There was no shame in losing 24-21 to world champions New Zealand last weekend, a result and performance that showed just how far England have come under Stuart Lancaster.
England showed glimpses of their potential against the world’s best team but Lancaster knows his side can improve and must show more, especially going forward, if they are to get back on track in the build up to the World Cup when South Africa visit Twickenham.
Chris Robshaw’s side, who are 7/2 for World Cup glory next year, are the 4/5 favourites with Ladbrokes to beat the Springboks with the visitors at evens to inflict back-to-back home defeats on England.
The home side will be in no mood to suffer at HQ again and Oliver Yew is here to name the men he thinks can light up England’s back division and propel the northern hemisphere side to victory…
9. Danny Care – Harlequins
It’s fair to say that Care’s performance against New Zealand wasn’t one of his best in an England shirt but he still showed his qualities when England were on the front foot. The scrum-half is always a danger to any defence around the fringes and if England can win the crunch physical battle against the Boks, then Care will shine. Ben Youngs is waiting in the wings if Care is not up to the task.
10. Owen Farrell – Saracens
There’s been plenty of talk about the Saracens star moving inside to the centres with England’s World Cup winning coach Clive Woodward wanting George Ford in the fly-half role. While England have not ruled this out with – Mike Catt has hinted at the possibility of it happening in the future – a Test match against South Africa is not the place to test it out so the battle-hardened Farrell keeps his place in the starting XV.
11. Jonny May – Gloucester
The Gloucester star put in his best performance to date in an England shirt, starting with his international try after just three minutes. This blistering solo effort showed exactly why Lancaster has stayed loyal to the 24-year-old and both the player and the coach will be hoping for more of the same against South Africa.
12. Kyle Eastmond – Bath
The Bath centre has overcome his illness and is ready to face up to the challenge of the Springboks. Eastmond was strong in defence up against Sonny Bill Williams and the All Blacks last weekend but we did not see much of the 25-year-old going forward. England will be hoping they can use his dazzling skills going forward much more this time around.
13. Jonathan Joseph – Bath
While Brad Barritt’s defensive prowess will be missed it’s fair to say he is not a natural outside centre. The Saracens man lacked the attacking threat expected of a 13 and that’s why Jonathan Joseph comes into our side to strike up his club partnership with Eastmond. The Bath man’s pace, power and understanding with Eastmond would give South Africa plenty to think about.
14. Marland Yarde – Harlequins
The speedster comes straight into the starting XV for the injured Semesa Rokoduguni. With four tries to his name in just five England appearances the Harlequins man certainly knows his way to the try line but England must first get him the ball, something they failed to do for Rokoduguni against the All Blacks.
15. Mike Brown – Harlequins
The Harlequins full-back was solid against New Zealand but needs to find his attacking spark if he is to keep his place in the side beyond the South Africa game. He was his dependable self under the high ball and keeps his place for now but needs to find a cutting edge going forward with Anthony Watson breathing down his neck.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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