Thursday, 12 November 2009

Don't Cry for Me, Argentina

Although I'm crying in despair at some of the selections that Martin Johnson has made for the England squad to face the Pumas this weekend.

There are several changes to the England team this week from the line up that played Australia last Saturday, but none of these changes involve sending Andy Goode trotting back to Brive with a suitcase rammed full of Timotei to be replaced by Northampton's rising star Ben Foden.

This has annoyed me, mainly because England need a proper full back.  Ugo Monye didn't look comfortable last week and he never plays at full back for Harlequins. Ben Foden on the other hand had a storming game for Northampton in the LV= Cup last weekend.  Why can't he come in to replace Andy Goode?  Goode isn't going to shift Wilkinson from the starting fifteen and he doesn't have Wilko's multi-facted game, so why is he even included in the sqaud?  Why Johnno, why?

Goode (left) or Foden (right):  No contest?

Elsewhere, desperate to inject some dynamism into the squad, Martin Johnson has selected James Haskell who starts at number eight instead of Jordan Crane.  Crane was solid but didn't assert himself against Australia, and it will be interesting to see if the hyped-up Haskell can bring his much talked about skill and athleticism to the number eight spot having not played there yet this season for Stade Francais.  Joe Worsley is named as a replacement and pushes Crane out of the squad altogether, which is a bit mean on Jordan but I don't mind it so much due to Worsley's versatility.  And the fact that he is affectionately called 'Melon Head' by his team-mates.

Worsley is back

Dylan Hartley replaces Steve Thompson as the starting hooker.  Excellent.  Thompson was OK against Australia but OK isn't really good enough.  Time to give the grunt, pace and ball carrying skills of Hartley a shot.

Duncan Bell is promoted to the first fifteen instead of injured David Wilson which means there's space for Haskell's old buddy Paul Doran-Jones on the bench.  Who?  Exactly.  After a quick Google search I discovered that he is most famous for getting himself and James Haskell suspended from the very expensive private school they attended for filming a "sex romp" between Paul D-J and his then girlfriend.  How very Paris Hilton.  Hopefully he will have worked out his best angle if he gets a run out on Saturday.

Paul Doran-Jones:  Accrington Stanley meets Paris Hilton
Who is he?  Exactly.

Finally, London Irish's Paul Hodgson gets a start over the lovely Danny Care at scrum-half after having a great start to the season.  Don't worry though Danny, you're still my favourite, and it's not your fault that you couldn't get any quick ball last Saturday.

Therefore, despite Martin Johnson's search for a more dynamic England, Andy Goode stays, Monye is still masquerading as a makeshift full-back, Deacon and Borthwick are both starting and Johnson is persisting with Banahan.

Why oh why oh why?

Come on Johnno, I think you can do better than that:
Foden in; Monye to replace Banahan on the wing; Goode out; Lawes to start in place of Deacon.  Simples.

Instead, here's the team that will start against Argentina on Saturday:
England: Monye; Cueto, Hipkiss, Geraghty, Banahan; Wilkinson, Hodgson; Payne, Hartley, Bell, Deacon, Borthwick (capt), Croft, Moody, Haskell.
Replacements: Thompson, Doran-Jones, Lawes, Worsley, Care, Goode, Erinle.

How England's makeshift pack will fare against the grunt of the massive Argentinians might make painful viewing. Lest we forget that England are currently below Argentina in the World rankings - oh the shame.

Good luck boys.  Hopefully you won't need it.

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