Three talking points as England squad announced for autumn Tests
Sale Sharks star Danny Cirpiani a surprise exclusion
Uncapped trio rewarded for club form
Of the 33-man squad announced on Wednesday, just three have never been capped by their country. Bath winger Semesa Rokoduguni, Saracens lock George Kruis and Northampton back-row forward Calum Clark have all been included in Stuart Lancaster’s squad for the autumn internationals. Clark is the only one of the three who has previously been named in an England squad, but didn’t earn a cap. It is fine reward for the trio who have all been brilliant for their respective clubs this season. Perhaps the most interest of the three selections is Rokoduguni, who having hailed from Fiji, has served as a soldier in the British Army, as a reconnaissance tank soldier of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. He has played for Bath 13 times and has scored six tries. With less than a year till the World Cup, Kruis, Clark and Rokoduguni will be keen to impress and cement a place in the squad for the tournament.
Cipriani misses out despite strong start to the season
Having returned to the Premiership with the intent of getting back into the England team, Danny Cipriani will be no doubt disappointed that he has failed to catch the eye of Lancaster for the autumn international series. Cipriani has been imperious at fly-half for his club Sale Sharks and a lot of pundits were tipping the former Wasps player for a place in England’s squad for the World Cup. However, Lancaster clearly believes he hasn’t done enough to deserve a place in the squad ahead of Owen Farrell, George Ford and Stephen Myler – the incumbent fly-halves. Leicester’s Freddie Burns also failed to make the cut, alongside Wasps winger Christian Wade. There are also some notable absentees through injury with Mako Vunipola, Alex Corbisiero, Dan Cole and Tom Youngs all missing out on front-row berths, while Leicester’s Manu Tuilagi’s fitness will be assessed on a week by week basis.
Pressure on strong squad to impress as countdown to World Cup continues
Lancaster has named a strong side in what will be his side’s biggest test before next autumn’s home world cup. Yes, they have the Six Nations next spring, but with New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Samoa visiting Twickenham on successive weeks, Lancaster’s men will have to have their wits about them. The one area they are missing real experience is in the front row with no fewer than four regular players missing. Chris Robshaw retains the captaincy, and he will have to guide a side who while no strangers to having their performance scrutinised, will have to deal with the added pressure of being the host nation at a World Cup. When England beat New Zealand in the Autumn fixtures two years ago, that was considered to be the catalyst for this England team but they have yet to get going and reach the heights that sides beating the two-time world champions should be accustomed to. Results are important as always but it will be the performances that set the tone for the World Cup next Autumn.
England Squad for the autumn internationals
Forwards: Joe Marler (Harlequins), Matt Mullan (Wasps), Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons), David Wilson (Bath), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Rob Webber (Bath), Dave Attwood (Bath), George Kruis (Saracens), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Calum Clark (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (Wasps), Ben Morgan (Gloucester), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, captain), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints).
Backs: Danny Care (Harlequins), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Bath), Stephen Myler (Northampton Saints), Brad Barritt (Saracens), Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints), Kyle Eastmond (Bath), Jonathan Joseph (Bath), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Alex Goode (Saracens), Jonny May (Gloucester), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Semesa Rokoduguni (Bath), Marland Yarde (Harlequins).