Who Should England Pick This Autumn Nations Cup?

Even though England are coming off of a job well done, it was hardly the triumph we had hoped for this Six Nations. Clumsy performances against Italy and France, a damp squib against Scotland in torrential conditions and an inconsistent match-up with Wales didn't really echo the electrifying form of the Rugby World Cup last year.


There were hence calls for a new look side going into the final game with the Azzurri, to shake things up and perhaps add some heat to the veterans starting places. However, with silverware in the bag, you can hardly complain at the decisions that came before the fixture.


However, this Autumn Nations Cup presents a very different challenge for this surprisingly young, yet experienced side. What meaning does it have? Difficult to tell until we really feel the thrill of the occasion. Will it intensify the already congested fixture list? Almost definitely. Perhaps then it's time to rotate in some key areas, try some new things early and really give us a comprehensive view of the talent England has to offer at the international stage ahead of next year's Six Nations.


Here is who we would pick:

  1. Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers)

  2. Luke Cowan - Dickie (Exeter)

  3. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears)

  4. Maro Itoje (Saracens & Captain)

  5. Joe Launchbury (Wasps & Vice Captain)

  6. Tom Curry (Sale)

  7. Jack Willis (Wasps)

  8. Sam Simmonds (Exeter)

  9. Dan Robson (Wasps)

  10. Joe Simmonds (Exeter)

  11. Ollie Thorley (Gloucester)

  12. Ollie Lawrence (Worcester)

  13. Joe Marchant (Harlequins)

  14. Jonny May (Gloucester)

  15. Anthony Watson (Bath)

Replacements:


16. Beno Obano (Bath)

17. Alfie Barbeary (Wasps)

18. Harry Williams (Exeter)

19. Jonny Hill (Exeter)

20. Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins)

21. Ben Spencer (Bath)

22. Henry Slade (Exeter)

23. Joe Cokanasiga (Bath)


Wider Training Squad:


Tom Dunn (Bath)

Ben Harris (Wasps)

Alec Hepburn (Exeter)

Charlie Ewels (Bath)

Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints)

Zach Kibirige (Wasps)

George Furbank (Northampton Saints)


So let's explain some of the choices here. I would choose to treat this tournament in a similar fashion to how we treated our tours to Argentina in the past. In that breakthrough tour, we saw standout performances from Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Marland Yarde, Joe Cokanasiga and Jack Maunder just to name a few. We also had first team staples re-find form with George Ford leading the side, James Haskell and Robshaw adding some grit in the fringe and big Joe Launchbury keeping the lineout ticking over. We've tried to incorporate that blend here, keeping the average age of the squad at around 24/25 whilst still adding some ballast in key areas. Folks like Farrell, Underhill and Slade don't particularly need to prove themselves any further and are likely 2023 World Cup starters. Also with major fixture congestion, you have to share the wealth a little bit throughout the league rather than sticking with your go-to guys.


It also presents an unbelievable chance to blood Itoje as a new look captain for this new wave of English talent. New look faces will be looking to him to lead them out over the next 6/7 years, so what better chance than in a tournament that presents no real value or pressure?


What are your thoughts, do you agree with us?

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