England XV to play Australia – Steve Smith names his team for first Test
Ahead of England’s tour of Australia, RUCK.co.uk editor Steve Smith has named the XV he would select to face the Wallabies in the first Test, on June 11.
The Harlequins fullback has not been at his best as of late but considering his displays in the England shirt in recent times it’s hard to overlook him to start the first test. Premiership player of the year Alex Goode should probably be in the team on merit and is unlucky to miss out but will probably get a chance to impress off the bench. This summer tour is probably the Saracens man’s best chance to displace Brown but he will have to wait his turn.
Yarde’s development over the past season has been exciting for any fan of outstanding wing play and it’s probably now time to test him on the international stage. The majority of people presumably expected me to go for Anthony Watson and although he was excellent during the Six Nations his season at Bath has been nothing short of horrendous, scoring just one try in nine starts. I would have probably selected Chris Ashton in fairness…but he isn’t an option.
One of the few frustrating aspects of England’s Six Nations triumph was the lack of action seen by Wasps resident long-distance kicker Daly. The centre has been one of the most consistent performers in the Aviva Premiership and Champions Cup this season and more than deserves his chance to shine on the Test rugby stage.
The shadow of convert failure Sam Burgess inevitably hangs over his rapid rise from Leinster’s midfield to England’s squad. Te’os imminent move to Worcester this summer and English mother make him eligible and with Manu Tuilagi’s withdrawing today he has a good chance of making his Test debut in Brisbane on 11 June. His abilities also contrast effectively with Daly’s, meaning they could potentially work well as a pair.
Nowell’s hat-trick of tries in Exeter’s final league demolishing of Harlequins helped ensure the Chiefs achieved their highest ever finish in the top flight. He then went on to play a starring role as Chiefs overcame Wasps to reach their first ever Aviva Premiership final, which is against Saracens this coming Saturday. The speedster would be one of the first names on the teamsheet for me.
Although sometimes a controversial figure, Farrell has been England’s best number 10 for a while now with George Ford struggling to recapture his best form. He kicked all of Sarries points as they won their very first Champions Cup and is one of the England players with the potential to be world class. He also ended as the Six Nations top points scorer with 69.
It remains a close call between the Quins man and Ben Youngs, but I’ll go with the Care. The 29-year-olds creativity and extra bit of flair could be the difference between edging a game and losing narrowly while Youngs’ is more of a steady player. It really depends on how Eddie Jones wants to approach the first Test. I presume he’d go with the more stable Youngs though to be honest.
With Joe Marler dropping out, the former British Lion now has the opportunity to replicate his Saracens form at Test level in an England shirt once again. I’m more than sure he will deliver.
England coach Eddie Jones said skipper Dylan Hartley was “adequate” as a player during the Six Nations – but saluted his captaincy. You’d expect, despite missing a lot of rugby since the Grand Slam triumph, that Hartley will lead his country out once again in Brisbane.
Solid as a rock. His scrummaging prowess and Test experience will be useful in what is a rather inexperienced XV when it comes to touring.
Besides combining brilliantly with his club team-mate Kruis, Itoje looks set to live up to the hype after being named European Player of the Year. Superb at lock, skilful and powerful, he would seem to have a huge future ahead of him and seems an England captain in the making. Even at just 21-years-old he is a must starter if such a thing exists.
Bizarrely overshadowed for the player of the tournament shortlist during the Six Nations, few were better than Saracens Kruis during England’s run to the Grand Slam. Great engine, great balance of athleticism and physicality make him one of Saracens and Englands’ most exciting talents alongside Itoje. They are in my opinion the best second-row pairing in the world right now!
Robshaw was stripped of the captaincy by Jones when he took over from Stuart Lancaster but has responded with a series of outstanding performances for both club and country. Hopefully, we’ll continue to see the best of the Quins flanker this summer as he continues to rebuild his reputation after a tough few years.
He may have experienced one of the most memorable season’s to-date of his rugby career but Wasps skipper Haskell has healthy opposition for his starting place. His passion, commitment and consistency in the England shirt during the Six Nations means it’s likely he will retain his place though.
Could I have realistically left him out? Player of the tournament during the Six Nations with his consistent heavyweight ball-carrying and bone-crushing tackles. Northampton’s Teimana Harrison though does offer some exciting competition while Nathan Hughes will also be added to the mix later this year.