Alongside Sam Hill at Outside Centre it’s difficult to see past Wasps’ Elliot Daly, the 23 year old recently played 2 Champions Cup games against England’s current 13 Jonathan Joseph and made him second best in most situations, trotting for 1 try from a Bath handling error and dropping a goal to boot. Allied to Daly’s ability to keep a scoreboard ticking in open play he as that most prized of assets in an International back, a howitzer of a boot from the tee and can make 50+ metre kicks look easy. Daly’s Head Coach at Wasps certainly thinks he should be first choice for England, at the weekend Dai Young was quoted as saying Daly is “a cert” for the next England squad. At scrum half Jones has a tricky decision to make and while it’s difficult to pinpoint what sort of 9 he’d prefer to select it easy to seperate England’s op[tions at 9 into 2 individual categories, one’s who can run and ones who control a game. If Jones is after the latter and wants a 9 who already has a rapport with his 8 and 10 then another Saracen Richard Wigglesworth may well get the call as he already knows both Farrell (they’ve both been at Saracens since 2010) and incumbent 8 Billy Vunipola (Jones picked the 18+ stone David Lyons when he coached Australia, so he’s not looking for a Ryan Kankowski type number 8). Wigglesworth’s cultured left boot also compliments Farrell’s right foot well. Other options who will be considered by the new management team are the speedster’s Ben Youngs or Danny Care, the even speedier Joe Simpson who probably provides his 10 with better service than the former 2 options and those in the know say that Exeter Chiefs number 9 Will Chudley has the best all round game in the position so England are certainly not short of options.
Fullback is a very interesting decision for Jones and co. Mike Brown came out and said he’d lost trust in his England teammates post RWC so how the players and coaches respond to that sort of revelation will be fascinating, obviously if they want a controversial and outspoken number 15 then Brown is obviously the front runner but Bath’s Anthony Watson and Exeter Chief Jack Nowell are both very exciting runner’s when they enter the backline and Ben Foden is regarded as one of the stronger defensive fullbacks in the game and has still got the pace to leave most defenders in his wake when he attacks. Saracens Alex Goode is in a particularly good run of form at the moment too and his footballing ability allows to act as an auxillary 10 or 12 in case of emergency which is always appealing to a coach.
With regards to the new look Forwards (and glossing over the RFU’s absolutely shambolic hiring of a coach without first approaching the English club who already employed him) it’s difficult to imagine that Saracens successful start to the season won’t once again large loom in the management team’s thoughts. However the stand out English loose head prop in recent times has to be Nick Auterac. Another 23 year old, Auterac has only been involved in 39 senior matches in his fledgling career but 26 of those games have ended in wins, 19 of which have come since he joined Bath (from Saracens) in 2014. Whilst Bath’s scrum hasn’t been particularly dominant so far this season Auterac is always busy around the pitch and can be an effective ball carrier as is Mako Vunipola of Saracens who may well be the second choice.
Hooker is again a rather controversial position with the shadow that cast Dylan Hartley casts over proceedings, if, as has been largely rumoured he’s to be named skipper then Jones must be expecting him to be available more than he’s banned. The strangest thing about naming a front rower as Captain is that hardly any front row players are on the field for the full 80 minutes, so the vice Captain will be as important as the skipper (maybe the replacement Hooker will also be the vice Captain). Hartley is the stand out option for the 2 shirt, largely because he’s sheer size greatly aids scrummaging, Tom Youngs who was a Stuart Lancaster favourite is around a stone lighter than Hartley and about 3 inches shorter too. Mike Haywood who has been filling in for Hartley in Northampton colours could be in with an outside chance of an England place because he’s been particularly impressive but he is even lighter, almost 2 stone lighter than Hartley. Bath’s Rob Webber could be in Jones’ thoughts and he’s bigger than Hartley weighing in at over 18 stone, another Exeter Chief Luke Cowan-Dickie was highly thought of by the previous management and he’s 2 pounds heavier than Hartley but like all of the options for Hartley’s backup his line out throwing can be quite erratic so Steve Borthwick’s already got something to focus on. Conversely Tight head prop is an area where England seem to be particularly blessed, both Dan Cole and Kieran Brookes both appear to be playing well enough to make an impact at International level whether Jones will favour the mobile Cole or the 19+ stone monster that is Brookes is impossible to say. Lock forward is probably the are where England have the most strength in depth with Attwood, Launchbury, Lawes, Slater, Parling all established Internationals and youngsters like Charlie Matthews, Dom Barrow all pushing for a place but there are 2 incredibly prominent faces pushing for recognition in North London in the shape of the 6 feet 6 inch 25 year old George Kruis and the 6 feet 5 21 year old Wunderkind Maro Itoje. Kruis has played in 10 Test matches so far for England but started just 4 of those and Itoje is yet to feature for the senior International side although he was called into the pre-RWC training camp alongside Elliot Daly.