With the Lions tour in full swing and the frontline players in action down in Australia, this summer provides the perfect opportunity for the younger players, or those who had previously been on the fringes, to stamp some authority on an international spot for the future. With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at a few guys that could be pushing for regular international rugby next season.
Although Argentina didn’t provide the sternest test for Stuart Lancaster’s second string there were some outstanding performers. Gloucester duo Morgan and Twelvetrees comprised two thirds of the stand-out trio that created and scored the bulk of England’s tries. It was the final piece of the jigsaw however who really took the plaudits. Despite cutting a diminutive figure, the Wasps winger was at the heart of everything, running incisive lines and displaying quick hands on two occasions to set-up two of England’s tries. With so much being made of Wade’s performances over the season, it is certainly a surprise he didn’t find his way into the first XV quicker. Hopefully the summer tour will be the catalyst which ignites his England career and sees him push on and challenge, or even overtake, the likes of Ashton and Brown.
Two starts and two tries isn’t a bad return for the young Welsh winger. Wales didn’t have it all their own way against a resilient Japan side, but in the end power and precision told as a youthful Welsh side prevailed in Osaka. Harry Robinson demonstrated his raw pace to great effect, touching down in what was an assured performance for the Cardiff Blue. With North and Cuthbert for competition it’s an important time for the winger. International experience will be vital if he is to have any chance of displacing these guys in the future. Nevertheless, he certainly has time on his side and more impressive displays will continue to add to the indomitable force of the Welsh backs.
The fly-half notched all of Ireland’s points as a young Irish side triumphed over the USA. Consistent kicking following numerous infringements turned out to be the story of the match. Madigan was assured with the boot and calm in his decision making. Credit must also go to the powerful Irish front three that put the USA forwards under severe pressure in the scrum. Following the injury to Jonny Sexton during the Six Nations, Madigan has managed to get a bit more game time under his belt. He is establishing a good platform to push the incoming Jimmy Gopperth all the way for a Leinster starting spot when the Rabo PRO 12 kicks off again.
There wasn’t a great deal to shout about for Scotland in Durban last weekend, but the performance of young Greig Tonks will have assured Scotland fans that even if injury befalls their most dangerous player – Stuart Hogg – all is not lost. Tonks, with socks rolled down and blonde hair, looks an unruly player but his pace and counter-attacking nous meant his socks were not the most noticeable thing about him. With Hogg the star of the show over the past two years Tonks will have his work cut out if he is ever to really challenge for the starting berth, but there were promising signs at least against Samoa.
By Jono Frank