Less than a year out from Rugby World Cup 2015, it seems England’s most debatable position is out wide on the wings where nobody has been able to hold down the position. Wingers have come and gone, and full backs and centres have been given a chance but we are still no closer to knowing who will start on the wings this time next year.
With that in mind, and rugby tickets for the World Cup selling fast, here are my top 10 wing options ranked in descending order;
The Northampton Saints winger had a breakthrough season last year and looks capable of playing at the very top level. His lack of international experience is likely to count against him but there’s no doubting that he’s likely to receive an England call-up sooner rather than later.
The Leicester man has had a torrid time with injuries over the last couple of seasons which has really slowed down his progress. If he can hit an injury free period during this season and get back to the form he showed when fit last season then he has at least an outside shot of making the World Cup squad.
Lancaster has shown an interest in Nowell already, deploying the Exeter Chiefs man on the wing during England’s Six Nations campaign earlier this year. Although Nowell failed to shine on the international stage he didn’t struggle too much either so could be in with a shot.
May managed to retain his place on the wing during England’s tour of New Zealand after a mixed Six Nations campaign. Although he still looks a little frail in defence there’s no doubting that he has bags of pace and an ability to ghost players, he now just needs to use it to go forwards.
Whilst Wade is likely to be a popular choice for a spot on one of England’s wings concerns must still remain over his ability in defence. If deployed during the World Cup Wade would likely find himself facing up to giant Welshman George North so may find himself struggling, but as an impact player Wade has a real X Factor ball in hand.
Personally I think Watson deserves to at least be in the England squad next year, if not starting. His lack of experience will count against him but he looks to be the real deal and his ability to cover both wing and full back could see him jump ahead of others in the pecking order.
Ashton may be far from everybody’s favourite player but there’s no doubting his ability to sniff out the try line. Questions will continue to be raised over his defence, however there are few in England right now who have the same ability to score tries.
Rokoduguni may just be the answer to England’s prayers. The Fijian born winger offers a solid option both in attack and defence and has proven he is capable of playing consistently in the Premiership. His power and pace could be a key asset to help get England through tough defences during the World Cup.
For me Strettle simply has to go to the World Cup next year barring a catastrophic drop off in form or an injury. Over the last 18 months he has proven to be one of the most deadly finishers in the Premiership which is something England are seriously lacking in at the moment.
At this moment in time Yarde looks like the most likely of all England’s wingers to start during the World Cup next year. He has pace, power and an ability to get through tight defences whilst for the most part being solid in defence. He now just needs a consistent run in the side in order to settle into England’s style of play.
Who would you select on the wings for England?