That reaction after Harlequins No8 Alex Dombrandt was named the Gallagher Premiership player of the month on Wednesday has been unsurprising.
The 22-year-old was in rampant form throughout January – and indeed the past year – at the back of Harlequins scrum, and this latest award has only fanned the flames of the campaign for him to play for England.
The No8 made the most line breaks of any player across Europe in January, while also making the most metres of any forward in the Premiership (via OptaJonny), but he has shown this kind of form all season.
However, to the bemusement of the majority of England fans, Eddie Jones has not selected a No8 this Six Nations in the absence of the injured Billy Vunipola.
He has instead chosen to fashion flanker Tom Curry into a No8, which has not been wholly accepted. This is not only because the Sale Sharks youngster is a world-class flanker, but there are many talented No8s at Jones’ disposal in great form.
9 – @Alex_dombrandt made the most clean breaks (9) of any @premrugby player in the league and Europe combined in January, as well as gaining the most metres of any forward (250; 3rd most overall behind Ollie Thorley and Taqele Naiyaravoro). Award. pic.twitter.com/pjcyitiVSn
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) February 12, 2020
Exeter Chiefs’ Sam Simmonds is another player that has also been overlooked to the dismay of many.
Jones has named his 25-man squad for training this week ahead of the contest against Ireland the following weekend, and he has still opted for a back row devoid of a specialist No8.
And of no interest to Eddie for @EnglandRugby? Just don't get it
— Sean McMorrow (@ShinyF1) February 12, 2020
Will he now get selected for England?
— Brian Gamlin (@bgammers2807) February 12, 2020
Unfortunately under the current @EnglandRugby regime that would seem to be the kiss of death to his chances of a cap.
— David Parsons (@BlackElk1) February 12, 2020
@EnglandRugby any danger of EJ picking a number 8. You know, a guy who actually plays 8. Curry is a 6; although doing a good job covering. Dombrandt deserves his shot.
— Jonny Hammond (@jonny_hammond) February 12, 2020
And still can't get a call up for the England squad ???? really Eddie?? https://t.co/sX21HZGFM1
— Matt Senior (@MattSenior84) February 12, 2020
The Australian has his reasons for doing this, and many of his controversial calls have paid off in the past, but Dombrandt’s form means it is growing increasingly difficult for Jones to justify omitting him. This latest award will only increase the pressure.
A number 8 playing the form of his life but somehow no place for him in a national team that needs one? ?
— Matthew minto (@Novos6Matt) February 12, 2020
If Eddie could design his perfect 8 it’d look something pretty similar to Dombrandt…so I’d just love to know why he won’t pick him. https://t.co/DHnebhi7Ya
— Stuart (@Slackylc) February 12, 2020
The Harlequins forward did play against the Barbarians last year for England, catching the eye of many fans in that performance, and was part of the World Cup training squad. However, he has not been part of Jones’ plans since then with the coach citing his workrate as a reason for this.
But as the surging No8 continues to terrorise defences in England, the argument that he should be playing for his country becomes more compelling.
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