With Eddie Jones set to announce his latest squad on Thursday it’s time we took a look at who could be in Eddie Jones’ squad for what will be England’s last matches before they begin their warm-ups for the World Cup in August.
Scrum-half is a key position no matter what team you look at and a hotly contested one for England.
Leicester’s Ben Youngs has been in and around the England squad for nearly a decade since his debut against Australia in 2010. Without him in last seasons championship England spluttered against Wales before suffering defeat to Scotland, France and Ireland. A key cog in the England machine.
Ben Youngs’ England rival for a long time has been Danny Care and as an impact substitute he is good. The victory over Australia back in 2017 springs to mind where Danny Care helped England to a 30-3 win. Following Care there are two options, the experienced operator Richard Wigglesworth and the recently returned Dan Robson.
Rugby360’s Picks: Danny Care (Harlequins), Dan Robson (Wasps), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
The playmaker role for England has one very clear frontrunner, in my mind the best player in the world, Owen Farrell, he also captains the side alongside Dylan Hartley.
With the continued exile of Danny Cipriani, George Ford is the second choice and his form for Leicester has been utterly brilliant. He stands flatter than Farrell and offers something different. Marcus Smith is the heir apparent to Farrell and Ford.
Rugby360’s Picks: Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Leicester Tigers)
One notable omission for England is the Bath centre Jonathan Joseph, he is expected to be back in action next weekend as Bath conclude their European campaign away to Toulouse but it is unlikely there will be enough time for Joseph to get fully fit for test rugby before the opening game.
It must finally be the time for England fans to see the return of the hulking Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi. He is one of those players that can change a game on his own. It would be great to see him back getting a run in the white of England.
Ben Te’o has hardly played for Worcester this season but was key for England in November and certainly performed well alongside Henry Slade. The benefit with Slade is his versatility he can play fly-half as well as both centre positions.
Billy Twelvetrees could make his return following decent form for Gloucester and Alex Lozowksi has been making a name for himself in Saracens’ midfield.
Rugby360’s Picks: Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)
Out wide England are spoilt for choice even without the injured Bath speedster Anthony Watson who is still recovering from an injury suffered in last year’s tournament against Ireland.
His clubmate Joe Cokanasiga was a revelation for England in the autumn and although currently injured he should be fit for the Six Nations. Chris Ashton has started to play for Sale Sharks and he is playing very well.
Another man never in doubt is England’s most consistent winger, Jonny May.
Then there are big choices to make Jack Nowell is the obvious choice but there is of course the brilliant Ollie Thorley who has been scoring some eye catching tries for the Cherry and Whites, Denny Solomona who could have a top 10 tries highlight reel all too himself and Alex Lewington who has put in a number of consistent displays for Saracens.
Rugby360’s Picks: Chris Ashton (Sale Sharks), Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby), Jonny May (Leicester Tigers), Ollie Thorley (Gloucester Rugby)
Last but certainly not least at the back. Utility back Elliot Daly is the man currently in possession of the shirt despite a few shaky displays in November. With Watson absent Mike Brown is amongst it.
It is also about time to once again consider the talents of the wonderful Alex Goode with the World Cup looming.
Rugby360’s Picks: Mike Brown (Harlequins), Elliot Daly (Wasps)