With Stuart Lancaster naming his 42-man squad this lunchtime, here are five players who must travel on the five match tour to South Africa this summer:
It has been a turbulent season for the Harlequins scrum-half, but having cut out the alcohol and convinced Lancaster that the past is behind him, Care is ready to be part of the England setup once more. The timing could not be better – since the decision to fix his career Care’s form has been exceptional, the player himself admitting that he feels fitter than ever. Lee Dickson impressed in the Six Nations but his shirt is by no means guaranteed, offering Care a shot at redemption.
Youngs may have never started at Premiership match at hooker – his last start came at inside centre in March 2008 – but England are short of talent in the number 2 shirt with George Chuter and Lee Mears the wrong side of 30. Dylan Hartley will return from suspension for the tour, but Youngs is an exciting prospect who has been learning his trade patiently whilst retaining the dynamism and speed that saw him initially start his career in midfield. The tour would be more about him gaining experience rather than starting against the Springboks, but his development is crucial looking forward to 2015.
After time with the England squad during the Six Nations, Launchbury looks set to follow in the footsteps of his Wasps predecessors Joe Worsley, Lawrence Dallaglio and Tom Rees by becoming part of the England squad this summer. A superb athlete with a brilliant work rate, Launchbury’s performances for Wasps in a poor season have been a rare positive despite being out injured for a large chunk of the Spring. With Courtney Lawes, Tom Croft and Tom Wood all missing from the tour through injury, Launchbury has big shoes to fill.
20-year old Wade missed three months of the season with a groin injury, but that didn’t stop him scoring 9 tries in the Aviva Premiership, with 13 in all competitions, marking him out as one of the deadliest finishers in the English game. Much like Tom Youngs, the inclusion of Wade on this tour will be more for experience than facing the Boks, but the test is whether Wade can belie his size at Test level as he has so far in the Premiership. If he can, England will have uncovered another lethal weapon to add into their armoury.
Another young star whose season has been riddled with injury, Joseph has shown over the last few months since his return just how effective he can be in the midfield. The London Irish outside centre has a sidestep and turn of pace that will lead him to succeed at any level and is a major contrast to the power of Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi. Having worked closely with Mike Catt over the last few seasons, the England attack coach knows better than anyone the attacking threat Joseph offers. Now is his time to show the world what he can do.
Who do you want to see involved in the England squad? Let us know in the comments.
by Ben Coles