5 players Eddie Jones should give a chance in 2016
Since taking over, Eddie Jones has warned the core of England players who have formed the bedrock of his team that their places are under pressure following their below-par Rugby World Cup performance, and this is being equally tested by the emergence of new recruits who are making him rethink the possible make-up of his squad for the Six Nations in a months time.
Jones, whose starting XV against Scotland in the tournament opener is still for anybody to guess, could include a few wildcard selections.
Here are five players we think should be given a chance to shine on the international stage…
Jack Clifford (Harlequins)
Quins brightest prospect, Clifford, who has been with the club since he was 13, has established himself as one of the finest up and coming talents in the country today.
His drive, determination and attention to detail in the way he operates make him one of the most unpredictable marshallers of the back row in the modern game.
The Australian-born forward also has much-needed leadership qualities, guiding the 2013 Under 20s to Six Nations and Junior World Cup titles before representing England 7s during the HSBC World Sevens Series in Japan and Hong Kong.
It might be time for him to step up to the big time…
Elliott Daly (Wasps)
Dai Young, Wasps’ director of rugby, reckons Daly is already “a cert” for England’s Six Nations squad.
The utility backs pace, defensive solidity, secure distribution, game awareness and long distance goal kicking could all be qualities that are required to get Jones fresh start off to an immediate success.
He has already represented England at U16, U18 and U20 level, including winning an U20 Grand Slam Six Nations in 2011 and reaching the Junior World Cup final in the same year.
He and Luther Burrell could be the answer to England’s midfield problems, giving the men in white an exciting new partnership for the upcoming Six Nations.
Who would you start in the England midfield?
Alex Lewington (London Irish)
Lewington’s wing play at times is captivating, and he is a player who for sure deserves to be at least in the reckoning for an England place, especially following an injury to Johnny May.
On his Rugby World Cup and current form, Anthony Watson should be nowhere near the England team at this moment in time, opening the door to the Exiles man and perhaps the formerly discarded Chris Ashton, who has been fantastic for Sarries in recent times.
The 23-year-old has scored 25 tries in 64 appearances, and although he hasn’t been at his best this season, we still believe he could make an impact on the international stage.
Brendon O’Connor (Leicester Tigers)
Turnover machine O’Connor is a player Jones needs to put an arm around as he is genuinely one of the most talented Number 7’s we have seen in years – but right now the New Zealand-born flanker is not too sure about the England bit.
The Kiwi back-rower, who was Auckland Blues’ player of the season last year, qualifies to wear the red rose thanks to a grandma who spent the first ten years of her life in Hull before emigrating.
Jones wants a specialist hunter-gatherer in his team for the Six Nations and O’Connor definitely fits that mould, unlike current Number 7 Chris Robshaw, who is a more traditional back-rower.
Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs)
Exeter Chiefs’ Waldrom has been somewhat the star of the 2015/16 Aviva Premiership so far with his authority on the pitch and ability to break the gain line to score tries on a more and more regular basis.
Looking at Jones options, if he s going on form, the only other alternative would be Billy Vunipola of Saracens. Waldrom should, at least, be among things for the Six Nations
Waldrom, who is a very different player to the Sarries man should, at least, be among things for the Six Nations.