In the second part of our series looking at England’s options after their 2015 World Cup debacle, we take a look at the position of winger. Below we look at the options both in the short-term (2016 Six Nations) and longer term (2019 Rugby World Cup);
Watson looks set to be a permanent fixture on the wing for the foreseeable future, however there is also a significant chance he could find himself playing at full back should Mike Brown retire before the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Until then, he has to start injury and form permitting.
Nowell has come on leaps and bounds in the last 12 months and is now one of England’s stand out options on the wing. Maybe lacks a little bit of the blistering pace others possess, but he always seems to make ground and is solid in defence. Will only get better with more experience.
Questions will remain over his competence in defence, however having bulked up somewhat recently he is looking more solid. What cannot be denied however is his ability to create something out of nothing thanks in large part to his blistering pace. Another who’s likely to be around in 2019.
Despite being given several opportunities on the wing, Yarde has so far failed to really impress in an England shirt. He does however seem to finally be settling in at Harlequins, and if he can maintain a good run of form before the 2016 Six Nations, he could find himself in the squad.
Rokoduguni was incredibly unfortunate to pick up an injury on his debut against the All Blacks, and has since fallen down the pecking order. He is still flying for Bath however and could be given a second shot, although at 28 the 2019 World Cup could possibly be a bit of a stretch.
The London Irish winger was reportedly on the cusp of an England call-up earlier this year. If he can kick on from last years performances, then there is every chance that with an injury here or there he could receive a call-up, but will likely feature for the Saxons at least in 2016.
Despite having one of the best seasons of his career, Ashton was dropped from the England squad ahead of the 2015 World Cup. At 28 it’s hard to see him wearing the Red Rose again, although a new coach coming in again may see value in having him back in the side.
Criminally overlooked by England in recent seasons, Wade has all the attacking talent to be a top class international, and has been working hard on his perceived defensive frailties. Should England opt for a more open approach, then Wade is exactly the man to bring in.
Elliott is someway off a call-up at this stage, but if he can fulfil his early promise at Northampton, he could battle his way into the squad ahead of the World Cup in 2019. He now needs to work on establishing himself in the Saints starting XV and proving himself in European competition.
The Sale Sharks winger has put in some magnificent performances over the past couple of seasons, however injuries have continually hampered his progress. If he can remain fit for longer than a few weeks, then he could be an outside bet for an England call-up.
The Quins winger is a long shot for a call-up at this stage, but he has shown early signs of promise that could see him step up. If he can secure a regular start for his club side, and continues his rapid development, 2019 is definitely a possibility.
At this stage, it looks set to be Watson and one of Nowell or May starting on the wings during the 2016 Six Nations. Beyond that we could see Watson shift to fullback and both May and Nowell starting on the wings, although expect them to be pushed hard by the likes of Wade and Rokoduguni. Keep an eye out on Addison and Elliott however over the next couple of years.