Phil Clarke picks his England team to face the Exiles
Phil Clarke selects his England team to face the Exiles but is battling to choose a left centre.
Last Updated: 06/06/13 12:37pm
It's never an easy task, and I suppose there's no right or wrong, but I'm looking for your help now.
We've got just over a week before England coach Steve McNamara has to pick a team to play against the Exiles in what will be his first chance to look at the players that might make up his Dream Team. It won't be the team that he plays in the opening game of the World Cup; I'd guess that some of the players that are eligible Down Under will make it into the side for that.
It's also possible that players like Gareth Hock, Tom Briscoe and Jon Wilkin will play that well in the last 10 Super League games of the season that they'll force their way back into contention.
There are some other players who are unavailable at present due to injury like Michael McIllorum, Danny Tickle, Danny McGuire and Kallum Watkins. It's hopeful that some of these guys will be fit by then, but it's also highly likely that others will be injured.
McNamara has 20 players in his squad for next Friday's game at Warrington and I'd guess that it will be a highly motivated performance from players wanting to book a place in this year's World Cup side. We've got good competition for places, which is the ideal scenario, but we don't have much 'game time' for those players to become a team.
For that reason, I'd imagine that McNamara wants to put a side as close as possible to the one that he believes can win the World Cup. The four key positions of fullback, stand-off, scrum-half and hooker need time together and the ones picked for this game would be the favourites for later in the year. From the list of 20 players available, this would be my team:
1. Sam Tomkins
2. Josh Charnley
3. Leroy Cudjoe
5. Ryan Hall
6. Kevin Sinfield
7. Rangi Chase
8. Lee Mossop
9. James Roby
10. Chris Hill
11. Liam Farrell
12. Gareth Ellis
13. Sean O'Loughlin
14. Rob Burrow
15. Eorl Crabtree
16. Jamie Jones-Buchanan
17. Ben Westwood.
I'm stuck with the left centre. Brett Ferres has just played two games recently as a centre, but most of his time this year he has been as a second row. Is there any difference? Well I think that there is at international level. Zak Hardaker is the other option, but he plays as a full back now and was a winger when he played at Featherstone.
Continuity the key
I've left out Morley as one of the props - Hill and Mossop are my two favourites, and I like the way that Big Eorl has played this season. Richard Myler didn't make my team because I'm a believer in continuity and think that Sinfield and Chase need to play together as much as possible to increase the team's chance of winning. They have been the ones that Steve has selected over the last couple of years. I know that both Roby and Ellis haven't played much recently, and might not be in the best form or condition, but I think that it's 'game time' that these players need, more than winning. Don't get me wrong, winning is the currency of professional sport, but for me we need these players to become a Team, and that's hard to do if they don't play together.
I am fascinated to know why Danny Brough didn't make the Elite Training Squad earlier in the season; he offers competition for places in the half backs. It's quite possible that Sinfield or Chase might be injured at the end of the season, and Brough would've been a great replacement, even if you hadn't picked him ahead of the other two already.
So, assuming that everyone is fit and available at the end of the year, who would you select for England's opening game?