Easter unlucky to not to make the squad but Lancaster needed clear-out
Stuart Lancaster needed a clear-out following the disastrous World Cup and he has to be applauded for making those decisions.
Nick Easter will feel aggrieved to miss out because he has hit form in Harlequins’ successful start to the season. But he was a member of the senior playing group in New Zealand and Lancaster had to act.
Delon Armitage is another casualty. Though he is back for London Irish after suspension, he is playing too loosely and there was no way England could ignore Mike Brown’s form at full-back for Harlequins.
Tough call: Stuart Lancaster made some big decisions in naming his first England squad
Brown may not start against Scotland because Lancaster appears to favour a back three of Ben Foden, Chris Ashton and Charlie Sharples, but he deserves a chance at some stage in the tournament.
England look light in some areas, especially at hooker, where Steve Thompson’s retirement leaves them relying on Lee Mears and Rob Webber to back up Dylan Hartley.
Missing out: Nick Easter and Delon Armitage were not included in the squad
Lancaster has also been very pragmatic. Would Charlie Hodgson have been picked had Toby Flood not suffered a knee injury last week
Still, it makes sense to give the experienced Hodgson his chance again alongside a likely midfield partnership featuring two other Saracens — Brad Barritt and Owen Farrell.
Knows what it takes: Ben Kay won the World Cup with England in 2003
Up front, Northampton’s Paul Doran-Jones is unlucky to miss out but Lancaster has opted for the all-round skills of Matt Stevens, who I would like to see as an ‘impact’ substitute.
Former England lock Ben Kay is rugby analyst for ESPN’s Aviva Premiership coverage. ESPN is delivering multi-platform coverage of the RBS Six Nations, with ESPNscrum.com.