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[2020 Six Nations] England Squad

EdBirch

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So, given there is no more England rugby now until the Barbarians, is it too early to talk about the potential England squad for the summer? No? Good, then I'll begin. :)

Eddie has said he will rest his WC players, but recently said he might take his Sarries in order to get them some quality games away from the Championship. Frankly, I think he's jesting, and there are player welfare rules that might get in his way in any case. However, I do think he'll take the WC players who didn't play many games (injuries permitting), and I think there'll be a few veterans in there rather than an out-and-out youth side. So, with my limited knowledge of Premiership games (terrestrial TV highlights shows), together with previous squads and internet chat, who's in contention?

LH: Ellis Genge, Beno Obano, Alec Hepburn, Ben Moon, Val Rapava-Ruskin
H: Jack Singleton, Alfie Barbeary, Tommy Taylor, Tom Dunn
TH: Will Collier, Joe Heyes, Paul Hill, Ehren Painter, Josh Ibuanokpe, Nick Schonert, Will Stuart, Harry Williams, Marcus Street
L: Alex Moon, Nick Isiekwe, Joel Kpoku, Joe Launchbury, Charlie Ewels, Elliot Stooke, Johnny Hill
FL: Lewis Ludlam, Ben Curry (surely!), Mark Wilson (captain?), Jack Willis, Brad Shields, Ted Hill, Matt Kvesic
N8: Alex Dombrandt (we hope!), Zach Mercer, Sam Simmonds
SH: Ben White, Henry Taylor, Alex Mitchell, Ben Spencer, Dan Robson, Harry Randall, Jack Maunder
FH: Marcus Smith, James Grayson, Jacob Umaga, Callum Sheedy, Manu Vunipola
C: Piers Francis, Fraser Dingwall, Alex Lozowski, Ollie Lawrence, Cameron Redpath, Ollie Devoto
W: Gabriel Ibitoye, Chris Ashton, Marland Yarde(?), Ben Earl(!), Rotimi Segun, Ruaridh McConnochie, Ollie Thorley
FB: George Furbank, Max Malins

Given that most people on this board have a better knowledge of the Premiership than me, who have I missed?

Personally this is how i'd go.

LH: Ellis Genge, Beno Obano, Alec Hepburn
H: Jack Singleton, Tom Dunn
TH: Nick Schonert, Will Stuart, Harry Williams,
L: Nick Isiekwe, Joel Kpoku, Charlie Ewels, Johnny Hill
FL: Lewis Ludlam, Ted Hill, Matt Kvesic, Ben Earl
N8: Zach Mercer, Sam Simmonds
SH: Ben Spencer, Dan Robson, Jack Maunder
FH: Marcus Smith, Jacob Umaga, Callum Sheedy
C: Fraser Dingwall, Alex Lozowski, Ollie Lawrence, Cameron Redpath, Ollie Devoto
W: Gabriel Ibitoye, Rotimi Segun, Ruaridh McConnochie, Ollie Thorley
FB: George Furbank, Max Malins
 

BPM

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I’m not sure how extensive the ‘no first team policy will be’ with the game time rulings etc.

I’m assuming second/third choice players currently in the squad may be there to play leading roles.

Here’s what I’d go for:

1. E. Genge / B. Obano (V. Rapava-Ruskin)
2. L. Cowan-Dickie / T. Dunn (J. Singleton)
3. W. Stuart / H. Williams (J. Heyes)*
4. C. Ewels / N. Isiekwe (J. Hill)
5. J. Launchbury (c) / A. Moon (E. Stooke)
6. J. Willis / T. Hill (L. Ludlam)
7. B. Earl / B. Curry
8. Z. Mercer / A. Dombrandt (S. Simmonds)
9. A. Mitchell / D. Robson (H. Randall)
10. M. Smith / J. Simmonds / J. Umaga
11. O. Thorley / G. Ibitoye
12. O. Devoto / F. Dingwall (C. Redpath)
13. J. Marchant / O. Lawrence (A. Lozowski)
14. B. Loader / T. O’Flaherty (O. Hasell-Collins/R. Segun)
15. M. Malins / G. Furbank (H. Mallinder)

I’m going with something reminiscent of what we’d send on tour in a Lions year (hence the inclusion of Launchbury as captain etc.).

All of the bracketed players are my ‘next cab off the rank’ picks. Some of it is harsh ... I’d be very tempted to take Sam Simmonds, but I think Dombrandt and Mercer are better overall prospects at 8.

Before anyone says anything, I know Dingwall is more of a 13, but he can and does play 12 and we’re lacking obvious options there.

I’ve asterisked Heyes as a possible priority as I hear the Welsh are sniffing around him.
 

Jashay

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I'm not too fussed who goes as long as we see some new 9s, 12s and a 15. Surprised there's not more mentions of the James brothers in these lists tbh.

I'd like to see Isiekwe, Dombrandt, and Simmonds all get some time, too. I really rate them.
 

