Martin Johnson is set to name his England squad for the RBS Six Nations at 9.30 tomorrow morning. We’ll have the details here as soon as the news breaks, but there are a few players I’d like to see feature.
Realistically, with the Rugby World Cup now just months away, those not involved in this year’s Six Nations are unlikely to feature in New Zealand. This makes Johnno’s announcement particularly important, and here are a few suggestions to help him get it right.
An outstanding performance for Gloucester against Exeter at the weekend could prove very timely for the perennially unfortunate Sinbad. Injuries have blighted his career and although it seems as though he’s been around for ever, he’s still only 28 and could be just what England needs.
He’s exceptionally quick and elusive and highly dangerous in open play, adding that spark that England have often lacked. He’s not shy in defence either, and would provide cover for both wing and centre. Now is the time to get him back in the England setup and see if he can take the World Cup by storm.
The latest of the Tuilagi clan to be making waves is 19-year-old Manu, and he’s eligible to play for England on the basis that he has lived in the country for more than three years.
Johnno is obviously looking for some ballast in the England midfield, and there’s no denying that Tuilagi is a massive unit. He’s completely untested at international level, he has only had a few outings for the Tigers this season and I’m slightly wary following the Lesley Vainikolo experiment – but centre is the problem position and I think it’s worth a try.
I’d be surprised if Johnno does pick Tuilagi, in which case I’d like to see Brad Barritt involved from the outset. He was called up as injury cover during the Autumn, but he’s been one of the form players in the Premiership for the last 18 months or so and deserves a place in the EPS in my view.
He’s a direct-running inside centre, and seems to break the defensive line regularly – something Shontayne Hape hasn’t yet been able to do in an England jersey – which means he should fit the Johnno gameplan.
Another player that had a brief glimpse of the England camp in November, Dowson is a phenomenal blindside flanker from the Richard Hill school of back row play. He’s always in the thick of it for Northampton and regularly makes yards with ball in hand.
The squad is a little short of classic blindsides at the moment. Tom Croft is struggling with injury, and Dowson should be next in line in my view – and given half a chance, he could make that number 6 shirt his own.
Skivington is probably a bit of a longshot for a call-up, but I’d rather see him in there than Steve Borthwick or Louis Deacon as cover after Courtney Lawes was helped from the field on Saturday.
He’s been a key figure for the Tigers this season as they’ve struggled with injuries, and completely dominated the lineout in their game against the Saints on Saturday, which might just have caught Johnno’s eye.
Who would you like to see called up to the squad tomorrow?