The young Welsh fly-half is really starting to make waves in the East Midlands. Indeed, with Freddie Burns set to arrive at the Tigers next season, there is no guarantee the incoming Englishman will be first choice at Welford Road, such has been Williams’ prominence in the Tigers’ recent victories. Against the Saints he ran the show magnificently, bringing dangerous runners the likes of Tuilagi and Goneva into the game, while also ending with a 100% kicking success rate. With more uncertainty surrounding the Welsh no.10 jersey than any other, surely Williams must travel with the squad to South Africa this summer and get a chance to prove himself on the biggest stage?
It’s always risky including Danny Cipriani in these articles, but there’s no doubt that his increased maturity and the consistency that has come with it has played a major role in Sale’s unexpected charge for the play-offs. There was nothing too flash about his performance against Bath on Friday night, but he pinned the hosts back, brought his big outside runners into the game and over the gainline, and kicked his goals. And while there was nothing to suggest he is ready to leapfrog Farrell and Ford in the England reckoning (even if he did comprehensively outplay the latter), if he can keep up this form for the rest of the season then there is no reason he won’t be in contention for a squad spot soon.
The young centre has recently returned from injury and is wasting no time in reminding Warren Gatland that his options extend far beyond Roberts, Davies and Williams. Against Ulster there were several glimpses of the quality that has got many a Cardiff Blues fan excited, as Allen carried the ball strongly over the gainline. He was also solid in defence, including one vital tackle as Ulster threatened to break out in the second half. If he can stay fit, he should travel with Wales to South Africa this summer.
England hardly lack for back-row options at the moment, and Jackson Wray is certainly throwing his name into the ‘promising youngsters’ hat. He is unlikely to get a look-in before the 2015 RWC, but if he keeps performing as he did against Wasps at the weekend then he will likely play some sort of role for England in the future. He showed great awareness for his try to track centre Duncan Taylor after his break, and no shortage of pace to outgun the fullback to the line. Can play both six and eight, which will help his cause.
It has not been a happy season for Ben Youngs, who has freely admitted that he has struggled for form since the Lions tour. In recent weeks, however, he has looked someway back to his best. Against the Saints one moment summed this up best – picking up quick ball from the base of a ruck on the five metre line, he rapidly assessed where the space was before fizzing out a pass off his left hand to Anthony Allen who just had to flop over the line. It is that sort of speed of service and vision that will play himself back into the England reckoning.
By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images