Although much of the media focus over the next few months will be on the Lions tour to New Zealand, Eddie Jones will be taking his England charges out to Argentina for a two test series that promises to be truly competitive.
England could be missing as many as 15 or more senior players from their squad, meaning Jones will need to turn to his second stringers, bolters or leftfield options to fill the gaps.
We have put together the top five EQP players in a number of categories based on data from last week’s round of Aviva Premiership fixtures.
Top EQP Tacklers
This list brings up the thorny issue of the three year residency rule, with three of the five players having been born outside of England and qualifying for the men in white on residency grounds. Bristol old head Mark Sorenson, now 38, is unlikely to be in Jones’ thoughts, but he impressed in defence as they narrowly lost to top four team Exeter 38 – 34. He is joined in this list by three of his team mates, which just shows you the immense amount of work his side got through to contain the Chiefs.
Both Fenton-Wells and Rhodes are South African-born, with the latter recently announcing his intention to play for England.
Top EQP Carriers
Chris Robshaw has recently returned from the injury that ruled him out of this year’s Six Nations and seems determined to make the most of the limited opportunities he has to prove to Lions coach Warren Gatland that he is worthy of inclusion in the squad to tour New Zealand this summer.
But in terms of England’s tour to Argentina, Exeter boasted three of the best carriers in the Premiership in Waldrom, Cowan-Dickie and Nowell.
Top EQP Metres Made
Although Mike Brown remains Eddie Jones’ firm favourite at fullback, Sale Sharks fifteen Mike Haley has been in the England squad since the Saxons tour to South Africa last summer. He made more metres than any other player in the Premiership last weekend as Sale thwarted Worcester 36 – 26. A start against Argentina could be the perfect game for his international debut.
Meanwhile, young Warriors wingers Perry Humphreys really impressed for his club despite their loss. He also tops the ‘defenders beaten’ stat for this week.
Exeter Chiefs back Phil Dollman, born in Wales but qualified for England on residency, and New Zealand-born Jason Woodward continue to show what they can offer the national team.
|Mike Haley||Sale Sharks||151|
Top EQP Lineouts Won
England could lose all four of their senior locks to the Lions this summer, including Wasps’ Joe Launchbury, so who could fill the void at the set piece? Don Armand is a fantastically consistent forward and should be considered to tour, and Newcastle’s Calum Green is a tremendously underrated talent.
Top EQP Defenders Beaten
Worcester youngster Humphreys showed what he could offer in attack against Sale, whilst the Watson brothers feature in the top five ‘defenders beaten’ list this week.
Top EQP Offloaders
Mike Brown is often criticised for apparent ‘tunnel vision’ and not necessarily passing to the players around him, but he tops the EQP offloaders count for this week, making four in the game against Saracens. Exeter’s Olly Woodburn and Bath’s George Ford also made three apiece.
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena
All stats provided by Opta on behalf of Premiership Rugby.
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