England's world class pack will give Lancaster a welcome headache

By Ben Kay

If Stuart Lancaster was picking his 2015 Rugby World Cup pack today, a fit Tom Croft would give him a headache of the right kind.

In a perfect world, Lancaster would be looking at a pack made up of front-rowers Alex Corbisiero, Dylan Hartley and Dan Cole supported by impressive locks Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury.

His selection problem starts in the back row, where he would have to choose at blindside between the speed of Croft against the workrate of Tom Wood.

Strength in depth: Tom Croft (right) could give England coach Stuart Lancaster (middle) a decision to make

Strength in depth: Tom Croft (right) could give England coach Stuart Lancaster (middle) a decision to make

Must pick: Alex Corbisiero would be part of a first-choice front-row alongside Dylan Hartley and Dan Cole

Must pick: Alex Corbisiero would be part of a first-choice front-row alongside Dylan Hartley and Dan Cole

Excellence: Alongside Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes is one of the form locks in world rugby

Excellence: Alongside Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes is one of the form locks in world rugby

Reliable: Billy Vunipola has performed well for England, including a try in the victory over Italy in Rome

Reliable: Billy Vunipola has performed well for England, including a try in the victory over Italy in Rome

 

Lancaster could move Wood to No 8 but that would be harsh on Billy Vunipola, whose form was outstanding before injury allowed Ben Morgan to step up.

The selection may depend on the strength of the opponents but, on current form, Wood and Vunipola would keep Croft on the substitutes’ bench. Captain Chris Robshaw completes the pack at No 7.

England’s strength up front is highlighted by the fact that they have prospered despite Cole joining Corbisiero on the sidelines. In their absence, Joe Marler and David Wilson have continued the good form shown on the tour to Argentina.

Cole would be a candidate for a World XV, as would Hartley if he stopped giving away penalties. Lawes and Launchbury are the world’s form locks.

Understudy: Joe Marler has made a good impression for England while Cole and Corbisiero have been injured

Understudy: Joe Marler has made a good impression for England while Cole and Corbisiero have been injured

Leader: England captain Chris Robshaw is a straighforward choice for England's 2015 World Cup campaign

Leader: England captain Chris Robshaw is a straighforward choice for England's 2015 World Cup campaign

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

Tom- After two years of non-stop Wales are world class and we single handedly won the lions tour (whilst simultaneously losing to Japan) you have no room to comment! The annoyance you show means we are moving the right way, which is the opposite to the over hyped welsh world beaters!! Beat a SH team then get back to us, cheers :)

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I don't know why England are even bothering to host the World Cup. Clearly it's a waste of time anyone else turning up. Just tell the World that in the light of coming second in the last two six nations the RFU have decided to over ride the IRB and declare themselves World Campions. Which comes first? The arrogant media or the arrogant fans? And you wonder why the rest of the world- not just the Welsh- always cheer on whoever you play?

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Wales will not progress from their Pool at RWC 2015 - shame!!!!!!!!

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I'm a Tigers fan and I've been a HUGE Tom Croft fan for years, but I would much rather have Wood start at 6 - he's a hard bloke and does an awful lot of work, he really helps the pack impose themselves. I'd have Croft on the bench for that extra zing in the final 20 minutes (imagine bringing Croft and Tuilagi on as impact subs! Ouch), he can also cover second row in an emergency too.

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'World class'? Only if you mean they're drawn increasingly from around the world. Scotland is for Scots, Wales is for the Welsh, England is for everybody. Why does nobody protest this scandal?

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Dan cole world 15? Really? Think we getting a little carried away ben

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For me me Brown was one of the standout players of the tournament but from the packs perspective Launchbury is a world beater and still improving.

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