Last week James Haskell was ruled out for up to six months with a toe injury. This will result in the flanker missing not only the start of the domestic season and the Champions Cup, he will also be missing out on the autumn internationals.
This autumn will be the first time Eddie Jones can test his England side against the Springboks, Argentina and Fiji while Australia will be coming back for revenge after the series whitewash down under. In Australia our expectations of him grew significantly with the kind of performances at 31 you’d have thought weren’t possible.
He topped the tackle charts with impressive figures. The man of the series had to be Haskell and he leaves a huge hole in the England team that desperately needs filling.
Here are three contenders.
Harrison was the man who filled Haskell’s number seven spot in the last game against the Wallabies last month. Harrison had come off the back of a season where he played the best rugby he has ever done, which earned him two England caps.
His breakdown skills have been so good that he’s ousted former England captain Tom Wood as Northampton’s star back rower. Expect Harrison to use his physicality to earn him a spot in this England team.
The Harlequins man has mainly been used as an impact sub by Jones so far during his reign. His athleticism and ball skills off the bench have changed games where he has brought a spark of energy. As an Under-20 World Cup-winning captain, Clifford has been tipped for success for a long time and Haskell’s injury could pave the way for him to burst onto the international scene.
When he started against Wales back in May he was England’s standout player, even gaining a try for his effort. With performances like that Clifford deserves to be in this England team. Should he become our openside flanker, he would pose a great threat going forward as well as his dogged defending as part of a new English wolf pack.
Kvesic is the nearest thing England have to David Pocock. They have similar physiques as well as a breakdown style admired by all rugby fans. Even the Aussie great George Smith has said that Kvesic is the best breakdown specialist within the Aviva Premiership, and that comes from a man who would know.
The Gloucester flanker is seen as a fetcher from the breakdown as he constantly turns over possession in his team’s favour. Kvesic enjoyed a solid tour with the Saxons, which might prove just enough for him to reach the heights of the England starting XV.
Of course there are many names fighting for this position but those mentioned above are the main three because of their skill sets and what league they play in.
Without residency law you would argue cases could be made for the inclusion of either Steffon Armitage or Sam Underhill, however we won’t know until they step foot on English soil.
Furthermore, the Premiership still has numerous contenders such as Luke Wallace and Will Fraser.
Patrick Perry, Pundit Arena