Alex Mitchell was picked as a Six Nations England ‘apprentice’ in January and is thought to be earmarked by Eddie Jones to replace Ben Youngs before the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
The 22-year-old scrum-half suffered a torn meniscus against the Barbarians at Twickenham last summer but he has now returned and is a key part of a youthful setup at Northampton Saints.
Leicester playmaker Youngs is 30 and desperate to keep going but England desperately need young blood.
But Mitchell, speaking to the Mail Online, comes across as a confident character.
‘I can be a threat around the breakdown and make breaks. Nowadays every scrum-half has to be consistent on passing, kicking, be able to tackle. I think I can do that.
‘You can’t just have one string to your bow.
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‘Getting the opportunity early, if I play well, you can go so much further.
‘Eddie speaks to you just like any other player – you’re in the squad, train with everyone and are no different to anyone else, which is good,’ explains Mitchell, dispelling some myths.
‘Even though you’re seen as an apprentice you are still there as a normal player.’
LIST | 5 wonderkids who could star for England at 2023 Rugby World Cup
The England XV that started the 2019 Rugby World Cup final was the youngest ever to play in rugby union’s showpiece, with every member of the starting side 30 years of age or younger.
However, head coach Eddie Jones – with his new deal locked in – believes a squad evolution will be necessary before France 2023, saying the current team ‘doesn’t have another World Cup in them’.
Here are five players who could potentially break into the England set-up…
1. Josh Hodge
- Current number of caps: 0
- Position: Fullback
- Age at the start of RWC 2023: 23
One of England’s most exciting upcoming talents, the fullback is built in the same mould as All Black Damian Mckenzie. Safe under the high ball and blessed with incredible pace, expect him to play a key role f=or Newcastle Falcons on their return to the Premiership. Hopefully he’ll then be in a place to make a bid for international honours.