After what has been one of the most open and entertaining Premiership seasons in years there have been a number of English qualified players who have put their hands up for selection. Whilst many of the usual names will be involved at some point during England’s tour of New Zealand there could be a few surprises names involved, especially given players in the Premiership final won’t be available for the first test against the All Blacks.
The list omits players who have been involved in the 6 Nations or who are likely to return after injury such as Yarde, Wade, Webber, Youngs, Foden and Parling as most are guaranteed places. Instead we take a look at players who have really stepped up this season and who for some reason whether through residency, availability or loss of form haven’t been involved with England recently;
1. Michael Paterson
Lock, Sale Sharks
The Kiwi born lock is potentially one of the signings of the season after Steve Diamond persuaded him to join the Manchester based club from Cardiff Blues. Comfortable in the second or back row Paterson has been in sensational form for Sale Sharks topping tackle counts and line-out takes all season.
2. Chris Ashton
Ashton may have fallen out of favour recently with the England set-up but his try-scoring form for Saracens, particularly in this seasons Heineken Cup mean he must now be a serious contender. Doubts still remain over his defensive game however his finishing could see this overlooked.
3. Danny Cipriani
Fly Half, Sale Sharks
England’s prodigal son seems to have finally got his head down and put his undoubted talents to good use this season as he’s steered Sale to a top 6 finish. This year he has improved greatly on his perceived defensive fragility and combined this with his undoubted flair and game management ability.
4. Alex Waller
Prop, Northampton Saints
Despite Alex Corbisiero being one of Northampton Saints big name summer signings, his continued absence from the team has barely been noticed thanks mainly to the form of Alex Waller. His regular game-time for Saints mean he must be a serious contender for an England shirt sooner rather than later.
5. Steffon Armitage
Steffon Armitage seems to have hit the form of his life for Toulon this season after further developing his all round game. A scavaging openside flanker whose also an effective operator at the back of the scrum, the only black-mark over his name is the fact he currently doesn’t play his rugby in England.
6. James Haskell
Flanker, London Wasps
Haskell is one of the most experienced England players still in the Premiership yet has seen his name slide down the pecking order in recent years. Despite this his continued good form for Wasps this season means he must be a serious contender for an England recall this summer.
7. Semesa Rokodoguni
The Fijian born winger has been a powerful presence out on the Bath wing this season and could add an extra option for England ahead of next years World Cup. His form this season saw him earn a call-up to the England Saxons during the 6 Nations and his continued good form could see him go one step further this summer.
8. Kyle Eastmond
Eastmond made a name for himself last summer for England on their tour of Argentina as his blistering pace and smart lines saw him make an instant impact. He has since fallen off the radar a bit but with a full season now under his belt at Bath his threat ball in hand could see him given another chance in the Red Rose.
9. Kyle Sinckler
Young prop Sinckler has progressed to be Harlequins first choice tighthead this season and has ensured the departure of James Johnston was not as sorely felt as many expected. He still needs work on his scrummaging but given England’s lack of cover in the 3 shirt Sinckler looks more than worth a shot.
10. Ed Slater
Lock, Leicester Tigers
One area where England currently look particularly oversubscribed is in the second row, however his continued excellence for Leicester Tigers this season, particularly since taking over the captaincy means he is more than deserving of a full international call-up.
11. Sam Dickinson
Number 8, Northampton Saints
Dickinson has to be one of the best signings of the season, particularly on a pound for pound basis given his elevation from Championship side Rotherham Titans. He has been a fantastic acquisition for Saints and is more than deserving of a chance in the England first team.
12. Chris Pennell
Full Back, Worcester Warriors
Despite Worcester’s disastrous Premiership campaign this season, Pennell has been a shining light for the Warriors all year long. He faces stiff competition for the 15 shirt but had he been in a top 6 side this year you can’t help but feel he already would have been given his chance in an England shirt.
13. Matt Garvey
Garvey’s arrival from London Irish over the summer has given the Bath pack an added steeliness they had lacked in previous seasons. He may not be the flashiest of players but he does the hard work consistently well and is exactly the sort of player Stuart Lancaster likes having in his team.
14. Henry Slade
Fly Half/Centre, Exeter Chiefs
The young Chiefs fly-half finally seems to have broken through for the Devon based club this season and has already performed on the big stage against the likes of Toulon. Whilst he may not be ready to start a full international yet the experience of being around the squad would do him no harm at all.
15. Sam Hill
Centre, Exeter Chiefs
Another young Exeter player who has really stood out this season, Hill looks a really exciting prospect for the future. Again he may struggle to get in ahead of some of the more established centres in the squad but the experience of touring could be a sensible move for the future.
16. Dave Ward
Dave Ward has come back from injury and straight into form at the right time of the season for Harlequins. His ability playing in the loose has been a big asset for Connor O’Shea’s side this season and could see him given a chance.
17. Luke Wallace
Wallace has been dovetailing nicely with Harlequins and England skipper Chris Robshaw this season as the pair have created an incredibly effective partnership. Wallace provides England with the option of playing a genuine openside who also has pace to burn.
18. Mathew Tait
Full Back, Leicester Tigers
Tait has been England’s nearly man for a number of years now having been consistently hampered by injuries at crucial times. Although he is still coming back to form if he can remain injury free for the last few games of the season then he has to be in with a shout of making the trip to New Zealand.
19. Joe Simpson
Scrum Half, London Wasps
Simpson has been in or around the England squad for a number of years now but hasn’t quite managed to hold onto his place. His form in the latter half of this season though could make him a good option this summer, particularity if one of England’s first choice fly halves is unavailable for the first test due to the Premiership final.
20. Calum Clark
Flanker, Northampton Saints
Clark wasn’t far off an England call-up a couple of years ago but his indiscipline and resultant ban saw him overlooked for England selection. He has got his head down over the last couple of years though and now looks to be in with a shout of international selection.
21. Will Fraser
Fraser has been another player consistently hampered by injury over the last couple of seasons and is likely to miss out again unfortunately after picking up a foot injury. However should Lancaster wish to gamble Fraser has shown enough promise already to be worth a shot should he be fit for this summers tour.
22. Jamie Elliott
Winger, Northampton Saints
Young Saints winger Jamie Elliott has been one of the finds of the season after progressing to a first team regular this year. His continued good form for a high-flying Northampton side could see him grab one of the spots on England’s plane to New Zealand this summer.
23. Jamie George
Given continued concerns over England’s potential back-up for Dylan Hartley at hooker Saracens number 2 Jamie George looks ready to make the step-up to international level. He has been rotating with Schalk Brits all season to great effect and looks to have a big future ahead of him.
Who would you take to New Zealand this summer?