Redemption, ashes, phoenix and flames are sprayed across back pages like confetti at a Grand Slam Parade, but there’s always more. Some out through injury and others just beginning to bloom, with a three test tour of Australia and beyond to consider these five players are pushing for contention.
Much has been made of Billy V atomising his way through defensive lines but as of June 27th Hughes becomes available via the residency rule and frankly he’s frightening. 6ft 4 and the heavy part of 20 Stone charging down pitches like cheat mode on Jonah Lomu rugby. His bombastic ball carrying could force a reshuffle in the back row creating a Mighty Ducks Bash Brothers alliance with Vunipola.
We’re living is a post Pocock world where everyone’s after their own scavenging 7. Sam Underhill may be that man. Born in the States to a Scottish mother then living in England he’s currently plying his trade in Wales after going to University there. Having shown he’s up to muster against top opposition it wouldn’t be outrageous to take him to Australia. He went to Cardiff university, the horrors this man’s seen can easily compare to a test match at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
A centre of gravity that could tickle a snakes tummy, he’s got England and Lions caps but under the House of Lancaster was considered defensively weak and not worth the risk. This is questionable at best, he’s playing in the most exciting back-line in the country whilst ripping it up for fun and could offer something Antony Watson can’t.
Granted the barrel chested wrecking ball’s been skirting round the the first XV but by some distance the Saracen is the form hooker in the league. Arguably England’s best 6 Nations try came through his front row run charge and off-load to Farrell against Italy. Captain Hartley has led from the front but even he can’t stem the relentless march of time and the centre point of England’s scrum rests on George’s square head and shoulders.
He may look like the cute one from a second division boy band but don’t be fooled – he’s iron plated. When he broke the leg that took him out of this Six Nations instead of a stretcher he hobbled and instead of hospital he sat on the edge of the pitch for the games remainder. He’ll occupy a role not unlike Matt Giteau, making him an ideal second receiver at 12 and forcing Jones hand to finally pick between Ford and Farrell.