England v Wales: No place for Welsh colossus in combined XV


He may be an icon of Welsh rugby and returned to the side to face England in the most hotly anticipated match of the Rugby World Cup to date, but there is no place for George North in the Ladbrokes News combined XV.

All eyes turn to Twickenham on Saturday evening where a crucial advantage in Pool A will be the glittering prize for the joint hosts of the 2015 World Cup.

And following the announcement of both starting XVs, the two teams have been merged to pick the cream of the crop for each position and it will surprise many a Welshman and a fair few Englishmen that there is no place for British and Irish Lions winger North.


Despite the strapping Northampton Saint earning a recall for the stellar clash, his international form has dipped since he suffered a series of concussions in 2015, including the last time these home nations collided in their Six Nations opener.

While North has understandably struggled to hit his stampeding best in red this year, his opposite number Anthony Watson has burst onto the international scene in 2015, notching two tries in the Six Nations before adding three more over warm-up games against France and Ireland.

In general England’s backs are preferred to the Welsh here, although the hugely experienced midfield pairing of Scott Williams and Jamie Roberts break up the monopoly ahead of Stuart Lancaster’s Brad Barrit/Sam Burgess gamble.

There will certainly be scope for Welsh joy at the breakdown and the scrum to counteract this attacking dominance judging by our selections though, with England skipper Chris Robshaw another notable absentee in the back row.

Locked as they are on a maximum haul of five points from their respective opening fixtures of the tournament, something must give at Twickenham.

Clearly home advantage has a big bearing on the match odds, where Ladbrokes make the Red Rose 3/10 favourites, ahead of Warren Gatland’s men at 11/4.

It’s a little difficult to judge exactly where the two sides are after England’s nervy opening win over a dangerous Fiji outfit and Wales strolled to a rudimentary cricket score over Uruguay – but that hasn’t stopped the News team making some big calls.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.