Picking an England 23 for the summer internationals
England have travelled to Argentina during the last three Lions tours, but this year they host the USA and Canada, as well as an England A fixture against Scotland A. The visiting sides’ rankings may allow Eddie Jones even more room for experimentation this summer as he begins to blood in new players for the 2023 World Cup, while still maintaining a degree of experience in his squad.
So this is what England’s matchday squad could look like this year:
1 ELLIS GENGE
Though a mainstay in Jones’ England squads, Ellis Genge has only started three Tests since the World Cup, and only nine out of his 28 caps. With Mako Vunipola on Lions duty, he has an opportunity to start.
4 CHARLIE EWELS
With 21-caps to his name since 2016, Charlie Ewels is not a fresh face in the England lineup, but given the depth in the second-row, he has been in and out of starting XVs.
6 TED HILL
Worcester Warriors captain Ted Hill earned his only England cap in 2018 at the age of 19, but has been overlooked by Jones since then. He offers something in the No6 shirt that few of his England competitors do and should earn his second cap this summer.
7 BEN EARL
Sam Underhill always remains a popular option at openside flanker, but these Tests provide Ben Earl the chance to make his first start. The Bristol Bears loose forward has solely been used as a ‘finisher’ by Jones in his first 13 caps.
8 ALEX DOMBRANDT
One of the players whose omission has caused the most controversy over the past 18 months, Harlequins’ No8 Alex Dombrandt’s level has not dropped, and even though Billy Vunipola is not on the Lions tour, the 24-year-old deserves his chance.
9 HARRY RANDALL
An ankle injury during the Six Nations ended Harry Randall’s chances of making his first England appearance, but he is nearing a return and should be in contention for England.
10 MARCUS SMITH
One of the form players in England this year, it would be a shock if Quins’ Marcus Smith did not earn his first cap this summer. The 22-year-old’s attacking mindset is a departure from how England have played over the past year, but he could be the shake-up that is needed.
11 OLLIE HASSELL-COLLINS
The 66-cap Jonny May could provide some experience amongst some green three-quarters and will want to put his Lions disappointment behind him. If Jones is more daring though, London Irish’s Ollie Hassell-Collins has made a strong case to play all season.
12 PIERS O’CONOR
A classy operator in the midfield for Bristol, Piers O’Conor faced the Barbarians in 2019 alongside Smith and Dombrandt, but has also failed to make a Test appearance. He has struggled to curry favour with Jones in recent seasons but always performs for the Bears.
13 OLLIE LAWRENCE
Jones has clearly earmarked Ollie Lawrence as one of his future stars and has been keen to throw him in at the deep end, though the 21-year-old’s Test career has failed to ignite in his previous six appearances. Then again, he has not had the easiest of opponents to start his Test career.
14 OLLIE THORLEY
Paolo Odogwu may have been in line to earn his first cap before picking up his ACL injury, but Ollie Thorley is another player who has been in and around England training camps, but only has the one cap. With Anthony Watson and Elliot Daly in South Africa, this could be the Gloucester man’s chance.
15 MAX MALINS
His selection at fullback against France and Ireland in the Six Nations (though he was forced to withdraw from the latter) suggested Jones views Max Malins as England’s next fullback, and he could further cement that place.
16 ALFIE BARBEARY
Capable of playing at hooker or the back row, Wasps’ 20-year-old powerhouse Alfie Barbeary must feature if fully fit, and provides great cover on the bench.
17 BENO OBANO
Bath’s Beno Obano was given a taste of Test rugby in the Six Nations and will hope to build on that this summer.
18 JOE HEYES
Jones is not short of tighthead options, even with Sinckler gone. Exeter’s Harry Williams has Test experience, but in terms of youth, fellow Exeter prop Marcus Street and Leicester’s Joe Heyes have bright futures. Having made England’s Six Nations shadow squad, Heyes may be ahead of the bunch here.
19 NICK ISIEKWE
Capable of covering the second row and back row, Nick Isiekwe is a powerful option to provide an impact from the bench.
20 GEORGE MARTIN
Like Isiekwe, the 19-year-old George Martin is a versatile option from the bench, and a player Jones clearly likes the look of.
21 DAN ROBSON
Another player who has caps to his name, twelve, but no starts thus far, Dan Robson will have the chance this summer to stake a claim for the No9 shirt.
22 JACOB UMAGA
Joe Simmonds and George Ford are options this summer, meaning the fly-half stocks are high, but Jacob Umaga was in the England shadow squad this year, and looks to be ahead of Simmonds in terms of the next generation of No10s.
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