Jonny May on the rise but Joe Launchbury suffers - 3 up, 3 down for England
Tom Hamilton
September 5, 2015
© Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Stuart Lancaster has now seen his final 80 minutes of Test rugby before England's Rugby World Cup opener against Fiji on September 18. Following England's win against Ireland, we pick out three players who have improved their chances of starting against Fiji and those whose prospects may have taken a knock.


Jonny May

The Gloucester winger remains a frustrating player. In England's first World Cup warm-up against France, he was fantastic. In their return match in Paris, he struggled while his wing partner Jack Nowell impressed. Now against Ireland he was one of England's best players as he took his try brilliantly early on - flattening Tommy Bowe in the process - and also fared well under the Ireland high ball. He could have had a second score but the try was ruled out for Tom Youngs' forward pass. He has done his claims for a starting spot the world of good.

Ben Youngs

Another player who struggled in Paris, this was Ben Youngs' best game since their win over France in the last match of the Six Nations. With Danny Care and Richard Wigglesworth waiting in the wings, Youngs had to perform against Ireland. And his game management was superb as he kept the tempo going when England were attacking and his kicking out of hand was also bang on the mark.

Tom Wood

It was an all-action display from the blindside and he looks to have nailed his colours to the first-choice No.6 spot. He made an impressive 14 tackles and his presence was invaluable in what was a bullish display in defence. Wood is also a key member of the leadership team and should start against Fiji.

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Joe Launchbury

England's set piece looked the better for having Geoff Parling and Courtney Lawes on the field. Both have led England's lineout in the past and with the emphasis ahead of Fiji likely to be on getting the basics right and letting the backs attack in turn, the smart money would be on a Parling-Lawes starting axis. Launchbury is still very much in with a shout but the other two are ahead in the pecking order.

Rob Webber

Despite Stuart Lancaster earlier in the week saying Webber is not necessarily third choice due to missing out on selection for their match against Ireland, Tom Youngs and replacement Jamie George did well so are likely to be the two hookers in the squad for the Fiji match. Webber still has a number of training sessions to impress in - something Lancaster puts a lot of weight on when coming to picking team - but he will have to go some to usurp George or Tom Youngs.

Dan Cole

Doubts remain over England's front-row in the scrum and Cole still looks a little short of the player he can be. He is likely to go into the World Cup as first-choice tight-head but he will not have it easy against Fiji. He has Davey Wilson and Kieran Brookes breathing down his neck.

© Tom Hamilton
Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.

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