With England likely to have a significant number of their players on the Lions tour later this year, coach Eddie Jones has a chance to experiment with some second stringers and new players in a two test series against Argentina in the summer.
Eddie Jones’ Current Crop
Below we have named a squad of 32 (the same size as the one that toured Australia last year) based on current EPS members and Saxons members.
We have tried to predict which first team players are most likely to go on the Lions tour and thus be unavailable for England selection this summer.
Likely Lions Duty: Joe Marler, Mako Vunipola, Dan Cole
Nathan Catt, Matt Mullan, Ellis Genge, Kyle Sinckler, Paul Hill, Kieran Brookes
Likely Lions Duty: Dylan Hartley, Jamie George
Tommy Taylor, Luke Cowan-Dickie, George McGuigan
Likely Lions Duty: Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Maro Itoje
George Kruis, Charlie Ewels, Dave Attwood
Back Row (7)
Likely Lions Duty: James Haskell, Billy Vunipola
Chris Robshaw, Tom Wood, Mike Williams, Jack Clifford, Teimana Harrison, Nathan Hughes, Josh Beaumont
Scrum Halves (2)
Likely Lions Duty: Ben Youngs
Danny Care, Dan Robson
Fly Halves (2)
Likely Lions Duty: Owen Farrell
George Ford, Alex Lozowski
Likely Lions Duty: Anthony Watson
Jack Nowell, Jonny May, Semesa Rokoduguni, Marland Yarde
Likely Lions Duty: Jonathan Joseph, Elliot Daly
Ben Te’o, Henry Slade, Joe Marchant
Mike Brown, Mike Haley
Bolters and Form Players
After the U20s’ Grand Slam success last weekend (their first such title since 2011), Eddie Jones may be tempted to choose one or two players from the side to travel to South America. In recent times he has rewarded both Leicester flanker Will Evans and Quins speedster Joe Marchant with chances to impress, but current captain Zach Mercer has been impressing in the Aviva Premiership and at age grade level – could he be given a shot this summer?
Moreover, Ospreys openside Sam Underhill will be eligible for England selection for the tour having agreed a move to Bath for next season. Although still relatively inexperienced as a player, he is arguably the closest thing the country has to an ‘out-and-out’ openside.
There are also a handful of players that have been consistent in the Premiership and European competitions this season. Exeter Chiefs’ Phil Dollman and James Short are two individuals that have been standouts in recent months, as well as New Zealand-born Jason Woodward of Bristol.
Newcastle Falcons’ Callum Chick and Sale Sharks’ twins Ben and Tom Curry are all potential stars for the future. Might they be perceived as long term projects and worth taking along to Argentina?
Finally, what are the chances of outcasts Danny Cipriani, Alex Goode and Ben Morgan of featuring once more for their country? Stranger things have happened.
An England XV To Face Argentina
1) Ellis Genge
2) Tommy Taylor
3) Kyle Sinckler
4) Charlie Ewels
5) George Kruis
6) Chris Robshaw
7) Sam Underhill
8) Nathan Hughes
9) Danny Care
10) George Ford
11) Jonny May
12) Henry Slade
13) Ben Te’o
14) Jack Nowell
15) Mike Brown
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena