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Five England Players Who Have Massive Points To Prove This Season

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Manu Tuilagi of Leicester Tigers in action during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Leicester Tigers and Benetton Treviso at Welford Road on January 16, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Competition for places in the England squad is intense.

Although England fans did not know it at the time, this time last year Stuart Lancaster’s team were about to embark on a disastrous World Cup campaign.

Fast forward twelve months, and England find themselves in a completely different place. Under the guidance of Eddie Jones, the Red Rose have claimed a Grand Slam title and a famous series whitewash over Australia.

As a result, commentators now look upon the future positively and are already looking ahead to the 2019 World Cup with glee. This optimism is not only based on Jones’ no nonsense approach, but a settled starting XV.

While consistent squad selection has aided England, it has limited the number of opportunities to players on the fringes of the squad. As a result, competition for places is now intense.

Such competition is healthy and makes players state a powerful case for inclusion in England’s match day squad.


[tie_slide]1. Manu Tuilagi

BARNET, ENGLAND - MAY 21: Manu Tuilagi of Leicester Tigers limps around the pitch after hurting his hamstring with team mate Peter Betham after the Aviva Premiership semi final match between Saracens and Leicester Tigers at Allianz Park on May 21, 2016 in Barnet, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Although it might seem a little odd to include a player of Manu Tuilagi’s calibre on a list such as this, the big Leicester Tigers centre must not only continue to do what he does best, but remain injury free.

Indeed, as England’s backline has had a balanced feel about it since Owen Farrell took ownership of the 12 jersey, Tuilagi faces the added challenge of convincing Jones to abandon his dual playmaker approach and opt for a more direct style.

However his injury record remains the most pertinent issue.


[tie_slide]2. Ben Te’o

England Media Access

Although Ben Te’o was catapulted into the England reckoning after signing for the Worcester Warriors, it is not yet known whether or not he will make the step up to international level.

Few doubt his ability with ball in hand, but his defence was exposed on a number of occasions while playing with Leinster.

Like Tuilagi therefore, Te’o needs to hit the ground running if he is to ask Jones the right questions.


[tie_slide]3. Tom Youngs

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 29: Tom Youngs of Leicester prepares to throw the ball during the Aviva Premiership match between Leicester Tigers and Bath at Welford Road on November 29, 2015 in Leicester, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

If competition for places in midfield is intense, hooker is on a whole other level.

As Captain, Dylan Hartley has his spot nailed down, with Jamie George, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Tom Youngs battling for a place on the bench.

However, Youngs must first see off the impressive Harry Thacker at Leicester, before even considering getting back into Jones’ match day squad.


[tie_slide]4. George Ford

France v England - International Match
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Although George Ford suffered a tough campaign last season, he found form during England’s three match tour of Australia.

This may have had to do with the fact that he was playing in a Bath side short on confidence, and the Australian tour was a way for Ford to escape the turmoil at The Rec.

Indeed, despite being dropped for the opening test against the Wallabies, the Bath fly half immediately brought balance to England’s back line when he replaced Luther Burrell during the early stages.

Therefore Ford is likely to retain his place at fly half, alongside Owen Farrell at inside centre. Nevertheless, Ford will have to maintain his form if he is to keep a resurgent Manu Tuilagi out of the England team.


[tie_slide]5. Danny Cipriani

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 31: Danny Cipriani of England looks on after the England XV v Barbarians match at Twickenham Stadium on May 31, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

After being left out of Eddie Jones’ EPS squad for the Autumn internationals, Danny Cipriani would have beeen forgiven for thinking that his international prospects had slipped away.

However his move to Wasps could yet see Cipriani force Jones’ hand in the future. At 28 years of age, the playmaker still has a lot to offer, but Cipriani will first have to improve his accuracy from the kicking tee.



Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena


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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.