England will go into the upcoming RBS Six Nations as favourites but who should be in their starting line-up?
My England XV:
15. Alex Goode
14. Chris Ashton
13. Manu Tuilagi
12. Billy Twelvetrees
11. Mike Brown
10. Owen Farrell
9. Ben Youngs
1. Alex Corbisiero
2. Dylan Hartley
3. Dan Coles
4. Courtney Lawes
5. Geoff Parling
6. Tom Croft
7. Chris Robshaw
8. Thomas Walldrom
Bench: Joe Marler, Tom Youngs, Joe Launchbury, James Haskell, Danny Care, Toby Flood, Ben Foden
Squad: Mako Vunipola, Louis Deacon, Tom Wood, Joe Simpson, Freddy Burns, Jordan Tuner-Hall, Charlie Sharples
Starting with the backs, I think it is clear that Ben Youngs is the best scrum half we have right now but he has a tendency to have some quite poor games. When these occur it is best to get him off as soon as humanly possible.
Danny Care would be able to come off the bench and inject some pace into the last 20 minutes of each game. When the opposition are tired he can be more than a handful for defenders and will speed up our tempo if we are chasing the game.
Owen Farrell is the most talented attacker that England have probably ever produced. Extremely creative with Jonny Wilkinson kicking ability, hopefully he won’t miss any important tackles!
Toby Flood makes for a very consistent backup though Freddy Burns is closer to Farrell’s style and could eventually take over from Flood.
In midfield I would play Twelvetrees and Tuliagi against weaker opposition but replace the Gloucester number 12 with Brad Barrett against stronger opposition. Twelvetrees would give Farrell help in the kicking game as well as be another creative mind on the pitch.
I can’t believe that former Tigers man has never received a cap for England and fully deserves the one that he will receive on Saturday.
I’m not a fan of playing full-backs on the wing but Mike Brown has been fantastic of late so I would probably start Alex Goode at 15 with Ashton on the other wings.
The forwards have been playing pretty well and I think most of the current ones are clearly the correct choice.
Corbisiero and Cole are the obvious starters at prop with Youngs or Hartley in the middle.
Locks are a much more difficult decision, Lawes is extremely athletic and an excellent ball carrier. Borthwick has been in great form for Saracens, as had Mouritz Botha, while Deacon and Parling have been great for Leicester. Launchbury too has done a great job for Wasps.
How anyone can differentiate between these players is beyond me. I would probably opt for Lawes and Parling but I can’t argue with any of these players.
On the blindside I would choose Tom Croft and his blistering pace whilst Robshaw should carry on at openside and Leicester’s Kiwi maestro Wallstrom should get the nod ahead of Morgan.