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'I am going to be biased but he has been outstanding'

By Chris Jones
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Northampton boss Phil Dowson believes Alex Mitchell is delivering consistently “outstanding” performances in the Premiership and is backing his scrum-half to force his way back into the England team after being named in the first training squad of the season.

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Mitchell, who won his only cap in the 69-3 win over Tonga a year ago, joins the Leicester duo of Ben Youngs and Jack van Poortvliet as the scrum-halves in the 36-man squad with Bristol’s Harry Randall and Harlequins Danny Care left out despite having been on the summer tour to Australia where England won the test series.

While Care and Randall have slipped down the scrum half pecking order, Mitchell’s form has been too good for head coach Eddie Jones to ignore opening the way for the Northampton No9 to be given a second cap during England’s four match Autumn series with New Zealand, Japan, South Africa and Argentina.

Having missed out on the Australian tour, Mitchell, Saints’ players’ and supporters’ player of the season for 2021/22, could have become disheartened but Dowson has been hugely impressed with his scrum-half’s mental resilience and ability to bounce back. He said: ”We see Alex every week and I am going to be biased but he has been outstanding. He does things other players cannot do and is such a danger around the fringes that he is a real asset to our attack

“I have been hugely impressed with his mental fortitude and he came into pre-season training and drove standards. He was more communicative than he has been in the last couple of years and with a lot of the senior guys away he put a marker down. He is a great competitor and his level of play will always be good because he is desperate to win.

“One of the things he has been working on is the defensive side of his game both positionally and making tackles. He is going really well and we value him very highly.”

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