Eddie Jones’ job to whittle down all his England back row options to five or six players next month is not an enviable puzzle, all the more so now that uncapped Jack Willis is putting his hand up for inclusion with his form at Wasps.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the Australian could field four completely different trios at the back of the scrum, all of which would be Test standard – such is the level of competition across the Gallagher Premiership at the moment.
One player, however, who seems to be leading the charge for his first Test cap ahead of an extraordinarily competitive field is Willis.
In an inspired season so far, which has seen Wasps steadily climb up the table, the performance of the 23-year-old Willis against Bath on Monday put him in a position whereby many feel it is almost impossible for Jones not to pick him for the upcoming internationals in October, November and December.
Not only that, but there is also talk on social media of the flanker even making the British and Irish Lions squad in 2021.
Great game and a fantastic display by Wasps, especially given all the injuries they suffered.
Jack Willis has to be starting for England. An outstanding display. #BATvWAS
— Bruce Lawson (@Sapere_vivere) August 31, 2020
— Olie Tedder (@OlieTedder) August 31, 2020
Jack Willis has 35 turnovers in 15 games this season. Next best is Blair Cowan with 18. Tom Curry has 7 in 7 games and Sam Underhill has 2 in 5 games. Surely Eddie must pick him in the next England Squad.
— Johnny Wasp (@johnnywasp) August 31, 2020
I’m sure Eddie will find a reason not too pick him, but I can’t foresee an England XV without Jack Willis in the back row. He’s an absolutely brilliant player & proving it in this Bath v Wasps game #CarryThemHome
— David Summers (@davidsummers64) August 31, 2020
Yet another staggering performance from Jack Willis. Head and shoulders above everyone at the moment #COYW
— Will Thomson (@w_tommo13) August 31, 2020
Call me crazy, but Jack Willis should be getting a plane ticket to SA with the Lions in 2021.
— Thoughts On Sports (@NealHoogwerf) September 1, 2020
On the evidence of that superb performance from Jack Willis, Ben Curry has to play for England.
— Ben Brookes (@SameOldBrookesy) August 31, 2020
As stated, Willis faces stern competition in what is now England’s most abundant area of choice on the field. Jones and his selection team are ultimately going to disappoint a number of worthy players in the coming weeks by overlooking them.
Although there is plenty of hysteria over the Wasps player’s performance at The Rec, both Curry twins at Sale Sharks are equally in insatiable form as are those in the No8 shirt as well.
What will perhaps please Jones the most is that so many players bring different qualities, and it is currently Willis’ supremacy at the breakdown that nearly leaves him with rival amongst his compatriots.
If he were to be selected, this would not be the first time that Willis has been called up to the England squad as he was set to travel to South Africa in the summer of 2018 before a cataclysmic knee injury delayed the upwards trajectory of his career.
Since then, he has seen a handful of players break onto the scene in the back row for England, but he is showing the form necessary to warrant a call-up again.
Wayne Barnes has been rightly lauded for his handling of this relatively rare scenario. https://t.co/dnhZSX6Cyu
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 31, 2020
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