Even though both Warren Gatland and Stuart Lancaster tend to ignore our advice we are not going to be perturbed. George and I have put the underwhelming Lions selection behind us and have turned our attention to the England tour of Argentina. Although England have made great progress in the last year there are still question marks over the centre pairing, back row balance and counter-attacking ability of the back three. With this in mind we have highlighted three players we would like to see play in a developing England side for this tour.
Christian Wade – This isn’t a suggestion, he absolutely HAS to tour. Wade is easily the most exciting winger playing in the premiership, has scored 11 tries and a quick search on youtube will show how many were scorchers. His flat speed is impressive but his acceleration and ability to change direction in the blink of an eye is what sets him apart. You can’t watch him play and not think about Jason Robinson as he possesses the same fast feet and rugby brain. He doesn’t need space and has developed an incredibly knack of standing up defenders as they try to close him down. As he isn’t that big there will be inevitable questions about his defensive ability but I would prefer to have him in the side to coach that perceived weakness rather than leave him out.
Joel Tomkins – If common sense prevails and Billy Twelvetrees gets a decent run at inside centre then I would like to test some options outside him while Manu is with the lions. There are several candidates but as I’m a big fan of rugby league I’d like to see if Joel Tomkins can bring the quality of finishing he managed for Wigan to the England team. It takes a while to adjust to rugby union but Joel has played the majority of Saracens games this season, settled in well and even scored a few tries. He is defensively solid, fast and powerful which should appeal to Stuart Lancaster.
Matt Kvesic – Despite having a number of high quality back row players the one thing England lack is a specialist open side flanker. Steffon Armitage was largely ignored and I’m sure this is one of the reasons why he decided to play in France. Thankfully, Matt Kvesic has opted to play for Gloucester where I hope he will be encouraged to play with the freedom they love at Kingsholm. He is fast, links well with the backs and is powerful enough to be able to be a real handful at the breakdown. This clip from a recent defeat to Saracens shows him spinning out of a tackle before setting up the backs for a try then scoring himself from a more conventional forward route. I’d like to see England vary the team based on the opposition and having a player with Kvesic’s abilities certainly adds to their options.
My starting line-up for the first test against Argentina would be as follows
15 – Mike Brown (needs to be back where he belongs not stuck out on the wing)
14 – Christian Wade
13 – Joel Tomkins
12 – Billy Twelvetrees
11 – David Strettle (overlooked for far too long)
10 – Toby Flood (experienced player who can control the game and be a leader)
9 – Danny Care (should be first choice scrum half all the time)
1 – Joe Marler (big chance to show he can scrummage against formidable opposition)
2 – Joe Gray (more mobile than other hookers and deserves a chance to prove himself at international level)
3 – Alex Corbisiero
4 – Joe Launchbury (reputation took a knock in Cardiff and needs to show he can compete in big games)
5 – Courtney Lawes (opposite of Launchbury, needs to prove he is more than a thug)
6 – Tom Wood (captain)
7 – Matt Kvesic
8 – Billy Vunipola (injury to Morgan showed we need proven ball carrying options at 8)
I would take some of the more experienced players such as Morgan, Ashton, Foden and Haskell but I would give Chris Robshaw the summer off to rest. He may not be to Warren Gatland’s taste but he is a vital part of the England set up and has nothing to prove to anyone. I’d prefer to let him spend the summer on the beach and return to action fully rested.
All comments, thoughts and views are welcome in the box below.