By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 25/05/18 7:03pm
England will face a star-studded Barbarians side in the Quilter Cup at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday live on Sky Sports Action.
Chris Robshaw and George Ford will co-captain England while the prestigious invitational side will be led by Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe.
As was the case last year, Eddie Jones’ outfit is a much-changed one to the side that performed in the Six Nations Championship and despite the changes in personnel, the Australian is keen to see areas of progression.
“We’ve been practising a number of key areas of the game that we felt after the Six Nations that we need to work on – our efficiency at the set-piece, our efficiency at the breakdown, developing more creative threats in our attack and being smarter in defence,” highlighted England’s head coach.
“We’ve worked really hard on those four things and we’re hoping to see that come out in the right way against the Barbarians.”
Jones and his players are well aware that this period of time presents a challenge. It’s a challenge that is unique to any other in the professional rugby calendar.
Video analysis of Pat Lam’s Barbarians playing as a group is non-existent and little, if anything, will be known about their planned structures or the eye-catching moves that are synonymous with Barbarians.
“It’s always a bit more difficult [preparing]. You have to expect the unexpected,” added Jones.
“We don’t know exactly how they’re going to play. We’re in the same position, we have a lot of new players in the squad. It’s one of those interesting games were neither side knows much about the other.”
England vs Barbarians
May 27, 2018, 2:30pm
As a result of the Aviva Premiership final occurring on Saturday, England’s head coach has the opportunity to shift selections in some areas including handing Elliot Daly a start at full-back, something he’s been looking to do for a while.
Piers Francis and Henry Trinder are tasked with impressing in the midfield while many eyes will be on replacement Danny Cipriani.
Whether Cipriani enters the arena at fly-half or full-back will be something that Jones “decides on game day” and the 30-year-old, who last played for England in 2015, will be hoping for a prolonged period on the park to impress.
The Barbarians’ backline boasts a whole host electric individuals and individuals that can create something out of nothing like Chris Ashton, Josua Tuisova, Semi Radradra and Finn Russell.
This week Ashton has been very open about the fact that he’s relishing the opportunity of returning to the home of English rugby and, having broken the TOP14 try-scoring record in his first season at Toulon, is going into this match in form.
Barbarians’ head coach for this week, Lam, takes immense pride in coaching the side, as do the players at being asked to be a part of the tradition.
“The Barbarians is about the whole ethos of rugby,” said Lam.
“Rugby is the greatest team game and everything that you want to achieve really comes back to your teammates, how well you know your teammates and building relationships.”
The teammates in the back-row will be Fernandez Lobbe, Rugby World Cup winner Victor Vito and British & Irish Lions flanker Justin Tipuric. A more athletic trio you’d be hard pressed to find in Test rugby right now.
With the set piece sometimes being a weakness of the Barbarians, it will be up to Denis Buckley, Benjamin Kayser and John Afoa to stamp their authority in the front row with Ultan Dillane and Sateleki Timani doing their bit from the engine room.
Last year a young English side produced an impressive performance to see off the Barbarian challenge.
Ford kicked three penalties and two conversions with Nathan Earle, Nick Isiekwe and Danny Care delivering England’s tries.
As is always the case with this fixture, predicting how it will pan out with one hundred percent accuracy is a challenge for everyone.
England will be looking to exploit the weaknesses that arrive as a result of the Barbarians having such a short amount of preparation time, while Lam’s outfit will wanting to to break up the structure, whip the crowd into a frenzy and fly.
With the quality of the individuals selected, and the desire of players across both sides to make their mark, there’s every chance that we’re in for a real treat on Sunday afternoon.
England: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Jonny May, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Mike Brown, 10 George Ford (c), 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Joe Marler, 2 Jack Singleton, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 Elliott Stooke, 5 Joe Launchbury, 6 Chris Robshaw (c), 7 Tom Curry, 8 Zach Mercer.
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan,17 Ellis Genge, 18 Nick Schonert, 19 Josh Beaumont, 20 Mark Wilson, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Denny Solomona.
Barbarians: 15 Chris Ashton, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Niyi Adeolokun, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Rhodri Williams, 1 Denis Buckley, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 3 John Afoa, 4 Ultan Dillane, 5 Sateleki Timani, 6 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (c), 7 Justin Tipuric, 8 Victor Vito.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Loni Uhila, 18 Ramiro Herrera, 19 Joe Tekori, 20 Nili Latu, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Luke McAlister, 23 Malakai Fekitoa.
Share if you enjoyed this post!