The People’s Republic of Pundit Arena has chosen its team to play Australia this Saturday and there are some interesting selections indeed.
It seems every journalist and ex-player has their own take on the team that should confront the Wallabies this weekend, but we here at Pundit Arena wanted YOU, the fans, to be given your say.
So, who made the team based on your votes? Loyal citizens, here is your democratically chosen team:
The Pundit Arena Readers’ England XV
1) Mako Vunipola
Mako has absolutely wiped the floor with this one. Polling 88% of the votes, Mako’s landslide victory means Matt Mullan received only a 10% share. Ellis Genge – a left-field choice in the first place – received 2%.
2) Dylan Hartley
England captain Hartley was never likely to be dropped and his 83% vote share ahead of Jamie George on 15% and Luke Cowan-Dickie on 2% shows that he is currently a firm favourite of England supporters.
3) Dan Cole
Even though Paul Hill is an exciting player and Kyle Sinckler a genuine bolter, Dan Cole’s lead over his rivals in the fans’ eyes is resounding. Polling 80% of the vote compared to Hill on 11% and Sinckler on 9%, Cole is England’s first-choice by far.
4) Maro Itoje
Joe Launchbury’s recent form has led to some calls for him to start at lock, but Maro Itoje, who is having quite some season, picked up 79% of the vote in this instance.
5) George Kruis
With Itoje starting in the team, it was always unlikely that the Saracens second row partnership would be broken up, given the form the pair showed in England’s Grand Slam triumph. Therefore Kruis – with 89% of the vote – starts ahead of Northampton’s Courtney Lawes.
6) Chris Robshaw
Robshaw took an early lead in the polls but in the last few days Jack Clifford came back into supporters’ thoughts. However, the Harlequins blindside won the poll with 38% of fans wanting him to start at 6, with Clifford on 25%, Harrison on 19% and Haskell on 18%.
7) Jack Clifford
Despite winning a Grand Slam at openside, James Haskell drops down into third place in the poll for the number 7 shirt. Jack Clifford is the fans’ clear favourite to start at 7, polling 53% of the vote, with Teimana Harrison in third place on 21%. Chris Robshaw – England’s openside virtually all of the Stuart Lancaster era – is last on 9%.
8) Billy Vunipola
Jack Clifford started England’s victory over Wales in the Old Mutual Wealth Cup and scored a scintillating, yet controversial try in the process. However, the physical monstrosity that is Billy Vunipola polled 99% of the vote, with James Haskell taking 1%.
9) Danny Care
It seems fans are pretty clear over the debate regarding the scrum-half position. Danny Care stole the show with 68% of the vote share, with Leicester’s Ben Youngs taking 32%.
10) Owen Farrell
It seems George Ford’s days as an England number 10 are currently numbered, according to the fans. Saracens’ Owen Farrell polled a whopping 91% of the votes to take the fly-half jersey from his Bath rival.
11) Jack Nowell
For the left wing position, Exeter’s Nowell narrowly defeated Anthony Watson 47% to 45%, with Marland Yarde receiving only 8% of the votes. England supporters will therefore be disappointed to see Yarde named in England’s XV.
12) Henry Slade
Ben Te’o has been receiving some serious press coverage after rumours surfaced of the former rugby league player’s apparent promotion to the starting XV despite some pretty inconsistent form for Leinster. Yet the fans have spoken and chosen Exeter’s Henry Slade with a colossal 64% of the vote, with Northampton’s Luther Burrell in second on 17%. Although he started all of England’s Six Nations games at 12, Farrell is preferred at 10 this time around. Ben Te’o received only 6% of the vote share.
13) Jonathan Joseph
To begin with it was neck-and-neck between Bath’s Jonathan Joseph and Wasps’ Elliot Daly, but the former soon accelerated away from his nearest rival, receiving 59% of the vote compared to 32%. Henry Slade – although a regular starter for Exeter at 13 – received only 8% of the votes.
14) Anthony Watson
Marland Yarde was nowhere to be seen once again, receiving only 5% of the votes. Nowell picked up 45% of the vote share, but Watson pipped him to the post, gaining 50%.
15) Alex Goode
Premiership Player of the Season Alex Goode has thwarted Mike Brown in the poll, despite the Harlequins full back being first-choice in the shirt all season so far. Goode took 69% of the votes, making him the clear favourite in the majority of fans’ eyes. However, Goode does not even make the 23 for Eddie Jones’ team this weekend.
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena