Rugby Union

The XV England should have picked to face Uruguay

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With the hosts knocked out of their own World Cup before the quarter-finals, England must display their talent for the future in Saturday’s dead rubber against Uruguay.

15. Alex Goode
The Saracen’s full-back is yet to appear in this World Cup and should be given a run on Saturday. Times columnist Stephen Jones is among his admirers and continues to preach Goode’s case due to his abilities as a playmaker and first receiver.

14. Anthony Watson
Amidst the trauma of Saturday’s defeat, the Bath winger actually performed well; scoring a try and as always posing a threat. Watson will be a key player for England in the next four years though his future may well be at full-back.


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13. Jonathan Joseph
Providing he is fit, Joseph should be given the nod again in the midfield. Still only 24, the Bath centre will also be key in future plans and has the ability to create opportunities out of nothing; could also be lethal with a distributor at 12, rather than Brad Barritt.

12. Henry Slade
Selected for the 31 man squad after just one international appearance, Slade really should have been picked for the Wales game after JJ’s injury. A prodigious talent, the Exeter player has the ability to play right across the back line though inside-centre may well suit his skills as a distributor and left-foot kicking option.

11. Jack Nowell
His omission from the bench on Saturday in favour of Sam Burgess was the latest in a series of selection gaffes of late. Nowell, as a strong runner and excellent finisher has a very promising future with England.

10. George Ford
Simply has to be selected at 10 henceforth. Ford is a fantastic talent who ignited England’s back division during this year’s Six Nations. His distributive and visionary skills mean the Bath stand-off must be the central figure in England’s plans as they prepare for Japan 2019. If Owen Farrell is to start for England in the future, it must be at 12.

9. Danny Care
Overlooked in the tournament so far due to Richard Wigglesworth’s superior kicking game, Care has the chance here to remind everyone of his talent. Still England’s most dangerous scrum-half, the Harlequins captain will be a huge threat on Saturday.

8. Nick Easter
This World Cup has come too soon for Ben Morgan recovering from a broken leg, sustained in January, thus Easter must be given one last hurrah. The Harlequins forward has enjoyed an impressive career and deserves to go out on a high.

7. James Haskell
This may well be the last time the Wasps’ skipper gets to pull on an England shirt. At 30-years-old, Haskell is unlikely to figure in England’s future plans as they aim to identify a conventional open-side flanker.

6. Sam Burgess
This won’t happen as it would be effectively admitting an almighty mistake but, this is where Burgess’s future must lie. Chris Robshaw has been chosen, in what could be his last appearance as captain.

5. Joe Launchbury
As I had hoped, the Wasps’ lock reinforced his class last Saturday with an outstanding display. With his mobility, handling skills and ability at the breakdown, Launchbury has world-class potential and is a strong candidate to be the next England captain.

4. George Kruis
The Saracen’s lock will have his work cut out in the future with Maro Itoje’s emergence but is still a promising player. With his superior mobility and work-rate Kruis was given the nod over Dave Atwood, and should use Saturday’s game to justify this selection.

3. Kieran Brookes

I expect the tighthead prop’s career to accelerate from now, after his move to Northampton Saints. Brookes is a force to be reckoned with in the loose and with Dan Cole seemingly not as dominant as he was, the door is open for the 25-year-old.

2. Jamie George
The beneficiary of Dylan Hartley’s indiscipline, George is a hooker with huge potential. I doubt for all his work in the loose, Tom Youngs’ technical deficiencies will be tolerated for much longer, and as an accomplished thrower George could figure strongly from now on.

1. Mako Vunipola
Limited so far to cameos off the bench the elder of the Vunipola brothers should be given the nod from the start on Saturday. As a dangerous runner in the loose and increasingly reliable scrummager, the Saracens man will be putting pressure on Joe Marler next season.

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