The England XV for the first test of this summerâ€™s tour of New Zealand is likely to be a bit unusual given the clash with the Aviva Premiership final.
That means that players from Northampton Saints and Saracens will be unavailable for selection in the first test. We have therefore decided to pick out side based on those already selected in Stuart Lancasterâ€™s 41 strong traiing squad, plus the likely call ups that he will make from Bath and London Wasps on Monday.
Let us know what you think, and send us in your proposed starting XVs for the 1st Test in New Zealand!
Possible England XV v New Zeland, Saturday 7th June:
2 Webber (Ward)
16 Ward (Cowan-Dickie)
Where possible we have gone with the most established available player as that is surely the route that Stuart Lancaster will take.
That sees Joe Marler and Dave Wilson start at prop, a hard decision to argue with given their recent England from.
It also sees Rob Webber get the nod at hooker, assuming he recovers from injury. Should he fail to recover then things might get interesting. Dave Ward is probably the form man available but his Harlequins teammates Rob Buchanan and Joe Gray might fancy a shot too, while Saleâ€™s Tommy Taylor is in the mix too.
Our bet in Webber absence would be for Ward to start and for young Luke Cowan-Dickie to get a bolterâ€™s spot on the bench.
Joe Launchbury will almost certainly start in the second row but his partner is up for debate in Courtney Lawesâ€™ absence. Dave Attwood has done his fair share of bench duty and might fancy a start, while Ed Slater has been hammering away at the door. Our bet is for Geoff Parling to come back into the side though. He was brilliant in 2013 and starred for the Lions before injury opened the door for Lawes this season.
Chris Robshaw must surely start at 7 and captain the side, while in Billy Vunipolaâ€™s absence it seems certain that Ben Morgan will come in at number 8. With Tom Wood and Tom Croft both unavailable though the blinside spot is very much up for grabs.
It could be an opportunity to move Robshaw there and try a â€˜true 7â€™ like Kvesic on the openside but it seems more likely to keep Robshaw at 7 and that 6 will be a straight shootout between Tom Johnson and James Haskell, assuming Haskell is taken. If he is, we would plump for Haskell, who is in the form of his life.
In the backs the Harlequins pair of Danny Care and Mike Brown are surely dead certs a 9 and 15 after their Six Nations displays, though Brown does have a thigh injury to overcome.
Manu Tuilagi will surely slot back in at 13, particularly with Luther Burrell unavailable, and while many might fancy Kyle Eastmond at 12 or to find room for Elliot Daly by shifting Tuilagi in one, it would be a great surprise to see Billy Twelvetrees miss out on the first test for anything other than injury.
The clamour for Danny Cipriani to be included at fly half will be huge but if George Ford is not given the starting berth then it rather makes a mockery of the EPS system, not to mention the brilliance of the Bath pivotâ€™s form. There might well be room for Cipriani on the bench though given Freddie Burnsâ€™ dire form this year.
Marland Yarde will surely come back onto the wing after missing the Six Nations through injury, and with Christian Wade and Jack Nowell both out injured it seems likely that Jonny May will keep his place on the wing.
Likely selection pool for 1st Test v New Zealand:
London Wasps Potential Call Ups: James Haskell, Elliot Daly, Joe Launchbury, Matt Mullan, Joe Simpson (Christian Wade injured).
Bath Potential Call Cups: Dave Attwood, Nathan Catt, David Wilson, Kyle Eastmond, George Ford, Jonathan Joseph, Semesa Rokoduguni, Anthony Watson.
England Training Squad:
Anthony Allen (Leicester Tigers) – Centre
Mike Brown (Harlequins)â€¨- Full Back
Ross Buchanan (Harlequins)â€¨- Hooker
Danny Care (Harlequins)â€¨- Scrum Half
Will Collier (Harlequins)â€¨- Prop
James Gaskell (Sale Sharks)â€¨- Back Row/Second Row
Jamie Gibson (Leicester Tigers) – Flanker
Joe Gray (Harlequins)â€¨- Hooker
Ross Harrison (Sale Sharks)â€¨- Prop
Graham Kitchener (Leicester Tigers)â€¨- Second Row
Joe Marler (Harlequins)â€¨- Loosehead
Charlie Matthews (Harlequins)â€¨- Second Row
Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers)â€¨- Second Row
Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)â€¨- Flanker
Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers)â€¨- Second Row
Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins)â€¨- Prop
Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)â€¨- Centre
Luke Wallace (Harlequins)â€¨- Flanker
Dave Ward (Harlequins)â€¨- Hooker
Rob Webber (Bath Rugby)â€¨- Hooker
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers) â€“ Scrum HalfÂ
Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons) – Loosehead
Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby) â€“ Fly Half
Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks) â€“ Fly Half
Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs) – Hooker
Dave Ewers (Exeter Chiefs) â€“ Back Row
Sam Hill (Exeter Chiefs) – Centre
Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs) â€“ Back Row
Matt Kvesic (Gloucester Rugby) – Openside
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby) – Wing
Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby) â€“ Number 8
Michael Paterson (Sale Sharks) â€“ Second Row
Chris Pennell (Worcester Warriors) â€“ Full Back
Dan Robson (Gloucester Rugby) â€“ Scrum Half
Charlie Sharples (Gloucester Rugby) – Wing
Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs) â€“ Fly Half
Tommy Taylor (Sale Sharks) – Hooker
Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks) – Tighthead
Henry Trinder (Gloucester Rugby)â€¨- Centre
Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby) – Centre
Marland Yarde (London Irish) – Wing