England ‘Bolters’ XV for the World Cup

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With the world cup less than a year away now and the Premiership more competitive than ever there have been a handful of players who have put their hand up for selection; many of these players we would never have considered at the start of the season as possible England internationals. So could any of this team of possible bolters force their way into the set up for the World Cup?

15. Eliot Daly

Playing at Outside centre this season Daly’s flexibility makes him an excellent and versatile option as a squad member. With obvious pace, having played on the wing, he has a monstrous boot, kicking penalties in his own half, and as a centre excellent distribution.

Chances of making the world cup: 6/10 due to his versatility in covering centre, wing and full back.

14. Alex Lewington

Scoring a hat-trick against Saracens’ renowned wolf pack defence is no mean feat. The Leicester academy product has really found form at London Irish, tormenting his former club last weekend and his early form and try scoring ability are a great addition to the abundance of wing competition.

Chances of making the world cup: 4/10 his fast start will need to continue as will scoring tries against the best, but a few injuries and he could be in the mix.

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13.  Sam Hill

Hill can play at 12 or 13 and has really impressed partnering Slade for Exeter so far this season. A strong powerful crash ball runner, he also has deft handling and good feet for someone his size.

Chances of making the world cup: 6/10 at only 21 Hill may be one for the future, while on a steep curve of improvement his chances depend how well Exeter can maintain their early season form. Although by 2019, if he continues as he is, he should definitely be in the Red Rose his current form certainly merits a place in the Saxons.

12. Sam Burgess

If anyone can convert to union and break into a world cup squad in less than a year it may be Sam Burgess. Although there is so much hype about his imminent arrival he seems able to cope with pressure and it only really depends how quickly he adapts as to whether he makes the world cup or not.

Chances of making the world cup: 7/10 his skill set and strength make the prospect of Burgess playing for England mouth watering, it only depends how long it takes for him to learn his trade at Bath, with Kyle Eastmond in such great form he will have a task getting into the Bath team first of all.

11. Semesa Rokoduguni

Rokoduguni has been in scintillating form this season scything defences in two with his pace, power and elusive running. He should certainly be in the fold for the Autumn Internationals as joint top try scorer so far this season and his defensive abilities making him one of the most complete wingers in the league.

Chances of making the world cup: 9/10 Already a Saxon he should certainly be in the EPS for the autumn and if he can nail down one of the wing berths up for grabs it will be his to lose come the world cup

10. Henry Slade

Another versatile player who has shone for Exeter this season, he and Hill have been a dangerous combination. He featured for England against the Barbarians where he stopped Rene Ranger in his tracks so defence would be no problem with the big runners down the 10 channel. His distribution is sublime as is his footwork and he possesses a glorious left boot.

Chances of making the world cup: 8/10 Also only 21 he has youth on his side, alongside his versatility, which makes him an excellent option as part of the England squad. Like Hill if he continues in this form he should certainly be a full international come 2019 but his current form could mean that first cap comes much sooner.

9. Dan Robson

The Gloucester scrum-half must be good to force Greig Laidlaw onto the bench against London Welsh. He is a livewire with quick distribution to match his electric pace. As well as possessing a solid box kick he has great awareness always looking for the quick tap, which cut London Welsh open on several occasions.

Chances of making the world cup: 6/10 Behind Care, Dickson and Youngs, Robson should certainly make the Saxons squad this autumn and will only be an injury away from forcing his way into contention, especially if he can show up the England incumbents this season.

8. Jack Clifford

The very promising Number 8 has found himself on the Quins bench this season and while he will find opportunities hard to come by with Nick Easter the incumbent he is learning from one of the best. One of the more unlikely players were he to make the world cup he has plenty of potential shown representing England at junior level and in Sevens.

Chances of making the world cup: 3/10 Would need to force his way into the Quins starting team and a lot of injuries in the England squad but certainly will be knocking on the door in the future.

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7. Matt Kvesic

Seen as one of the main challengers to Robshaw when touring Argentina, he has suffered in recent times with injury and Gloucester’s poor form last season. If he can get back to his poaching, tackling best he could make a late charge into world cup contention.

Chances of making the world cup: 5/10 Has the England captain in his way while others have leap-frogged him in the pecking order, such as James Haskell and Will Fraser. He would need to recapture past form and with an injury or some sublime displays could find himself in the world cup squad.

6. Callum Clark

Clark has been in a few of Lancaster’s England squads but through injury and suspension never played. Now he has rectified his indiscipline he is again part of a dominant Saints pack, able to play at 6, 7 or in the engine room at his best he is an excellent dogged player.

Chances of making the world cup: 6/10 Clark could find himself in the mix with his versatility, while having coached him at Leeds, Lancaster is a fan of him.

5. Stuart Hooper

The Bath captain is in sublime form and was supporting every break they made against Northampton. He has really blossomed into an excellent leader at Bath forming a superb partnership alongside Dave Attwood in the second row.

Chances of making the world cup: 4/10 Despite some great performane second row is one of England’s strongest areas with his club partner Attwood likely to get the nod ahead of him, and even Attwood is behind Launchbury, Lawes and Parling while fit. If you add Graham Kitchener and a fit Ed Slater to the mix it shows how fierce second row competition is.

4. James Gaskell

Gaskell seems to have been around for an age now yet he is still only 24. The former Sale captain has been reinvigorated by a move to Wasps and has become part of an improving pack. Gaskell’s ability to play across the back row and in the second row makes him an excellent option, while he has played for an England XV against the Barbarians and featured for the Saxons so has plenty of experience.

Chances of making the world cup: 5/10 with such heavy competition in the back row and second row, Gaskell will need injuries ahead of him alongside his continued good form if he is to force his way into the world cup team.

3. Kieran Brookes

Capped on the Summer tour to New Zealand Brookes is a strong ball carrier and his scrummaging has come on greatly. A return to Newcastle from Leicester has seen him improve with regular game time and if he continues Brookes could see himself in the Red Rose more often.

Chances of making the world cup: 8/10 With the lack of tighthead cover and with the prolonged injury to Dan Cole he could find himself in contention for a place on the bench if not definitely for the world cup squad.

2. Luke Cowan-Dickie

The young hooker is seen as one of the most promising around. Unlucky not to feature against the Crusaders in the summer due to a knee injury if he can stay fit and break into the Exeter team he could be an outside shot for the world cup with his powerful carrying and nifty turn of pace.

Chances of making the world cup: 6/10 Cowan-Dickie has a decent chance of making the squad due to the number of injuries England hookers seem to be plagued by. Hooker seems one of the least competitive positions with Dylan Hartley,  Rob Webber and Tom Youngs the usual candidates, Cowan-Dickie will be competing with Jamie George for a possible spot if injury should rule anyone out.

1. Nick Auterac

The fact that Saracens were so hacked off to lose Auterac to Bath this summer shows how highly he is rated. He added gusto to a stuttering Bath pack at Franklins Gardens he scored the try that got them back in the game. Auterac is a powerful scrummager and good with ball in hand so if he can force his way into the starting jersey for Bath his rapid rise could accelerate even further.

Chances of making the world cup: 6/10 Loosehead is a strong position for England, unfortunately Corbisiero and Vunipola have had injury troubles, so Auterac has a long shot but need to be in the starting line up for Bath to really challenge for a place. Another at 21 he will definitely be someone to challenge for an England jersey for the next few years.

Other players such as Jamie George and Ollie Devoto also spring to mind as possible ‘bolters’ for the world cup so who, if any of these long shots, do you think can make it into the England team and challenge for a place in the World cup team in 12 months time? Who have I missed that you’d like to break into the team come 2015?

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