curry. As for the props? I simply have no idea. Kyle Sickler on one side. Then it is anyone’s guess. Joe Marler has left a big hole and have we seen the last of Dan Cole?

No room for the Cherry (and White) on the cake

A rugby column on the England Rugby team would not be the same if it didn’t mention Mr Cipriani. It seems like Eddie has joined the long list of coaches who have jettisoned the man from a squad. After his unfortunate pre-season fracas in Jersey it was always going to be tough to make a positive impression. In spite of his contribution on tour during the Summer. Clearly, a couple of beautiful passes, being named September player of the month and some match winning performances for his new club, Gloucester, were not enough.
The large pro-Danny squad seemed to have over looked the faults in his game. There was a touch of the selfish and poor decision making at Kingsholm last weekend against Castres, which probably made the decision easy. Next time throw the ball to the unmarked man, Danny. Your national coach is in the stand. Glaws coach and Bokke, Johann Ackermann will be pleased. Probably for two reasons. 


A prediction

There is only one place to go for that and that is to our Irish correspondent, David. He always has one eye on somewhere else other than the Aviva stadium and Leinster’s march towards European domination. Before that I think 2-2. A loss to SA and NZ and a win against Japan and the Aussies. Frankly, the improvement of the South Africans is pretty terrifying. If there was a spare rand flying about they would be my bet for the World Cup.

Anyway, to David from Belfast. It is bound to a good read.
“‘English rugby is certainly at a crossroads, the autumn internationals bring three massive tests with a resurgent South Africa, an Aussie squad needing some momentum and of course the soon to be number 2 nation in the world (once Ireland beat them) the All Blacks. At the moment I would say england are looking at 1 win out of 4 and it might be a scrape past Japan. With current injuries, England are left with back row options including our postman and LWTL’s own James Hallett. Tough times for English fans!”
See, I told you. The only thing he got wrong is that I can’t play. Broken metatarsal. 



It can be easy to be England centric on these posts so in order to limit the accusation that we never talk about any of the other home nations we have news from Scotland. They have released their squad too. They have cast the net far and wide. It is not as bad as when Wales picked Shane Howarth because he had a goldfish that was born in Carmarthen but not far off ;). The Scots take on Wales, Fiji, South Africa and Argentina. They could win all 4. Whatever happens the match against Wales for Doddle Weir will be a special occasion.
All in all we hope for a good showing from all the home nations against Southern Hemisphere opposition. Afterall, there’s a World Cup next year.

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