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Potential England Squad For The Summer Tour Of Australia

BAGSHOT, ENGLAND - AUGUST 10: Luke Cowan-Dickie looks on during the England training session held at Pennyhill Park on August 10, 2015 in Bagshot, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England’s last ‘proper’ tour of the southern hemisphere was back in 2012 when they went to South Africa.

The tour of New Zealand is discounted as – due to the farce over the Premiership final clashing with England’s tour – essentially two different squads were sent over. In 2013 England sent a Lionless squad to Argentina and so was not a first-string side either.

On that occasion, England sent out a squad of 42 players.

Using this number as a model, here is a potential squad for the senior tour to Australia this summer:

Props: Marler, Vunipola, Mullan, Cole, Brookes, Hill

Hookers: Hartley, George, Cowan-Dickie, Haywood

Locks: Kruis, Launchbury, Lawes, Itoje, Attwood, Symons

Back row: Robshaw, Haskell, Clifford, Kvesic, Vunipola, Beaumont, Ewers

Scrum halves: Youngs, Care, Simpson

Fly halves: Ford, Farrell, Cipriani

Centres: Slade, Tuilagi, Joseph, Daly, Hill, Devoto

Wings: Watson, Nowell, Yarde, Rokoduguni, May

Full-backs: Brown, Pennell

What was pleasantly surprising about selecting this squad was how easy a lot of it picked itself. The vast majority come from the existing Six Nations EPS and few of them deserve dropping. The only player that I feel doesn’t deserve to be in the senior squad is Alex Goode, who still resembles a decent club fly-half trying to make it as an international full-back.

Although he’s a smart player, he lacks the out-and-out pace and defensive qualities to make it as a fullback at the very top level. Worcester’s Chris Pennell, continuing his outstanding form this season, deserves another shot.

READING, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 07:  Chris Pennell of Worcester beats the tackle of Aseli Tikoirotuma of London Irish during the Aviva Premiership match between London Irish and Worcester Warriors at Madejski Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Reading, England.  (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)

Real battles for coveted starting places are appearing now, with Maro Itoje making it more and more difficult for the likes of Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury, although George Kruis seems to be making the number five shirt his own. Dave Attwood deserves to come back into the reckoning and London Irish’s Matt Symons is a rare gem indeed: an English player making a success of himself in New Zealand for the Chiefs in Super Rugby before moving back to the UK. Such is his quality that only a year ago he was being touted as a potential All Black.

Moreover, young Paul Hill will continue to push to be in the side and Kieran Brookes will relish the chance to take the shirt off stalwart Dan Cole.

Dylan Hartley will likely remain as captain, but Jamie George is pushing him hard in the Six Nations and Luke Cowan-Dickie and Northampton’s Mike Haywood are two genuinely exciting prospects, whose time will come eventually.

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 01:  Mike Haywod of Northampton is tackled by Tom Johnson during the Aviva Premiership match between Northampton Saints and Exeter Chiefs at Franklin's Gardens on January 1, 2016 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The current options in the back row will continue to cause Eddie Jones nice problems, in terms of selection, and even Matt Kvesic might be given a rare chance to shine for his country.

Joe Simpson and Danny Cipriani could be handed an early chance to renew their former Wasps club partnership, with the Sale fly-half signing for the Coventry-based side for next season. A midweek side involving this 9/10 axis would be a tantalising prospect.

Henry Slade should be back in time to be involved in this tour and with Owen Farrell as a continuing stopgap inside centre and Manu Tuilagi as a long-term convert there, the summer should provide the selectors with some heated debates.

Elliot Daly and Jonathan Joseph will both attempt to sway the coaches’ minds about their suitability for the outside centre birth, and Ollie Devoto and Sam Hill provide longer term answers in the centre.

BATH, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 21:  Ollie Devoto of Bath passes the ball during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Bath and Leinster at the Recreation Ground on November 21, 2015 in Bath, England.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

There is only a slender chance that Jonny May will return for England’s summer tour, but if he is fit then he has to be included. The currently banned Chris Ashton will be available for selection once more, but now that Jones’ honeymoon period is over, with Anthony Watson and Jack Nowell growing into their roles and more and more young wingers coming through, it appears Ashton’s last hurrah may have come and gone. Players like Marland Yarde and Semesa Rokoduguni deserve their opportunities more than Saracens’ Ashton now.

Hopefully midweek fixtures will be arranged for the fringe players to push for full honours in the three-test series. Even taking the 23 involved in the tests out of the equation, there is a potentially really strong second-string team in there.

As well as this, Jones is hoping to organise an Under-23 tour to South Africa this year. If he does take an expanded squad to South Africa then this team will be severely hit by the senior tour and will be a real test of the nation’s playing resources, but nevertheless should provide some interesting discussions for fans and the media alike.

Regardless of what happens in this Six Nations, the future is already looking brighter for the Red Rose.

Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

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