Jim Mallinder insisted Marcus Smith and Alex Dombrandt have placed themselves in the shop window for inclusion in England’s World Cup training squad by starring in a 51-43 victory over the Barbarians.
Smith amassed a 26-point haul that included a superbly-taken try, six conversions and three penalties to be named man of the match, while his destructive Harlequins team-mate Dombrandt crossed twice.
Both could be called into Eddie Jones’ World Cup training squad that is announced on July 4 and although unlikely to travel to Japan this autumn, they are in fringe contention.
An uncapped Henry Slade played against the Barbarians in 2015 and went on to be included in the World Cup squad later that year and Mallinder believes that one or two of his England XV could plot a similar route.
“We said that everybody had an opportunity of playing for England, being watched and giving themselves a good chance. A number of players have done that,” Mallinder said.
“We’ve seen players in that squad who played really well for England, have played for the Under-20s and won junior World Cups. All they have done is the best they could possibly do.
“Marcus Smith has a massive future ahead of him. He’s still eligible to play for the Under-20s but it was the right thing to play at this level. He has done really well.
“He is a really grounded young man so hopefully he keeps improving. I don’t think we should expect too much of him, but he’s clearly an outstanding player with ball in hand.
“I was very impressed with Alex Dombrandt. I’ve really enjoyed watching him playing for Harlequins this season. Some of his ball carrying and play around the field was very good.”
The Barbarians threatened to overhaul England’s 38-12 lead which was pegged back to 38-35, only for Dombrandt and Smith to produce key scores.
“I thought we’d do it at the end there but we just turned over too much ball. We gave them a few soft tries,” Barbarians coach Pat Lam said.
“Fair play to England, it shows there’s some great talent coming through. There was hunger and desire in their team. Some of their guys wanted to prove a point.”
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