Wearing the crest of the Rose is among the highest honours that can be bestowed upon an English rugby player.
Every time international rugby comes around, England fans can’t help but have the same debate around the squad selection.
There are two sides to this debate. On one side are the fans of various clubs, complaining that a player from their team has not been picked, claiming that the England side should be picked on form.
On the other side fans complain that they are token call-ups and it’s a waste of time picking players who probably won’t have a long-term future in the England set-up.
But sometimes there is a validity in these arguments; there are a lot of talented players with fewer England caps than their talent probably merits.
On that note, here is, in my humblest of opinions, the best uncapped England XV.
FB: Jason Woodward (Gloucester) – This versatile back three player qualifies for New Zealand, Australia and England, but if a cap is to come, it is likely from the latter, as he currently plays for the Cherry and Whites.
LW: Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins) – He was called into the senior England training squad during the 2019 Six Nations and he was one of four nominees for player of the tournament at the Under-20 World Championship. The powerful, quick wing is stocky with a low centre of gravity, a devastating turn of pace and electric feet. This is also looking like it could be his breakthrough campaign for him at Harlequins.
OC: Nick Tompkins (Saracens) – His dynamic skillset and enthusiastic nature saw him excel for the Men in Black in 2018/19, featuring heavily in the club’s run to their third European success and fifth Premiership title. The former England Under-20 international, who won the 2014 Junior World Championship, signed a new contract in November 2018 until the summer of 2022.
IC: Mark Atkinson (Gloucester) – The centre’s ability to distribute, with the skillset to step in at fly-half, and offload to an audacious degree at times, combined with his six foot six inches frame just shy of a whopping eighteen stone, makes him a serious prospect at international level.
RW: Ollie Thorley (Gloucester) –He made his debut for the Cherry & Whites in 2013 as a 17-year-old, partnering World Cup winner Mike Tindall in the centre of an LV= Cup match, and has since gone on to prove himself as one of the brightest talents at Kingsholm. A World Rugby U20 Championship winner in 2016, Thorley has pace, power and an eye for the try line.
'Get off me'— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) October 28, 2019
Ollie Thorley made Malakai Fekitoa richochet off him! 😂
This is a former All Black we're talking about 😬 pic.twitter.com/mBUGC8pz5P