May has been deployed as a 13 recently for Gloucester, sparking rumours that Stuart Lancaster might be looking at him to fill that tricky berth for England in the Six Nations. It would certainly be a break from the normal power-based centre game that they have gone with in recent years – May is a slippery, elusive customer with genuine pace. His try against Perpignan at the weekend was an absolute beauty, as he showed good composure to gather a bouncing loose ball before streaking away on a mazy run all the way from within his own half to the whitewash. He is hitting some fine form at the perfect time, and whether on the wing or in the centre he needs to be used at some point during the Six Nations.
Ward’s meteoric rise to the Saxons squad is quite unbelievable. For so long the third choice at Harlequins behind Rob Buchanan and Joe Gray (both of whom have had Saxons recognition in that time), injuries have led to a run in the first team for the diminutive hooker and oh how he has taken his chance. His fine run of form continued against the Scarlets, where he carried 11 times, made 13 tackles without missing a single one, and beat four defenders on his way to racking up 33 running metres. If he continues in this vein, there is absolutely no reason why a call up to the full squad couldn’t be on the cards in the future.
Having a legendary centre partnership like Gordon D’Arcy and Brian O’Driscoll in front of you on the international stage can limit your opportunities, but to Marshall’s credit he is doing everything he can to force Joe Schmidt’s hand into breaking it up. Against the Tigers the Ulster centre was a beacon of direct running in midfield, and along with the imposing Nick Williams he crashed over the gain line time and time again to set up front foot ball for his province. There were several smart offloads, too, and Irish fans can be confident that there is life after D’Arcy/BOD.
Tellingly selected ahead of Mike Ross for the most important game of Leinster’s season so far, Moore is another that might be receiving the international baton at some stage soon also. Granted, the whole Leinster pack was helped here by the reckless dismissal of Ian Evans, but Moore was still a pillar of power in their front row and in the loose as the Irish juggernaut of a pack completely disintegrated an Ospreys unit that still contained several British and Irish Lions. The young tighthead, who was linked earlier in the season with a move abroad (showing his immense potential), has a bright future.
The Zimbabwe-born, England qualified back-rower has been making waves in the Premiership this season, and took his top form across the Severn Bridge at the weekend to help Exeter wrack up an impressive away victory in Cardiff, where Toulon and Glasgow have already fallen this season. Ewers was deployed on the blindisde flank on this occasion – a position he may find himself being used more and more with the arrival of Thomas Waldrom next season – but looked just as comfortable there as he has at the back of the scrum. He topped his team’s tackle chart with fifteen, and there were plenty of the powerful bursts for which he has become known. There is plenty of competition in the back-row for England, but still at the age of just 23 and already in the Saxons squad, he is certainly heading in the right direction.
By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images