Johno's Team Selection Stirs It Up a Little
Well the talk of English rugby is all about Martin Johnson and what is hoped to be a turning point and new era for England rugby.
Johno's selection is well documented, has not got a definitive captain as of yet but the squad for the first team is as follows:
Forwards: Steve Borthwick (Saracens), George Chuter (Leicester Tigers), Jordan Crane (Leicester Tigers), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (London Wasps), Nick Kennedy (London Irish), Lee Mears (Bath), Lewis Moody (Leicester Tigers), Luke Narraway (Gloucester ), Tom Palmer (London Wasps), Tim Payne (London Wasps), Tom Rees (London Wasps), Simon Shaw (London Wasps), Andrew Sheridan (Sale Sharks), Matt Stevens (Bath), Phil Vickery (London Wasps).
Backs: Olly Barkley (Gloucester), Danny Care (Harlequins), Harry Ellis (Leicester Tigers), Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), Riki Flutey (London Wasps), Shane Geraghty (London Irish), Dan Hipkiss (Leicester Tigers), Josh Lewsey (London Wasps), Jamie Noon (Newcastle Falcons), Pete Richards (London Irish), Paul Sackey (London Wasps), James Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester), Mathew Tait (Sale Sharks), Tom Varndell (Leicester Tigers), Jonny Wilkinson (Newcastle Falcons).
I personally find this squad to be very refreshing, it doesn't include the same names on reputation appears to be brave and inovative.
The inclusion of Riki Flutey has had some associated controversy being that he is New Zealand born (with caps for New Zealand Maori) and becomes eligible to play for England in September. I however as a Wasps fan see this a smart move, as the man is a dynamic centre with a good kicking ability, while still being imaginative, strong in the tackle and a good distributor of the ball. Flutey is also arguably a more mature rugby footballer than the young Toby Flood and Shane Geraghty, he also has an arguably cooler head than Olly Barkley and is younger and more sprightly than the former force that was Mike Tindall (now demoted to to England Saxons), the man however on his day is not as good in defence as Jamie Noon.
The new selection also includes a warm welcome back for James "Sinbad" Simpson-Daniel who through a combination of ill selection and injury has had only a mere 10 caps at international level, fairly criminal if you ask me. I feel that the 13 shirt however should go straight to that man being the Guinness Premiership's player of the season for 2008. I am relishing the potential partnership of Flutey and Simpson-Daniel and think it could be potentially the best attacking centre partnership this country can muster.
If I was to pick a 22 from this squad, based on absolutely no observation of their fitness over the off-season it would be as follows:
1-Andrew Sheridan, 2-Lee Mears, 3-Matt Stevens
4-Simon Shaw, 5-Steve Borthwick
6-James Haskell, 7-Tom Rees, 8-Jordan Crane
9-Harry Ellis, 10-Jonny Wilkinson
11-Josh Lewsey, 12-Riki Flutey, 13-James Simpson Daniel, 14-Paul Sackey
16-Dylan Hartley, 17-Phil Vickery, 18-Tom Croft, 19-Luke Narraway, 20-Danny Care, 21-Olly Barkley, 22-Jamie Noon
I believe this is the best balanced pack, best distributing half back combination and creative and dynamic back line. Obviously I am no expert but i would like to see a team like this come the Autumn internationals.
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