Do England have enough depth to be able to select a team of uncapped players capable of challenging some of the best teams in the world? We’ve put together a team of some of the most promising young names in the English game.
1) Alex Waller
The Northampton Saints loosehead has been close to an England call-up before; Stuart Lancaster named Waller in previous Saxons squads. However, current England coach Eddie Jones overlooked the Saintsman in favour of the raw Ellis Genge. Sale Sharks’ was also named ahead of Waller in the Saxons team that defeated South Africa in the summer. A solid performer at the set-piece, in defence and around the park, Waller would be a good option at test level.
2) Harry Thacker
With Tom Youngs out injured for much of last season, young Leicester hooker Thacker took the most of his opportunities and was a revelation for the Tigers with his pace and awareness of space around the park. Whilst not the finished article by any means, Thacker offers something a little different to the other options Eddie Jones currently has at hooker.
3) Kyle Sinckler
Harlequins tighthead Sinckler was a surprise inclusion in England’s squad to tour Australia last summer; although he is an impressive specimen around the park, Sinckler has much work to do at the set piece to become a recognised test tighthead. However, with the likes of Wales legend Adam Jones to learn from at his club, it won’t be long for the youngster is pushing for full honours at international level. His call-up ahead of Paul Hill last week suggests he will be capped very soon.
4) Charlie Ewels
The young second row has impressed Eddie Jones so far and after a successful Saxons tour was on Wednesday morning named in England’s squad for the Autumn Internationals. With only four recognised locks in the squad there is a chance he will earn his first cap for his country this November or December.
5) Ed Slater
Former Nottingham and current Leicester Tigers lock Slater has had the honour of captaining his country without having yet earnt a cap. He led England out to victory over Canterbury Crusaders on their tour of New Zealand back in 2014. Although he has recently suffered from serious injuries, Slater is slowly coming back into match fitness and will be hoping to impress the England selectors.
6) Nathan Hughes
Fiji-born Hughes now qualifies for England on residency grounds and has been named in Eddie Jones’ squad to take on South Africa, Argentina, Fiji and Australia this autumn. Given England’s current openside crisis due to a spate of injuries in the position, it is likely Hughes will start on the blindside for his adopted country, in a back row that will certainly have no shortage of power and ball-carrying abilities.
7) Sam Underhill
Given the RFU’s policy of not selecting foreign-based players, it is unlikely Underhill will play for England any time soon, or at least until he signs for an English club. However, he is one of the most exciting young prospects in the game and England would be foolish to allow his talents to be poached by Wales on residency grounds.
8) Josh Beaumont
Something of a different type of player to his famous father, Beaumont has emerged as a player of immense athletic ability, pace and power. He also provides an excellent lineout option for England and his stats at the set piece have been particularly impressive this season. Although he faces competition from Billy Vunipola, Nathan Hughes, Dave Ewers and a rejuvenated Ben Morgan, do not be surprised to Beaumont in an England shirt soon.
9) Dan Robson
Robson was part of England’s extended EPS squad recently, but the Wasps scrum-half will be disappointed to learn that he was not included in the 33 man squad for the Autumn Internationals. However, the young number nine’s time will come and he is effectively England’s third choice scrum-half (with Jones only selecting two in his squad this time around).
10) Alex Lozowski
Having been frozen out at Wasps last season when it was announced Lozowski would be leaving the club to join Saracens, the young Englishman has made the most of his opportunities with his new club and rightfully earnt the third fly-half slot in Eddie Jones’ latest EPS squad.
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11) Alex Lewington
Despite being relegated to the Championship, Lewington has stuck with London Irish – a club that stood by him and gave his chance to represent England Saxons last year. Although he’s not making the headlines now because he’s out of the Premiership spotlight, Lewington is young enough to get his chance eventually, although he does face considerable competition.
12) Ben Te’o
The league convert has his critics, but there is no denying Te’o is a powerful physical specimen and offers an abrasiveness at 12 that England’s other current options – Tuilagi aside – can offer. Te’o was involved in England’s summer tour to Australia but is yet to earn a cap. His chance will surely come soon enough.
13) Joe Marchant
Young Harlequins centre Marchant was a revelation for the England U20s last summer – this writer saw first hand the player’s attacking abilities at the World Championship final in Salford – but has not made the cut for England’s squad this time around. However, he is likely to remain part of England’s extended squad for the time being and will be hoping to push Jonathan Joseph and Elliot Daly all the way for the coveted 13 jersey.
14) Henry Purdy
Gloucester have had something of a mixed season so far, but one of their highlights has been young winger Henry Purdy, an England U20s representative and an exciting prospect for the future. Although England now has considerable depth on the wing, an injury crisis could see the youngster handed his opportunity. Expect to see him in a Saxons team shortly.
15) Mike Haley
Haley will be over-the-moon that he was named in England’s 33 man squad for the Autumn Internationals, and it seems Eddie Jones shares many fans’ views that the Sale Sharks fullback will take over the reigns at fullback once Mike Brown retires. Haley may well earn his first cap by Christmas, so watch this space.
Whilst this team might struggle for cohesion to begin with given the lack of test experience together, over time together it would become a special team indeed. There aren’t many countries that can select an uncapped team of such calibre.
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena
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