[ELITE PLAYER SQUAD as announced 11th Jan 2012 at bottom of post]
The countdown to the 2015 World Cup in England officially started this week and with England set to name their 32-man Elite Player Squad (EPS) on Wednesday, I believe the host nation are in great shape.
New Zealand was disappointing for everyone from players to fans and lessons will have been learned.
But, looking ahead, there are so many quality young kids in England at the minute that you have to compare us to a New Zealand or an Australia in terms of raw talent.
If we were one of those countries now, we would throw loads of young kids in the EPS and stick with them over the next four years.
As well as the abundance of talent out there in the Aviva Premiership that is yet to win a cap, the likes of Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes, Ben Foden, Ben Youngs and Tom Croft are still only young themselves, even though they have been around for a long while now.
Expect them all to provide the heart of the new team.
Add to that batch of players the likes of Owen Farrell, Charlie Sharples, Henry Trinder and Brad Barritt and you have a great nucleus of players for the next four years that could give us a real chance of winning the thing.
There is the making of an excellent team there but also one that is very exciting and one that will hopefully play in a way that will attract people to the game and make them proud to support England.
For the interim coaching staff of Stuart Lancaster, Andy Farrell and my old Leicester Tigers team mate, Graham Rowntree, they have nothing to lose.
Everyone wants them to pick an exciting brand of young players and I imagine that is just what they will do.
It would be fascinating to know what their remit is from the Rugby Union (RFU).
Have they have been told that they can have the England job on a full-time basis if they do well?
If so, they may be more cautious with their team selection than if they know someone else, like a Nick Mallett is coming in after the Six Nations.
I remember Martin Johnson picked lots of young players early on in his reign before selecting some older players with more experience after a few dodgy results.
It’s a tough blend for a coach and we will know what direction the new coaching team will want to go on Wednesday afternoon.
MY THREE TIPS FOR THE EPS: 1) Henry Trinder (Gloucester) – the boy has serious wheels. 2) Owen Farrell (Saracens) – he has stepped up well. 3) Luke Narraway (Gloucester) – he is going well this season and carries the ball well.
EPS Announced 11th Jan 2012:
Forwards: Mouritz Botha, Calum Clark, Alex Corbisiero, Dan Cole, Tom Croft, Louis Deacon, Phil Dowson, Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes, Joe Marler, Lee Mears, Ben Morgan, Tom Palmer, Chris Robshaw, Matt Stevens, Rob Webber, David Wilson, Tom Wood
Backs: Chris Ashton, Brad Barritt, Mike Brown, Lee Dickson, Owen Farrell, Toby Flood, Ben Foden, Charlie Hodgson, Joe Simpson, Charlie Sharples, David Strettle, Manusamoa Tuilagi, Jordan Turner-Hall, Ben Youngs
Is Andy Goode right about the future of England, and who should be in the EPS? Who would you put in? Add a comment or contact us.
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