As the International coaches start to confirm their Six Nations squads, Jono Frank casts his eye over recent domestic performances to identify those that might get the call-up.
After missing out in the autumn, the England full-back is looking to reassert his presence within the international frame. Northampton’s opening try demonstrated Foden’s attacking prowess; latching onto a poor clearance kick the number 15 scythed through a gap in Exeter’s defence before sending Pisi over for the first score of the afternoon. After suffering quite a serious injury to his ankle, Foden will be desperate to get more playing time under his belt. As Jim Mallinder stated, “Ben’s getting back to his best”. With the Six Nations a month away, this appeared to be the perfect start to a resurgence that will hopefully see one of England’s top full-backs challenging for a place in the international side.
Need I say more? Wade notched his ninth try of the season from a seemingly impossible situation. With a wave Bath defenders looking to crash down, the winger demonstrated his dynamic finishing ability, jinking through a gap, wriggling through another and then with strength that belies his size, holding off the final tackle and touching down. The winger has started this year like he started the season and despite England’s most recent heroics, he surely has to be firmly in contention when the Six Nations rolls around. There is a space up for contention on one of the England wings and Wade certainly stands out over the likes of Sharples and Monye.
The winger has ability in abundance, something that we always don’t get to see and this has seen him drop out of the England picture. However, this performance against a floundering Sale side showed that he is certainly not out of his depth in the international pool. A well taken first try and an intelligent grubber kick to send Hodgson for his second will serve as a cheeky nudge to Stuart Lancaster that he is still around. Still, competition is fierce and we will need to see more of the same if Strettle is to be in considered for the Six Nations. Tougher opponents will provide greater tests but the winger certainly has a point to prove.
The Welsh injury list is formidable. The Six Nations is going to provide a real test for Wales especially with the void at fly-half in light of Rhys Priestland’s injury. However, hopes will certainly be raised after this weekend’s performance by Dan Biggar, who notched all 16 of his side’s points against Zebre. With Hook also looking like a major doubt for next month, the Ospreys’ fly-half has been trying to step up to the challenge. He has stated himself that, “I’m thoroughly enjoying my rugby at the minute, I’m feeling confident”. This is something which is certainly starting to show through some consistent performances and his well taken try and reassuring kicking display against Zebre are testament to this.
At 21, Paddy Jackson looks calm, competent and creative in the Ulster number 10 jersey. A strong forward display laid the groundwork for the backs to assert themselves. Jackson was instrumental in completing his sides’ demolition of the Scarlets, of particular note was Andrew Trimble’s try as the quick passing and movement of the backs saw Jackson cut an intelligent line before feeding Trimble to go through untouched. The number 10 is a bright prospect for the future and may well feature in some capacity at the Six Nations.
By Jono Frank