England vs New Zealand: Bryan Habana, Sean Fitzpatrick and Stuart Barnes on what team changes Eddie Jones should make

Each day this week we will be asking our pundits to weigh in on a question of the day, and Tuesday’s discussion is about what changes each would make to the England team for Saturday’s Test against New Zealand, live on Sky Sports.

Bryan Habana and Sean Fitzpatrick will be joining some familiar faces in studio this weekend, while Stuart Barnes will once again be calling the game along with Miles Harrison from up in the gantry.

Ahead of England’s second Quilter International, in which they welcome the best team in the world to Twickenham, we ask each of the pundits to weigh in on Eddie Jones’ team selection.


England vs New Zealand

November 10, 2018, 2:00pm

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Sean Fitzpatrick says…

“I would probably leave the backline as it is – they need game time. I would bring Manu Tuilagi onto the bench if he is fit and also leave George Ford there too. That way you have some options.

“In the forwards, I might look at bringing Courtney Lawes in and play either him or Maro Itoje at No 6. Jones has tended to do that as it beefs up that loose-forward trio. That would give them more lineout options which is what you need against the All Blacks.

“If you are going to struggle come scrum time then you definitely need to apply pressure at the lineout. To have another option is good for your attacking lineout and for you defensively as well.”

Bryan Habana says…

“Given the result and the fight the England side showed to stay in the game in the first half, I don’t think Eddie will risk going with anyone else. Obviously Tom Curry is out injured, so deciding who comes in for Curry will be quite interesting.

“Jones had a great start to his tenure, and that was largely down to him being able to select a fairly settled side. At the moment he won’t just be thinking about doing well in November, he is looking to build towards a World Cup next year as well.

“I think England’s starting XV will take a lot out of the way they hung in under immense pressure at the start of the Test match against the Boks, and being able to give those guys the confidence of Eddie’s belief in them will go a long way.

“It’s a tough one in terms of Manu Tuilagi. He will bring something a bit different if he plays, his power and ability to take the ball into contact can cause serious problems for the opposition.

“However, in saying that, Chris Ashton would rightly feel a bit unlucky to miss out, as he played well against South Africa and is a prolific try-scorer in his own right. It will be a big call for Jones no matter which way he goes with it.”

Stuart Barnes says…

“I would change the batting order of both props. I think Kyle Sinckler and Alec Hepburn are more effective off the bench.

“Ben Moon is Exeter’s regular starter and so should start with Hepburn coming on. And I think Harry Williams is probably a slightly stronger scrummager than Sinckler and against New Zealand that’s important.

“With Tom Curry now out, I’d be tempted to play Zach Mercer at openside. Sam Underhill is a possibility, and I think against New Zealand you need somebody who has a bit of pace and mobility as well.

“I’d look at playing Mercer at 7 – he had a big impact last week and can cover across the board. I understand that’s a fairly risky call as he plays 8 and 6 more, but I think he’s a very good player and I’d gamble with him over Underhill.

“England experimented with their midfield against South Africa, and you can’t just experiment for one game and then change it, so whether you think it’s right or not, you stay the same there.

“And then the biggest call is whether to stick with Elliot Daly – who I think has struggled at full-back internationally – or revert back to the obvious option against New Zealand – who would have watched what happened kicking wise – in Mike Brown.

“If that happens, Daly stays in the team so you probably lose Jack Nowell. On the balance of it all, you come back to the fact that Daly has class and hope that it’s going to come right at full-back, but it’s a bit more hope than expectation. He’s not gone well there so far.

“In the end, I’ll stick with him but with concerns.”

#Followtherose this autumn with all of England’s Tests live on Sky Sports throughout November. The action continues on Saturday against New Zealand before clashes against Japan and Australia


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