England could lose Prem's top try scorer to Ireland
McGuigan, a former Ireland Under-20s international who played for England Saxons in 2016, collected another try in the narrow 25-22 European Challenge Cup win over Zebre which set up Friday night’s last 16 home game with Glasgow Warriors. It will be another opportunity for McGuigan to show why he is enjoying an excellent season.
In total, McGuigan has scored a remarkable 15 tries in 22 matches this season yet it is his fellow Falcons hooker Jamie Blamire who has caught Eddie Jones’s attention, winning six caps and collecting six tries.
Blamire’s absences on test duty have allowed McGuigan to cement his position as the starting hooker at Falcons who are blessed with a number of options in this key position.
With England heading to Australia for a three test series this summer, Jones has to weigh up the benefits of taking a full-strength squad a year our from the 2023 Rugby World Cup or to give players on the fringes of the squad an opportunity to press their claims ahead of the tournament in France.
Richards is obviously biased in his verdicts on McGuigan and Blamire but as the most experienced director of rugby in the Premiership, his views carry real weight. He told RugbyPass: “We have said for a long time that George has been outstanding and he is quite pragmatic about it and if Eddie(Jones) doesn’t look at him then it wouldn’t surprise me if Ireland didn’t start looking at him. George is battled hardened and is ready to go, we have previously had enquiries about him (from Ireland) and they will be keeping any eye on him because he is a really good option for any international team.
“Both George and Jamie offer a huge amount. Jamie has made a big impact coming off the bench for England and both of them are playing really well.”
Richards has also unearthed another impressive forward in back-rower Freddie Lockwood who was the Premiership’s top tackler with 23 in the last round when the Falcons inflicted a defeat on Worcester at Sixways. “He is big raw-boned lad and we are very happy with him,” added Richards. “We have really hot competition in the back row at the club and I am really pleased Freddie has come through and is showing his worth.”
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