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Testing Out Depth: Three England XVs For 2017

England coach Eddie Jones faces some tough selection challenges in 2017, with increasing depth in nearly all positions and a Lions tour that will see the Australian lose a number of his first choice players.

In an interview with former England coach Clive Woodward, Eddie Jones explained his plans for 2017 and how he intends to deal with the issue of losing key players to the Lions tour (via Daily Mail):

“The only part of 2017 I can really control is the Six Nations, all our focus is on that. Post-Six Nations we are going to lose 10 to 15 of our players to the Lions and maybe those players won’t play for us in November (Autumn Internationals) because they will have played probably twice the number of post-season games they will normally have played. We don’t have to rest them but speaking to a number of players who have been on Lions tours, they found those November matches to be the hardest — so I think we have to be smart about it. So, given that, I look on 2017 as a massive opportunity to increase the depth of the squad. We have the opportunity to produce great third and fourth-choice options. Our two Tests against a full-strength Pumas in Argentina will be very testing.

“If we can sit down in the last week of November and say we have got 45 guys who can play Test rugby at the level that will be required at the 2019 World Cup, then this year will have been an enormous year for us. And if we lose a few battles on the way, it will help us win the war.”

England v Wales - RBS Six Nations

With this in mind, we put together three possible XVs for 2017 in three crucial stages: a Six Nations side, a summer tour team and a line up to start the autumn internationals.

Six Nations XV

This is the likely team to start the Six Nations, with Mako Vunipola, Billy Vunipola and Chris Robshaw unlikely to be involved in England’s attempt to retain their Championship title.

Jonny May will be in contention for one of the wing spots and Dan Cole’s tighthead berth is under pressure from youngster Kyle Sinckler, but the vast majority of this team picks itself – a good position to be in two years out from a World Cup.

France v England - RBS Six Nations

1) Joe Marler

2) Dylan Hartley (c)

3) Dan Cole

4) Courtney Lawes/Joe Launchbury

5) George Kruis

6) Maro Itoje

7) James Haskell

8) Nathan Hughes

9) Ben Youngs

10) George Ford

11) Jack Nowell

12) Owen Farrell

13) Jonathan Joseph

14) Anthony Watson

15) Mike Brown

 

England v Argentina XV

With England likely to lose a number of stars to the Lions tour in the summer, we’ve put together a team based on the current EPS 45 man squad that could start in Argentina.

We have listed our most likely Lions tourists as: Mako Vunipola, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Chris Robshaw, James Haskell, Billy Vunipola, Ben Youngs, George Ford, Owen Farrell, Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson.

The two test series could also be a great opportunity to unearth new leaders, with Wasps captain Joe Launchbury captaining this side.

Moreover, Jones could well decide to give young Sale Sharks fullback Mike Haley a chance against the Pumas.

1) Joe Marler

2) Jamie George

3) Kyle Sinckler

4) Joe Launchbury (c)

5) Courtney Lawes

6) Mike Williams

7) Tom Wood

8) Nathan Hughes

9) Danny Care

10) Alex Lozowski

11) Jack Nowell

12) Ben Te’o

13) Elliot Daly

14) Jonny May

15) Mike Haley

 

England Autumn Internationals XV

Finally, Jones has talked of resting a number of star players for England’s autumn campaign in 2017. Some bigger names come back into our team because they have already had long injury lay offs previously and so not necessarily as tired as those who have been playing non-stop for several seasons.

One also has to hope that injury-blighted centre Manu Tuilagi can finally get himself back in an England shirt later in the year.

1) Joe Marler

2) Dylan Hartley (c)

3) Kyle Sinckler

4) Maro Itoje

5) George Kruis

6) Chris Robshaw

7) James Haskell

8) Billy Vunipola

9) Danny Care

10) Alex Lozowski

11) Jack Nowell

12) Manu Tuilagi

13) Elliot Daly

14) Anthony Watson

15) Mike Brown

Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena

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