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The American Who Would Make It Into England’s First XV

TOULON, FRANCE - OCTOBER 15: Chris Wyles of Saracens breaks clear to score their third try during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between RC Toulon and Saracens at Stade Felix Mayol on October 15, 2016 in Toulon, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

With England experiencing an injury crisis on the wing, for the first time there is an American rugby player who would get in the Red Rose’s team.

Eddie Jones may be without both Anthony Watson and Jack Nowell for the autumn internationals, but just as noteworthy is that one of the form wingers in England is an American.

Chris Wyles, who led the United States at the 2015 World Cup, has had an excellent couple of seasons at Saracens, and is making the most of both David Strettle’s exit to Clermont Auvergne and Chris Ashton’s disciplinary problems.

Now 33, Wyles has matured into a fine wine. On form, he would hypothetically get into Eddie Jones’ back three.

Wyles is one of the most underrated players in the Premiership, if not in Europe. He has a fine all-round game, which includes particularly good kicking skills and running lines. And as he has shown for Saracens for a number of years now, provided with the opportunity, he will be clinical in front of the try line.

Wyles showed his finishing skills at the Allianz at the weekend with a classy early score against Leicester Tigers. The 33-year-old had limited space, but timed his run off Jackson Wray’s pass perfectly to sprint past Mathew Tait for a touchdown.

Wyles’ score against Tigers made it three in three weeks for the Connecticut-born wide man, who also crossed the whitewash against Scarlets and Toulon in the European Champions Cup. With tries against top-quality opposition, Wyles is proving his ability beyond doubt.

Jonny May looks set to feature on one wing for England, and it seems as though Marland Yarde and Semesa Rokoduguni are fighting over the remaining berth. But with Yarde hardly setting things ablaze for Harlequins, and doubts remaining over Rokoduguni’s defensive work, the Saracen would have had a fair case for selection, were he eligible.

But here lies the first of the ironies in the tale. Wyles would have qualified for England through his parents, had he not opted to represent the land of his birth.

Secondly, it was Eddie Jones who ignited his career. When director of rugby at Saracens, Jones brought Wyles to the club after having been impressed by his performances for the USA at the 2007 World Cup in France (where Jones was working with Jake White’s South Africa). Since then, Wyles has grown into one of the senior men at the club.

Samu Manoa in his Northampton pomp may have had a strong claim, but this really is the first time an American would make it into the England starting XV.

Daniel Rey, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

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