Now that the dust has settled on today’s Lions squad announcement, Eddie Jones and his England coaching panel can start to work out which players they will take on their two-Test tour of Argentina this summer.
Previously, Jones has spoken of not resting big name players until the autumn, so it is very likely he will take all his major names with him this June.
With this in mind and Jones’ policy of consistency in selection, we think this is the team that may line up for the first Test in the summer:
1) Ellis Genge
With Joe Marler and Mako Vunipola both on tour, Leicester loosehead Genge has a chance to build on his improving club form and show his trademark power and tenacity at Test level. Tests against Argentina in Santa Fe and San Juan will be fantastic for his development.
2) Dylan Hartley
Hartley will be disappointed to miss out on Lions selection, particularly when his team mate Jamie George has leapfrogged him in the hooker pecking order, but he is a fantastic leader and will want to be at the forefront of England’s charge in South America.
3) Paul Hill
With Warren Gatland opting to surprise everyone and take both Dan Cole and youngster Kyle Sinckler to New Zealand, Jones will need to turn to a new player to shore up the scrum. Kieran Brookes and Paul Hill are next in line, but both have had inconsistent seasons for Northampton Saints.
4) Joe Launchbury
A shocking omission from the Lions squad and one of the best players in this year’s Six Nations, Launchbury will use these Tests as a reminder to Gatland exactly what he offers at Test level and will surely be on standby should any of the locks pick up injuries in New Zealand.
5) Charlie Ewels
With three England locks on the Lions tour, an opportunity has opened up for Bath second row Ewels to get his first start for his country. He impressed off the bench previously and could well come into his own in Argentina.
6) Chris Robshaw
An unfortunately timed injury realistically put an end to Robshaw’s Lions hopes, but Jones’ team have missed the Harlequins workhorse and the consistency he brings in his performances. He will be a key man to the side on their tour.
7) James Haskell
Again, some were surprised to see Haskell miss out on Lions selection, but his season has been disrupted by a troublesome toe injury and his form in the latter stages of the Six Nations never reached the heights of his stunning outings in 2016.
8) Nathan Hughes
With Billy Vunipola off with the Lions, Wasps number eight Hughes has the chance to impress Eddie Jones further as he continues to develop as a Test level back rower.
9) Danny Care
Ben Youngs did well to secure one of only three scrum half spots in the Lions squad, but this opens the door for rival Care to show what he can offer to the men in white starting rather than as an impact ‘finisher’.
10) George Ford
Perhaps unlucky to miss selection for the Lions, Ford will use the Argentina tour to display the full array of his attacking talents. At the top of his game he is a micro-genius going forward, but he does need to address some weaknesses in his defence.
11) Jonny May
One of the fastest players in the game, May could be lethal if given any space against the Pumas – plus he is bound to be on the standby list for New Zealand should any of the wingers drop out.
12) Henry Slade
With Ben Te’o’s surprise inclusion in the Lions squad and Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell and Jonathan Joseph all making the 41 man list, Eddie Jones has no choice but to experiment with yet another England centre partnership. Exeter’s Slade is now in pole position to start.
13) Joe Marchant
In many ways he is a like-for-like replacement for Jonathan Joseph, so do not see the uncapped Harlequins centre make his first start for his country in Argentina this summer. Electric pace coupled with glittering footwork means Marchant could pose the Pumas all sorts of issues.
14) Denny Solomona
Solomona has been causing waves in English rugby since switching codes from league, and the talented winger looks set to earn his first cap in Argentina since qualifiying for the men in white on residency.
15) Mike Brown
Fullback is one position England desperately need to develop some depth in, but with Brown not making the Lions cut he will almost certainly start at 15 for his country once more.
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena
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