Stuart Lancaster has announced his squad for the Rugby World Cup, meaning that the final 31 men can now concentrate on their preparations for the tournament, which begins on 18th September. While the squad is generally the one that most people expected, there have been a couple of decisions that have raised eyebrows in some quarters.
Perhaps the biggest talking point is the inclusion of Sam Burgess, the former rugby league star who only entered the world of rugby union in November and made his England debut in August. He’s been selected as one of four centres in Stuart Lancaster’s squad, alongside Brad Barritt, Jonathan Joseph and Henry Slade. The news hasn’t been welcomed universally though, with former England captain Will Carling stating “I don’t believe he’s one of the four best centres in England.”
The fact that Burgess has been selected also caused another slight surprise: the omission of Luther Burrell. This was surprising as he has been a mainstay of Lancaster’s last two Six Nations squads and was expected to play at the World Cup. Other high-profile players missing out on a berth are Billy Twelvetrees, Nick Easter, Alex Corbisiero, Dave Attwood and Dylan Hartley, with the latter being left out due to concerns over his discipline.
Perhaps the biggest talking point of the selection though is that Danny Cipriani has been overlooked, with Owen Farrell and George Ford preferred instead. While it was always thought that this would be the case, Cipriani’s impressive performance against France – which saw him score a brilliant try almost immediately after being introduced – gave the player a glimmer of hope. His better attitude will have still impressed Lancaster though, and could bode well for the player’s international career after the World Cup.
The final talking point is the inclusion of Ben Morgan, who ordinarily would be a firm fixture in the squad. The fact that he has played just 40 minutes of international rugby since breaking his leg threw up some question marks though, however Stuart Lancaster has decided that he is still worth taking to the competition.
With the squad now finalised, England will go into their final warm up game against Ireland looking to build momentum before the tournament starts. They will then begin the tournament with an opening fixture against Fiji, before then also taking on Australia, Uruguay and Wales in the group stages. It’s a tough group, but the England squad will feel confident that they can progress…