Eddie Jones’ England squad never fails to leave sections of the public scratching their heads over players who have missed out.
The squad for the upcoming Guinness Six Nations is no different, and though the addition of a shadow squad has meant 40 players have been called up, there are still some unfortunate players who many feel are worthy of a place.
Be it due to injury, ruling themselves out, or simply having a face that does not fit at this moment in time, this is an alternative England XV:
1 Joe Marler
Harlequins’ Joe Marler was originally in the squad but pulled out this week for personal reasons, providing an opportunity for Tom West in the 28-man squad and Alex Hepburn in the shadow squad.
2 Jack Singleton
A member of England’s World Cup squad, Gloucester’s Jack Singleton has not won a cap since their exploits in Japan, being usurped by Tom Dunn in the hooking pecking order.
3 Kyle Sinckler
While it is expected that the 43-cap Kyle Sinckler will rejoin the squad once the ban for his foul-mouthed outburst is over, he still is not technically part of the squad.
4 George Kruis
Currently plying his trade in Japan with Panasonic Wild Knights, former Saracens lock George Kruis has outlined his ambition to return to the England set-up.
5 Nick Isiekwe
Northampton Saints are reaping the benefits of Nick Isiekwe’s season-long loan from Saracens. Like Bristol Bears’ Ben Earl and Max Malins he would have opted to stay in the Gallagher Premiership in order to boost his chances of England selection, but has not earned a cap since June 2018.
6 Ted Hill
Worcester Warriors’ 21-year-old captain Ted Hill is clearly a player Jones has earmarked for the future, and offers a huge amount in the No6 shirt, but he has not yet been able to make the step up from being a prospect.
7 Sam Simmonds
Probably the absentee that puzzles English fans the most, the European player of the year Sam Simmonds cannot work his way back into Jones’ squad. Playing primarily at No8 at Sandy Park may be a reason for this, as he may not provide the bulk that is desired.
8 Alex Dombrandt
A player that does provide the weight at the back of the scrum that Jones wants to see is Harlequins’ Alex Dombrandt, but the 23-year-old has not been able to convince the Australian.
9 Ben Spencer
The outcry over Ben Spencer’s omission is not as strong as it was in the autumn following a superb denouement to the 2019/20 season with Bath, but he is still a player that has struggled to break into the squad.
10 Joe Simmonds
Exeter’s double-winning captain in 2020 and man of the match in the Heineken Champions Cup final, Joe Simmonds presents a compelling case to earn international honours, but is still an outcast.
Harlequins’ Marcus Smith has also been overlooked for the Six Nations having been on the periphery for the last three years.
11 Joe Cokanasiga
Following a 11-month layoff in 2020 with a knee injury, Bath’s towering winger Joe Cokanasiga is still working his way back to his best form.
12 Piers Francis
In an area where England have plenty of options, Piers Francis has been called upon in the past by Jones to play at No12, but has not been capped since the World Cup.
Ollie Devoto meanwhile earned his first cap in four years in the 2020 Six Nations, but has fallen out of favour again.
13 Ollie Devoto
Sale Sharks’ Manu Tuilagi leaves a gaping hole in the England backline, as the 29-year-old is still out with an achilles injury. But there is a wealth of players across England who still cannot make the squad. Ollie Devoto is one who earned his first cap in four years in the 2020 Six Nations, but has fallen out of favour again.
14 Ollie Thorley
Having earned his first cap in the autumn, Ollie Thorley has seen the hysteria around his name abate over the winter, which may be partly due to Gloucester’s faltering start to their season.
15 Alex Goode
Having previously won the European player of the year, Alex Goode was the Sam Simmonds of 2019 and simply could not break into the national squad. He is now out of contention after signing for NEC Green Rockets in Japan
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