"New Zealand Bound" - 5 England Hopefuls Who Impressed In the Final Round of the Premiership - Ruck

“New Zealand Bound” – 5 England Hopefuls Who Impressed In the Final Round of the Premiership

The 2023/24 Gallagher Premiership regular season is in the books, with the top four confirmed ahead of the incoming play-off stages. Northampton Saints end the season at the top of the Premiership table by the narrowest of margins, after a final round defeat to league runners-up Bath.

Sale Sharks pulled out all the stops for their final round trip to North London, as Alex Sanderson’s men secured a 20-10 away victory against Saracens. This milestone win saw the Sharks staple their name to a third-place finish, with Saracens clinging on to the fourth play-off spot, just two points to the good of narrowly eclipsed Bristol Bears.

James Dun of Bristol Bears during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Bristol Bears and Saracens at Ashton Gate on 11 May 2024. Photo: Izzy Ninnis/PPAUK

The Premiership play-offs have been confirmed, with Northampton and Bath awarded the luxury of a home semi-final. The Saints are set for a run-in with fourth placed Saracens, in what could well be the final curtain for the likes of Owen Farrell and the Vunipola brothers in the iconic red and black. Bath Rugby host Sale Sharks at the Rec, with the visitors eager to return to the Premiership Final and go one better than their runners-up outing from 12 months ago.

Amidst all of the focus on the Premiership clubs, there has been an underlying backdrop of international contention for the upcoming England Summer tour. England head to Japan and New Zealand across June and July, with head coach Steve Borthwick assessing his impressive bolters to take on the Brave Blossoms and All Blacks.

Steve Borthwick, Head Coach of England during the England Captains Run at Twickenham Stadium, London on 9 February 2024 (Photo: George Beck/PPAUK)

Borthwick had plenty of contenders from the final round of the Gallagher Premiership’s regular season to scout, and we’ve picked out the top five performers who could well be on the plane this Summer. Here are the top five England hopefuls, who impressed in last weekend’s Premiership Rugby final round of action.


Will Muir of Bath Rugby during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Bath Rugby and Saracens at the Recreation Ground on 26 April 2024. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

The first of a few back-three players who put their hands up for England contention this past weekend, Will Muir led the way for Bath in their crucial win over Northampton Saints. This all-important victory saw the men in blue, black and white secure a home semi-final, which has certainly excited the Rec Ground faithful. It is reported that a strong contingent of Bath fans have already bought their tickets for the Premiership Final, and have looked past the incoming challenge of a semi-final battle with Sale Sharks.

Will Muir made his way over for two tries against the Saints, in an impressive attacking display. The 28-year-old has been on the fringes for his England test debut in recent months, as he was called up for the 2024 Guinness Six Nations squad earlier this year. The former England Sevens star ran rampant against the table-topping Saints, with his first try seeing him stroll through a gap on the Northampton 22m, after a well timed Finn Russell assist split the defence.

Will Muir of Bath Rugby holds off Marcus Smith of Harlequins during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Harlequins and Bath at Twickenham Stoop, London on 30 March 2024. Photo: James Whitehead/PPAUK

Muir’s second half score was equally as impressive, as he demonstrated his full stride along the left wing after receiving the ball on the Northampton 10m line. Muir broke away with a full head of steam, and handed a strong fend to Tom Litchfield which sent the centre to the deck. The wing cascaded down the turf, before wrapping up the solo score with a nice dive over the whitewash. The Bath man has been patiently waiting for his England debut in the 15-a-side version of the sport, and his hard work could well pay off when Borthwick names his squad for the upcoming Summer tests.


Alfie Barbeary of Bath Rugby during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Bath Rugby and Sale Sharks at the Recreation Ground on 24 March 2023. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

We stick with Bath for the second name on our list, as back-row bruiser Alfie Barbeary left his Northampton opponents the same blue, black and white as his Bath team strip. A relentless ball-carrier, Barbeary has been a name that England fans across the country have been calling for a run-out in the red rose. The 23-year-old’s fanbase is not limited to Somerset, and it’s anticipated that England fans will grow accustomed to the name following a test debut in either Japan or New Zealand.

Barbeary was in fine form once again, as Bath despatched the Saints in the final round of the regular Gallagher Premiership season. The back-row exploded off the bench and fired himself into a driving maul, Barbeary then broke away from the trundling pack and powered through Rory Hutchinson’s tackle attempt to score. Equally impressive in attack as he was defensively, Barbeary held up a late Northampton Saints surge for the try-line, as he won a turnover to halt any Northampton hopes of a consolation try.

England A player Alfie Barbeary (Bath Rugby) during the International rugby match between England A and Portugal at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on February 25th- PHOTO: Steve Bond/PPAUK

The man is certainly amongst the future of England’s back-row, after making his England A debut against Portugal. Barbeary now has his sights set on an international introduction this Summer and Borthwick could well hand the number eight his maiden test cap, as the head coach gets set to name his Summer squad on June 10th.