We pick our England World Cup Squad as Lancaster names 23 to face N.Z


Stuart Lancaster has named the 23 men to represent England against New Zealand this weekend, all that remains is to see who is selected to start, and who will be on the bench.

In truth it seems a relatively straightforward selection given the 23 left in camp. Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley, and David Wilson will surely start in the front row, with Rob Webber, Matt Mullan, and Kieran Brookes on the bench.

Baby permitting, Dave Attwood will surely start alongside Courtney Lawes in the second row, with George Kruis awaiting his debut from the bench.

Tom Wood, Billy Vunipola, and Chris Robshaw as captain must just about pick themselves in the back row, with Ben Morgan waiting in the wings to make a late impact as in the summer.

In the backs Danny Care has made the nine shirt his own, as has Owen Farrell at 10 despite a limited season thus far. Ben Youngs and George Ford will be their replacements.

As the only centres in the squad Kyle Eastmond and Brad Barritt look guaranteed to start, unless Lancaster decides to experiment with the old England U20 combination of Ford at 10 and Farrell at 12, that would seem unlikely at this stage though.

At first glance then the only real position for debate could be on the wings. Semesa Rokoduguni will surely get his first start, while Mike Brown will definitely start at full back, however the other wing spot could be up for debate between Anthony Watson and Jonny May, though in all likelihood May will start as the man in possession, with Watson making his debut from the bench.

So far, so straightforward. So how is this side likely to compare to the World Cup team? With just ten internationals to go until the World Cup, plus a couple of warm up games against France and Ireland, this has to be getting pretty close to the group that Lancaster wants to represent England at the competition.

Oddly, despite being so settled, the front row could see one of the bigger shake ups, with Dan Cole, Mako Vunipola, Alex Corbisiero, and Tom Youngs all absent through injury, all four will likely be in the World Cup squad and a fit Cole and Corbisiero would probably start.

Joe Launchbury would certainly start in the second row were he not injured, and if Geoff Parling returns following his concussion worries then he would surely be in the squad. While James Haskell is surely on returning to his club in the back row this weekend because of his illness issues recently, his form certainly merits at least a place on the bench.

The backline is a little more volatile but the half backs seem settled, the centres, in contrast, are still pretty undecided. Eastmond and Barritt are now likely to be in the 31 man squad, barring disaster this autumn, but Manu Tuilagi will surely start when he is fit, and it seems unlikely that Billy Twelvetrees will not also be in the squad – could Sam Burgess make a late charge for that spot though?

Mike Brown is a certainty at full back, and Alex Goode seems pretty likely to go as cover there, and as a possible emergency third choice fly half. The wings are a real lottery though. Marland Yarde’s return to Harlequins this weekend suggests he has slipped down the pecking order but a return to form will see him back on top of the pile.

Semesa Rokoduguni is the man of the moment and a strong autumn could well see him inked into the squad for the World Cup. England will take another wing though and between Saturday’s remaining two back three players, Anthony Watson and Jonny May, and the likes of Jack Nowell and Christian Wade, as well as the in form Saracens duo of Chris Ashton and David Strettle, the options are varied, if inexperienced.

As has been the case for the last couple of years, it looks as though the centre and back three positions are going to be by far the most volatile, barring injuries elsewhere, in this final ten games before the tournament begins.

Who would you pick to start in the World Cup & in your wider squad? We’ve chosen ours below – let us know yours! @FifteenRugbyXV

Possible England World Cup XV:

15. Brown  14. Yarde  13. Tuilagi  12. Eastmond  11. Rokoduguni  10. Farrell  9. Care;  1. Corbisiero  2. Hartley  3. Cole  4. Launchbury  5. Lawes  6. Wood  7. Robshaw (c)  8. Vunipola.

Replacements:  16. Youngs  17. Marler  18. Wilson  19. Parling  20. Haskell  21. Youngs  22. Ford  23. Nowell.

Wider Squad: 24. Webber  25. Vunipola  26. Attwood  27. Morgan  28. Dickson  29. Twelvetrees  30. Barritt  31. Goode.

England v N.Z (Probable):

15. Brown  14. May  13. Barritt  12. Eastmond  11. Rokoduguni  10. Farrell  9. Care;  1. Marler  2. Hartley  3. Wilson  4. Attwood  5. Lawes  6. Wood  7. Robshaw (c)  8. Vunipola.

Replacements:  16. Webber  17. Mullan  18. Brookes  19. Kruis  20. Morgan  21. Youngs  22. Ford  23. Watson.

England Squad vs N.Z


Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby)

Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons)

Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)

George Kruis (Saracens)

Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)

Joe Marler (Harlequins)

Matt Mullan (Wasps)

David Wilson (Bath Rugby)

Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby)

Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, captain)

Billy Vunipola (Saracens)

Rob Webber (Bath Rugby)

Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)


Brad Barritt (Saracens)

Mike Brown (Harlequins)

Danny Care (Harlequins)

Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby)

Owen Farrell (Saracens)

George Ford (Bath Rugby)

Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby)

Semesa Rokoduguni (Bath Rugby)

Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby)

Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Returning to Clubs:

Calum Clark (Northampton Saints)

Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints)

Alex Goode (Saracens)

James Haskell (Wasps)

Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby)

Graham Kitchener (Leicester Tigers)

Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)

David Paice (London Irish)

Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)

Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby)

Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)

Marland Yarde (Harlequins)

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