Two from three for England this autumn, and most fans will be relatively happy. The pack showed that they can cut it against the best in the world, and there were encouraging performances from young starlets Billy Vunipola and (fleetingly) Marland Yarde, along with the creation of plenty of depth in the front row and engine room. That said, the backs failed to fire all series. Whatever reason that was down to, some changes need to be made for the Six Nations. Here, we look at five players that could add some much needed sparkle to the England back-line.
1. Henry Trinder
The Joel Tomkins experiment did not work. He did not look comfortable at international level, and if, as is looking likely, Manu Tuilagi does not return to fitness in time for the Six Nations, then Henry Trinder must be given a go at 13. He has dazzlingly quick feet and the pace to actually make an outside break – something we haven’t seen from an England centre for quite some time. See below for proof.
2. Christian Wade
Injury robbed him of a chance to play this autumn, and if he is fit he must be given a go come the spring. Regardless of his club form – which has been up and down this season – he has that rare ability of being able to score from almost anywhere on the pitch – in fact, the weekend England so struggled to create anything against Australia, he scored two terrific tries for Wasps. None of England’s wingers really caught the eye this autumn, so it is time for Wade to get his chance. England haven’t had a finisher this good for quite some time, and we can only hope he is given as much of a chance now as Ashton has been afforded.
3. Anthony Watson
Called into the England squad to experience the environment over the autumn, Watson is clearly someone Lancaster has his eye on for the future. And rightly so, because while Brown and Foden are both superb players, Watson brings something just a little different. He is unlikely to usurp whichever of the aforementioned two are starting come the Six Nations (that’s a debate for another time), but would be a great man to bring off the bench if things have gone a bit stale in the second half.
4. Freddie Burns
It is such a shame that he has started the season poorly at Gloucester, but Ben Morgan’s good form for England this autumn proves that actually you can do the business on the international stage even if your club form is lacking. Owen Farrell has not been able to unleash his back-line, something that Burns does very well. If Twelvetrees is the long-term option at 12, Burns should be given a chance at 10 to see if they can combine as they have on occasion for Gloucester.
5. Kyle Eastmond
The recent bad press has not painted him in a brilliant light, but there is no doubting that if England want creativity in their midfield then Eastmond is the man to provide it. If Farrell, as seems likely, is continued to be backed in the 10 shirt, then Eastmond should be given a go outside him. His natural instinct to attack and create would take a little of the pressure off Farrell, who could then focus on managing the game and kicking his goals – in a nutshell, what he does best.
Is there anyone else you’d like to see get a go in England’s back-line come the Six Nations?
By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images