Heading into this year’s Six Nations England are still trying to figure out who their best bak rowers are and with Sam Underhill likely to be missing for at least their opening match against Ireland.
Billy Vunipola does return and he is most certainly nailed on as England’s number eight if he can stay fit. He looked powerful and robust on his return for Saracens and he took his try well.
At six for much of the autumn was former Hurricane, Brad Shields. He was solid but by no means exceptional and he’s barely played for his club Wasps since his move from New Zealand in the summer. England’s number eight from the autumn Mark Wilson is a natural blindside flanker.
Then there is the brilliant Alex Dombrandt who has been in exceptional form for Harlequins, this man has some pace on him and he knows how to use it. He could be a very good addition to Eddie Jones’ squad.
Courtney Lawes is of course an option in the back row and may be able to offset the physicality lost with the absence of Sam Underhill.
Talking of Sam Underhill who fills that void?
One option is Tom Curry from Sale, a very capable flanker and a good scavenger but he lacks the tackling power and all out strength of his Bath rival.
Tom Curry seems to be the only real option to replace Underhill unless England want to switch Wilson to the openside.