England’s strangest call-ups: The worst England XV of all-time
RUCK looks at the worst players to have ever pulled on a shirt for the Red Rose.
First of all, we have to say that to play for England you have to be a very good player – but these players, for one reason or another, never quite performed as they would have liked in the white jersey.
This team was inspired and partly taken from Mike Cooper’s origional blog on RuckedOver.
Fullback: Mark Van Gisbergen
Yes, he has a cap – only a fleeting one, as a late replacement for Mark Cueto against Australia in 2005 – but he does boast a 100% winning ratio in international colours, so you can’t knock that. His main strengths were dropping the high ball under limited pressure and getting gassed on the outside.
Winger: Barrie-Jon Mather
He became the first player to represent Great Britain in Rugby League and England in Union. His move to union was part funded by the RFU, who were embarking on a strategy of converting some of leagues best talent. However, Mather struggled to make an impact with Sale and moved back to Castleford in 2000. In spite of his poor form with Sale, Clive Woodward gave Mather his debut against Wales in the famous Grand Slam decider in 1999. However, Mather never played for England again after Wales won the game 32-31, following Scott Gibbs’ superb try.
Centre: Joel Tomkins
Tomkins began his League career with Wigan in 2005 and outside of a short stint with the Widnes Vikings in 2007, played with the Warriors until moving to Saracens in 2011. While Tomkins initially struggled to adapt to union, but his form during the beginning of the 2013/14 season saw him earn an England cap against Australia in November 2013. Although he went on to make two further international appearances, he looked completely out of his depth and returned to league soon after.
Centre: Sam Burgess
England, who fast-tracked Burgess into their World Cup squad in defiance of logic, Bath and the player himself each shoulder varying degrees of blame for arguably the greatest cross-code flop in history. We’re not saying he was an awful player, but the whole thing was a complete disaster.
Winger: Lesley Vanikolo
The Volcano’ stormed onto the scene for Gloucester, doing something ridiculous like scoring five tries on his debut against Leeds, before qualifying for England on residency grounds. International honours followed, with Vainikolo making his England debut against Wales in 2008. However, he failed to bring his try-scoring form to the international scene and was quickly dropped from Martin Johnston’s squad after winning five caps.