2. Arron Reed – Sale Sharks
The Sale Sharks wing has had another excellent performance, and makes our list of five impressive England hopefuls for the second consecutive week. Reed now has five tries in three games, and has been integral in Sale’s recent rise to the top of the Premiership table. Flying down the left wing like a bullet from a gun, Reed’s raw pace must be on the radar of Steve Borthwick by now.
The 24-year-old added two more tries to his tally for the season, which including the Premiership Rugby Cup win against Bedford Blues, sits at six for 2023/24. Reed’s first score against Newcastle came after just 10 minutes, and saw Sale respond to the Falcon’s early try through Premiership debutant Louis Brown (a contender for our list). After Tom Roebuck stabbed the ball through the Falcons defence with a grubber kick, Reed chased the ball down, and was fastest to react to a fumbled recovery for the try.
Reed’s second score showcased his power over the gain-line, as a move straight from the training ground tore through the Falcons defence. After retaining the ball with a scrum, possession was shipped to Rob du Preez, with Reed into the midfield off his touchline for a blistering carry up the centre channel. Reed exploded through the first tackle attempt, and his momentum took him over the try-line to strech Sale’s lead with a first half brace.
3. Joe Heyes – Leicester Tigers
Leicester’s bruising tight-head prop, Joe Heyes could well have stamped his name on an England return, for the 2024 Six Nations after an epic contribution in the East Midland’s derby. Given the nod to start ahead of veteran prop Dan Cole, Heyes once again looked like a serious contender for the future of England’s number three jersey last Saturday. Heyes was immovable at scrum-time, and often sent experienced Leicester loose-head Alex Waller onto the back-foot.
Heyes also presented a strong base at the line-out, elevating Ollie Chessum to new heights to win the arial battle at the set-piece. Heyes drove his mauling pack down field, and looked to have instigated an opening try for Charlie Clare, yet the hooker’s efforts were ruled out after Solomone Kata’s obstruction. The tight-head impressed the Welford Road faithful in the early Premiership rounds whilst Cole was away on World Cup duties, and continued to show his battering talents in his hard-hitting derby classic.
After being given his England debut by Eddie Jones in the Summer of 2021, Heyes has often been on the international fringes. The 24-year-old has not yet gained selection from of his former Leicester Tigers Head Coach Steve Borthwick, with his latest England cap to date coming in last Autumn’s against Japan. However, England have entered a new World Cup cycle, with Cole’s time in an England jersey looking to be winding down. Also, Kyle Sinckler has been heavily linked with a move to Toulon ahead of the 2024/25 season, which could open up two tight-head vacancies for Heyes, in the not so distant future.