Best of the rest: Picking an 'England Form XV'
Eddie Jones’ England selection is under more scrutiny than it ever has been this Guinness Six Nations.
Two losses from the opening three matches have ramped up the heat and raised questions about players that are in, or more importantly not in the squad. Combined with a large contingent playing for Saracens in the Greene King IPA Championship, there are plenty of players performing in the Gallagher Premiership that are not playing for England.
So this an England form XV:
15 FREDDIE STEWARD
Max Malins has struggled for game time this Six Nations but was in good form beforehand. Elsewhere, Leicester Tigers’ 20-year-old Freddie Steward is not on the radar yet, but will be if his form continues.
14 PAOLO ODOGWU
Wasps’ Paolo Odogwu was rewarded for his superb form this year by being selected for England this Six Nations, but has not played now in two months.
13 PIERS O’CONOR
Bristol Bears’ Piers O’Conor has stood out this season in a back line full of superstars, but still cannot work his way into any national setup despite qualifying for several. Has a keen eye for space and glides through gaps to make a lot of ground.
12 OLLIE DEVOTO
Exeter Chiefs’ Ollie Devoto has been in and out of England squads since 2016, but only has two caps. The centre’s form rarely ever drops though.
10 MARCUS SMITH
The Premiership’s top point scorer this season Marcus Smith is not only metronomic with his kicking, but has been almost faultless in most other departments. The 22-year-old’s attacking capabilities have never been questioned, but he is showing the well-rounded game of a Test player.
9 HARRY RANDALL
Like Odogwu, Bristol’s Harry Randall was called into the Six Nations squad on the back of his form this season, but did not play. An ankle injury has now ended his hopes of earning a cap this season.
1 JOE MARLER
Though he has actually ruled himself out of England contention this Six Nations, Joe Marler is playing some of his best rugby currently.
2 TOM DUNN
Luke Cowan-Dickie is the form hooker in England at the moment and is rightfully in the squad, but Tom Dunn is knocking on the door after being involved with England in the autumn.
ICYMI: Here is the RugbyPass interview from last Sunday with Northampton Saints lock David Ribbans who has now been called into the England Six Nations set-up#SixNations #PremRugby
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 3, 2021
6 ALEX DOMBRANDT
One of the form players in the Premiership currently and second-highest try scorer, Harlequins’ No8 Alex Dombrandt is lethal when given space and has benefited from his side’s stylistic change this season.
8 SAM SIMMONDS
The reigning European player of the year Sam Simmonds is still in the same form he was in last year, if not better. Jones has his reasons for not picking him, but with 13 tries in 12 games it is becoming harder each week to justify them. Looking to be the most controversial omission of the Australian’s tenure.
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