Stuart Lancaster has named his squad for RWC2015 and the England media has immediately jumped on him. Most of the aggro is around not naming Danny Cipriani as a first-five, and naming rugby league import Sam Burgess in the centres.
If you had ever watched Cipriani playing for the Melbourne Rebels in the Super XV you would wonder how he was ever in contention. Fragile, wayward and poor discipline. Maybe he’s improved since going back north, but the Southern Hemisphere loose forwards would have been salivating at the prospect of reintroducing themselves.
Sam Burgess is a very fine athlete, and a great leader on the field who inspires others around him. It’s a huge ask for any player to switch codes, but there’s enough history to say that a really great player can do it. Over to you, Sam.
There are two striking things for me about the squad. First that there are no truly world-class top drawer players in any position. Most of them would be struggling to be third or fourth in the world for their position. It’s a hard road to win the Cup from that platform. Not impossible, just really bloody hard.
The second thing is the relative inexperience. There are 471 caps in the 17 forwards named: Richie McCaw and Keven Mealamu have half that amount between them. And the caps in the backs are even lower. That suggests that England have not been using the last four years very well.
Or as one wag put it, it looks like a good squad – for 2019.