David Flatman: My England team to take on world in 2015

From the Front Row: The next red-rose coach will have some big choices to make when he names his first squad. To help the poor blighter out, there is a link to my ideal XV below

As the soap opera continues apace at HQ, rugby marches on. The Premiership is back at full flow and the Heineken Cup didn't even flinch when its time in the spotlight arrived. It is safe to assume that, given time, English rugby will get itself back on track too.

Click here to see my ideal XV

To lighten the mood, though, let's look to the future, a good place to find solace. When a new boss – temporary or permanent – arrives, he will be given a date to name his first England squad. I probably ought to call this an "elite player group", or something similarly new age, but for fear of wretching, I shan't. And never has a list of names been so significant in our national game.

This is a system in crisis, so the easiest way to approach this crucial first selection would be to avoid risk by copying and pasting the last squad on to a fresh press release. But this would be to miss a trick. As we have seen, World Cups are where it's at; yes, the Six Nations is huge and the autumn internationals provide welcome Test exposure for all involved, not to mention a welcome lump of income for the Rugby Football Union. But ask any player, official or supporter what he wants to win, and it's always the same answer: the World Cup.

So, with that in mind – and four years just isn't that long when you're starting almost from scratch – I really hope the next squad is young and bold. This certainly doesn't mean that anyone over 30 must be discarded. Far from it. In fact, I think that all the best squads have a decent, healthy mixture of youth and experience. The older, wiser player lends so much to a team environment. Firstly, he knows the game, having been there and done it time and again. The right ones also act as a reassuring and inspiring presence when the blood and teeth are flying. They become that pair of shoulders towards which the younger men look when self-doubt creeps in, and they are essential.

However, there is nothing like a few new faces to shake the old boys up a bit. Creating competition for places instantly tells you so much about the men in the room. Some relish the fight, others seem so confident that they hardly notice. And, inevitably, there are always some who hate it and want out, though at international level I'd be very surprised to find many of those.

The England front row now has a couple of holes in it. Quite big ones, too, seeing as they have been left by Andrew Sheridan and Steve Thompson. Sheridan, we assume, will be back, but for the meantime I would have the Harlequin Joe Marler in there alongside Alex Corbisiero at loosehead. Corbisiero has proved himself and while I'm not necessarily keen on the red Mohawk as a hairdo of choice for a prop (read: jealous), I like Marler's athleticism and power and think he looks a real prospect.

In the vacant hooker birth – now Thompson has announced his retirement – I would consider Rob Webber of Wasps. There are a few who could step up but Webber has just a little more grit and power than the others at the moment. He is an underrated player.

Simon Shaw will step out and make room for Dave Attwood in the second row. Attwood is my team-mate at Bath so I won't go too far in extolling his virtues, for fear of ridicule tomorrow morning. Suffice to say he's young, big, skilful and English. He is a ready-made proposition for the 2015 World Cup.

The midfield will be very interesting indeed. Toby Flood is still our best fly-half so Owen Farrell has to play 12. Outside him must sit Manu Tuilagi.Hopefully Mike Tindall will stay there or thereabouts for the next couple of seasons because what he can teach Tuilagi about the complexities of the role at international level is beyond the knowledge of any coach. He might give a monstrous brute specimen an all-round game. What a thought.

At full-back, I don't know how much longer Mike Brown of Harlequins can be ignored. Admittedly, he is vying for a spot with two of England's better players, Ben Foden and Delon Armitage, but his game has been close to flawless for a long time now. Maybe he, with some of his contemporaries, will soon get his shot.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
News
Sir Chris Hoy won six Olympic golds - in which four events?
news
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform