In the life of a professional rugby player, there’s still a long way to go before the first weekend in February when the Six Nations commences.
With two rounds of Champions Cup action to go, there is still an opportunity for fringe players to push their cause and unfortunately, there will also be a number of injuries between now and then.
Sam Underhill is one player who will certainly look to be in the mix for England this year.
Identified by Jones as a potential World Cup player, his performances in the Autumn will only have strengthened his case for inclusion.
Credit Premiership Rugby
Teenage sensation Marcus Smith has been a revelation for Quins after bursting onto the scene this season, prompting England head coach Eddie Jones to call him up as an ‘apprentice’.
While Harlequins director of rugby, John Kingston, wants Eddie Jones to resist the temptation to cap the 18-year-old, Jones may feel Rome’s Stadio Olimpico is the ideal time to blood the young flyhalf from the bench.
Smith also just signed his first professional contract last night with Harlequins, giving him a pay rise of roughly 900 percent and making him the highest paid teenager in the world.
His new salary is estimated to be in the region of £230,000 a year.
In France, Damian Penaud will surely make the French squad that Jacques Brunel names to face Ireland on the opening weekend and with five caps already to his name the 21-year-old may even start.
The Clermont youngster, bagged himself five tries from as many games when representing France in the Six Nations at under-20s level in 2016, a repeat of this form is exactly what a stuttering French side currently need.
Steff Evans of Wales also looks odds-on to make an impact on this seasons Championship with injuries to Hallam Amos and George North.
The Scarlets man will return just in time having received a four-week ban, after a mid-air collision on boxing day that seen him red carded against the Ospreys.
Torrential rain ?? but that hasn’t stopped @steffevs09
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) December 26, 2017
Scoring two phenomenal individual tries in the Irish inter-pros this season, against Ulster and Munster.
Credit: Leinster Rugby TV