TRF_Olyy

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Mercer over Dombrandt or Simmonds is pretty barf worthy as well, but he's been in and around Eddie squads before so probably inevitable
 

BPM

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Mercer over Dombrandt or Simmonds is pretty barf worthy as well, but he's been in and around Eddie squads before so probably inevitable

I don’t agree with that. I’m a huge fan of all three, but if I were picking right now, I’d say Mercer’s arguably the best all round player.

He’s quick for a fairly big guy and is a good carrier as well as being a solid defender and a good lineout forward (which Dombrandt and Simmonds aren’t). Also someone of his age, he’s a very influential player at Bath which is a good sign of his character. There’s a lot to like about him and even if his pros are possibly less stellar than Dombrandt or Simmonds’, he has less cons right now.

That said, Dombrandt seems to be really upping his work rate recently and adding more graft to the highlight reel moments. If he carries on doing that, he might become better than Mercer. He has the natural ability and potential to be a special player IMO.

I’m torn with Simmonds. On the one hand I feel he’s surely too good not to feature somewhere and I don’t think he’d have done any worse than Curry did at 8, but on the other, we’re highly unlikely to pick him in combination with Curry and Underhill who are (deservedly) first choice on the flanks.

It really depends on how you want your back row to set-up. You could even argue that a back row of 6. Dombrandt 7. Mercer and 8. Simmonds has a very ‘Exeter’ feel to it and maybe playing all three isn’t as crazy as it sounds. However, you’d imagine we’re always reasonably likely to have at least one of (Tom) Curry, Underhill or Billy playing if fit.

Let’s assume that defence is a basic essential as I think all of our back row options are solid in that regard. In attack I would normally want my back row to have a mix of the carrying, ball-pilfering, link play, ruck/mail nous and lineout options. The numbers don’t matter as much for me as long as the combination is right.

I’ve got a lot of time for Ted Hill as a 6 that offers a good carrying and lineout game and I’d like to see him in combination with Willis or Earl at 7 and one of Dombrandt or Mercer at 8. Any of those combinations would be exciting and well balanced IMO.
 

Old Hooker

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That said, Dombrandt seems to be really upping his work rate recently and adding more graft to the highlight reel moments. If he carries on doing that, he might become better than Mercer. He has the natural ability and potential to be a special player IMO.

Mercer's a good player, but in my book he's unlikely to be more than fine at international level. Dombrandt has the potential to stand out.

You're right that Dombrandt has upped his work rate, but its all about balance. While he needs to work on his broader game, his point of difference is what he can do with ball in hand - he can smash through brick walls, but he's no slouch, runs really smart lines and offloads well. There is no point in a selection / game plan that buries him at the bottom of rucks. Pair Dombrandt with any 2 of Curry, Underhill, Curry, Earl and WIllis on the flanks and you're looking at a tasty back row that covers all the bases, maybe bar a leaping salmon at the line out.....which Olyy will tell you doesn't matter anyway!
 

Not Eddie Jones

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Just noticed I missed a number of players from the list who played against the Barbarians last year. Given that, they must all surely have a chance of being on Eddie's radar. Those players I missed from that list were:

LH: Ross Harrison
L: Josh Beaumont, Will Spencer
FL: Tom Ellis
N8: Teimana Harrison
C: Johnny Williams
W: Ben Loader, Piers O'Conor, Josh Bassett
FB: Simon Hammersley

BPM mentioned Loader, but I don't think anyone's mentioned the rest. Beaumont was captain incidentally. Could count for something.
 

TRF_Olyy

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Beaumont out until next season, completely blew out his knee early doors this season
Hammersley is in great form but doubt he's in contention - not been near a squad since and there's other guys EJ has been eyeing up.
Harrison has been decent this season but I don't think he's anything more than a prem prop

Bassett's a good finisher but nothing screams international winger
 

Ddanno

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Beaumont out until next season, completely blew out his knee early doors this season
Hammersley is in great form but doubt he's in contention - not been near a squad since and there's other guys EJ has been eyeing up.
Harrison has been decent this season but I don't think he's anything more than a prem prop

Bassett's a good finisher but nothing screams international winger

Williams only recently treated for testicular cancer.
 

ncurd

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grabbing, twisting or squeezing the genitals" is 12 weeks, though the commission reduced that by three weeks to take account of mitigating factors, good character and remorse

Wut?
 

BPM

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Well ‘grabbing, twisting or squeezing’ all imply an element of force/violence, which doesn’t really apply to what happened. It was more a case of ‘cupping’ AWJ.

It was a dumb thing to do and I have no excuse for him, but it’s a strange scenario when many cases where there is genuine malice, violence and intent to harm receive significantly less of ban than this.
 

ncurd

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Oh I'm perfectly fine with the ban length, I just find good character considering his record and remorse after the way he kicked off on social media a bit laughable.
 
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