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The England ‘I Can’t Believe He’s Not Been Picked!’ XV

Every England fan has been there. Whenever a squad is announced, there are always a few players that a supporter would like to see included but is sad to see them missing out.

To Eddie Jones’ credit, he has done a superb job of balancing youth with experience, raw talent with reliability and consistency. Yet even when the Australian is selecting excellent squads there are still a few names conspicious by their absence.

We put together a XV made up of those players who for many should be in every England squad but just seem to always miss out.

The England ‘I Can’t Believe He’s Not Been Picked!’ XV

1) Alex Waller

Come rain or shine, in both a literal and metaphorical sense, loosehead Waller has been at the heart of everything good about Northampton Saints.

Waller was celebrating his 200th cap for Saints last weekend, and the Kettering-born player has been a loyal servant to his club.

However, despite his consistent form for the entirety of his professional career he is still uncapped and is looking unlikely to change that situation any time soon with Eddie Jones having not selected him for any squads since he took over in January, not even in the Saxons tour last summer.

2) Harry Thacker

The men in white are very lucky to have increasing depth to choose from at hooker, with captain Dylan Hartley and Saracens’ Jamie George usually making the 23, and Wasps’ Tommy Taylor and Exeter Chiefs’ Luke Cowan-Dickie in the extended squad.

However, Leicester’s Harry Thacker has wonderful handling abilities and distribution skills, and had an excellent run of form last season. Yet the youngster could not secure a place even in the Saxons squad last summer.

His clubmate and rival Tom Youngs is another player that has not impressed Jones, although he did get a spot in an England training squad earlier in the year.

3) Kieran Brookes

Eddie Jones has ignored the Northampton Saints prop in favour of untested younger players like Paul Hill and Kyle Sinckler, plus relying on the older head of Dan Cole.

However, back in 2015 Brookes was in the form of his life and looked to be establishing himself as England’s first choice tighthead before injury struck.

For some, it will be a surprise he cannot get a look in for his country at the moment but if the Saints man can find his form of old he will start to genuinely challenge those currently ahead of him.

4) Graham Kitchener

A lot of Leicester Tiger fans will be both delighted and disappointed that Kitchener is still uncapped: on the one hand it means he can continue to play for his club during international windows, but on the other side it is disheartening that a player of his consistency cannot get international recognition.

Unfortunately for Kitchener, England are arguably the world leaders in second row depth with four world class locks in Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury, plus others like Dave Attwood and Charlie Ewels.

5) Ed Slater

Slater must be one of the few players in the world to have captained his country and yet remain uncapped. He led England to a victory over Canterbury Crusaders in 2014 on their tour of New Zealand, but has always been on the cusp of test selection without ever actually getting there.

Injuries at the worst times haven’t helped his cause, but some supporters will feel he has been hard done by in the past.

6) Dave Ewers

An integral player for Exeter Chiefs, Ewers has put in some truly exceptional performances for his club but is yet to be recognised at test level.

But like the second row pairing here, Ewers is playing at a time when England have significant options at blindside or number eight.

7) Matt Kvesic

When this writer spoke to James Haskell recently, the England flanker made his thoughts clear about the media’s obsession with ‘openside’ flankers, but a number of supporters have been vocally calling for Gloucester flanker Kvesic’s inclusion in the England team for a long time.

Kvesic is more of a maestro at winning turnovers at the breakdown than any other English player, but he has only one won cap under Eddie Jones so far, as a replacement during the men in white’s win over Wales in May.

Sam Underhill is another player that seems unlikely to win any caps any time soon, although for entirely different reasons.

8) Thomas Waldrom

Yes, Exeter Chiefs number eight Waldrom is 33 years old, but Thomas The Tank cannot stop scoring for his club and is a pivotal player for the Chiefs.

Despite this, Eddie Jones has called up Billy Vunipola, Nathan Hughes, Jack Clifford, Teimana Harrison and Josh Beaumont ahead of him. It’s very likely that the New Zealand-born back rower will add to his 4 caps.

9) Dan Robson

Since signing for Wasps young scrum half Robson has been a revelation, even keeping capped England international Joe Simpson out of the team.

However, Eddie Jones refuses to look beyond his two 9s in Ben Youngs and Danny Care, but the upcoming Lions tour to New Zealand may hand Robson his chance when England head to Argentina for what is likely to be a two test series.

10) Danny Cipriani

One of England’s best attacking-minded players, Cipriani is well down the pecking order for England, even missing out to Saracens youngster Alex Lozowski in recent squad announcements.

Although the former Sale Sharks fly-half rejoined his old club Wasps for guaranteed European Champions Cup rugby, Eddie Jones seems settled with his choices of George Ford and Owen Farrell.

11) Semesa Rokoduguni

The Bath winger did get his second cap this autumn, this time against the country of his birth after a 2 year wait, but was then promptly dropped once more.

There are three things certain in life: death, taxes and Rokoduguni topping the stat counts every week in the Premiership and Champions Cup. He is a consistent performer and a brilliant finisher, but frustratingly for fans he is often ignored at international level.

12) Kyle Eastmond

The wee man from Oldham formed a brilliant trio with both George Ford and Jonathan Joseph during his time at Bath, but the former St Helens league player moved to Wasps this year in the hope of pushing for further England honours.

Instead, Eddie Jones has opted to continue to keep fly-half Owen Farrell as a second five-eighth, with Eastmond yet to feature in any of his squads. Injuries haven’t helped the player’s cause, but his supporters will be hoping to see him gain some kind of recognition in 2017.

13) Sam James

With England’s increasing depth in the centres Sale Sharks’ Sam James has been unlucky not to be given an opportunity at senior level for his country, although he did make it onto the Saxons tour last summer.

If his club form continues to improve he will still need to find a way to push ahead of some serious talent in Jonathan Joseph, Elliot Daly and Joe Marchant.

14) Christian Wade

A Lions tourist but stuck on a solitary England cap, 25 year old Wade has been an outstanding performer for his club Wasps his entire career, but always seems to fall foul of the national team’s selectors.

He will be hoping that after his hat-trick heroics against Bath last weekend that he can kick on and make 2017 his year.

15) Alex Goode

One of the most consistent performers in European domestic rugby, Goode continues to be ignored at international level in favour of Harlequins fullback Mike Brown.

Although he is a player that divides fans’ opinions, many would like to see him given more opportunities for his country.

Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena

Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team. If you would like to join the team, drop us an email at write@punditarena.com.

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