Mailbox: ‘Ashton has got it wrong’

Date published: May 14 2009

The selection of the England squad for the forthcoming Six Nations has sent our readers a-scribbling. The jury seems to be hung over the inclusion of the likes of Lesley Vainikolo and Iain Balshaw, and there are tears shed for quite a number of absent friends. Here are some of your views…

Can’t say I’m surprised Vainikolo’s been picked but I am disappointed! He’s Tongan, and as such he should jolly well play for Tonga! Beyond that however will someone please explain Ashton’s blind-spot when it comes to Balshaw?! Noon’s had his time and Hodgson has proved time and time again that he’s a great club player but does not have the stones to step up! Where’s Varndell? Where’s Hipkiss? Where’s Allen? Tell me who the inside centre is in that squad? Flood? Great distribution but the ball carrying ability of fractious toddler! You’ll have to play Tins outside him which means your midfield is utterly one-dimensional?! And in the forwards … where’s Crane? Where’s Hartley? Lipman? Lund? Instead we have Regan at the grand old age of 35, Mears who’s too damn small and Kay who’s holding onto his place by his finger nail?! I’m not advocating ditching all the old guard for the sake of youth – that’s a sure fire way to lose test matches, but I sure as hell think the balance is wrong. Genuine talent who will be in New Zealand come 2011 should be in this squad – Crane being the most obvious candidate. I’m not saying start them but get them in the squad and keep them together for four years! We may perform in the six nations but I think Ashton’s missed a trick.
– Andy Lee, London

I don’t usually bother writing in to voice my opinion as it won’t change anything and you have to assume the men in charge have a better knowledge of players than you do, but quite simply that is the most disappointing England squad Ashton could have picked after all the hype. It should have been goodnight to Cueto and Balshaw and I’m shocked at Vainikolo. The following are very unlucky: Hipkiss, Varndell, Lamb, Allen, Wood, Abendanon and there’s many more. I would love to see a warm up game between the Saxons and the ‘England’ team. Finally I genuinely believe Ashton should back his choices and explain why James Simpson-Daniel has missed out again. It’s criminal and I think the majority of England supporters (and the many fans he has abroad) deserve to know why. No wonder the rest of the rugby world laughs at us. Winning is great but do we have to be so boring?
– O’Dave, LondonAfter all that whingeing about NZ taking Pacific Island players – now that it suits England I wonder is there still the same bleating? At least the Pacific Island players playing for the All Blacks grew up and learnt to play Rugby in New Zealand. Having said this I certainly don’t blame the English, Vainikolo is a powerful hard-running player, better to have him with you than against you, eh? Last parting shot: re RWC, the biggest difference between England and the All Blacks – Kaplan actually penalised the French in their game, which is how England regained the lead funnily enough.
– Evan Christie, New Zealand

Considering the population of England and the fact that England has more rugby players to choose from than any other country, picking Vainikolo does not say much for the ability of England’s home grown wingers. This guy came over here specifically to play rugby, albeit league, attracted by money and I certainly don’t blame him for that. But for England to select him makes him a bought player. If he had migrated to England for other reasons than rugby or as a youngster with his family than fair enough he could qualify by residency. But to qualify by residency after coming over specifically to play rugby I feel is quite wrong.
– Gareth Williams

What on earth is Iain Balshaw doing there? What has he contributed in the last six years? I am now absolutely convinced he has photographic evidence of a m