Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Squad Switcheroo

So it's time for the obligatory squad shake-ups before the next round of autumn international test matches. 

Whilst the Scotland team that will face Australia is unchanged from the side that got the better of Fiji in a dour encounter last weekend, Martin Johnson is getting good use of the revolving door that he had especially fitted in the home changing room at Twickenham prior to the start of this test series. 

Across the Irish sea there are a few changes in the Ireland starting fifteen, and over in Cardiff, the Wales side that narrowly lost to New Zealand is fully reformed like a slab of Spam after a week's break - well, with one new ingredient, and hopefully a little bit more meat than they showed against Samoa.

So who's in and who's out?


Simon Shaw (lock), Mathew Tait (full back/wing/centre)

Andy Goode (part time fly-half/full time hair model), Courtney Lawes (lock)

Ben Foden (full back), Jordan Crane (number 8), George Chuter (hooker), Steffon Armitage (flanker), Ben Kay (lock), Paul Sackey (wing), Richard Wigglesworth (scrum half), David Flatman (prop)

Andy Goode is going back to Brive.  See ya.
Monye hasn't been released, so is he going to switch to the wing so that either Cueto or Tait can start at full back?  With Steve Borthwick stubbornly clutching on to the captaincy and therefore guaranteeing his place in the side, it looks like Lions hero, man-mountain and the old experienced hands of Simon Shaw might push Louis Deacon on to the bench, which can only be a good thing.

All will be revealed at 12pm GMT tomorrow...


Jonny Sexton (fly-half), Eoin Reddan (scrum half), Gordon D'Arcy (centre), Keith Earls (wing), Shane Horgan (wing), Tom Court (loosehead), Leo Cullen (lock), Denis Leamy (flanker)
New Replacements: Sean Cronin (hooker), Sean O'Brian (flanker).

Tommy Bowe (wing), Ronan O'Gara (fly-half), Luke Fitzgerald (wing, injured), David Wallace (flanker), Cian Healy (loosehead, injured)

Hurrah!  The pretender to the O'Gara throne, Leinster's young gun Jonny Sexton is winning his first cap for Ireland.  I like Jonny Sexton a lot.  Last year he demonstrated a cool presence on the pitch in the pressurized environment of the Heineken Cup after playing second fiddle to Felipe Contepomi for such a long time, and he has shown the world that he has a calm head on his young shoulders.  Also, I like him because he looks quite sweet and a bit like an oversized toddler.  Bless.

Mansize toddler: Jonny Sexton (on the left)

Along with Jonny, the two Seans on the bench are also uncapped with Declan Kidney keen to give a few more young guns a shot against Fiji at Dublin's RDS.


Jonathan Davies (centre), Shane Williams (wing), Matthew Rees (hooker), Stephen Jones (fly-half), Martyn Williams (flanker), Gareth Cooper (scrum half),
New replacements: Andrew Bishop (centre), Dan Lydiate (flanker)

Tom Shanklin (centre, injured), Martin Roberts (scrum half), Dan Biggar (fly-half), Dan Warburton (flanker),

Big news for Wales is that Jonathan Davies is BACK.

Soft focus really takes off the years

No, not that Jonathan Davies. 

21 year old Jonathan Davies plays in the centre (for the Scarlets) and not at fly-half like his legendary bouffant-haired namesake.  This weekend the new Jonathan Davies will make his first start at the Millennium stadium after impressing when he replaced injured Tom Shanklin off the bench in the game against Samoa last weekend.




Nice bit of consistency there Mr Robinson.  Good luck against Australia though.

Any excuse to include a picture of curly-haired Scotland captain, Chris Cusiter

What do I think?

It's good to see that Wales and Ireland are willing to give some of their hot up and coming talent some time on the pitch - unlike England. 

As much as I welcome the return of Simon Shaw and Mathew Tait into the England squad I'm still disappointed that Lawes and Foden have both been sent back to Northampton.  What was the point in hyping up Lawes so much if it was only in the mythical (and possibly non-existent) game plan for him to play approximately ten seconds of rugby in the two games where he was selected? 

With Monye hopefully not being allowed to continue pleasuring us with his erratic displays at full back and being switched to the wing (where he can ably demonstrate his sole skill of running fast in a straight line), Tait can step in to add some composure and threat from deep and Banahan can be relegated to the bench where he can hone his sprinting skills and try to out run an IKEA wardrobe for the first time in his life.

My predictions for this weekend?

New Zealand to beat England by 30 points.  At least.
Ireland to beat Fiji by 20 points.
Wales to beat Argentina by 10 points.
Australia to beat Scotland by about 1000 points.

Place your bets.


  1. Love your blogs. A wise head and beauty to match


  2. Thank you - I assume you're not being sarcastic!
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