With England’s number 9 shirt looking almost nailed down by Danny Care we take a look at some of those who might be in with a shot.
Hodgson faces a tough challenge at Northampton Saints to get a shot at the number 9 shirt, but if his last season at Newcastle Falcons is anything to go by he has all the attributes necessary. His ability to cover the 10 shirt could also give him an outside shot if he can break into the Saints first team.
The young Exeter scrum half is in ahead of teammate Hayden Thomas as he looks like the better long-term option. Although he would be a very long bet for a place in the England squad, with the way he has started this season he could find himself in contention.
The Gloucester scrum half may currently be behind Greig Laidlaw in the pecking order at the moment but has shown he has all the attributes to be a started. He helps speed up the tempo of the game for his side and could make a breakthrough for England this year, especially if Laidlaw suffers with injuries or form.
Cook would have been nowhere near this list just a few months ago, but after a stunning start to the new season for Bath he has put his hand up as a potential outside bet. If he can continue his current fine form then Stuart Lancaster will find it hard to ignore him for the World Cup.
Although Wigglesworth definitely isn’t a long-term option for England, he could still be a useful squad member for during the World Cup. His previous England experience will count in his favour, as will his ability to close out tight games which could be essential during tough World Cup matches.
Simpson is likely only one injury or a few top performances away from the current EPS. With the way Wasps have started the season it looks likely that he will be banging on England’s door in the build up to the World Cup. His pace and quick thinking make him one of the most dangers scrum halves in the Premiership.
Dickson may not be the flashiest scrum half around, but he has shown that he is capable of playing 9 at the very top level and keeping England moving in the right direction. He offers a nice contract to Care’s up-tempo style of play and could be a useful option during tighter games.
Questions marks still remain over Ben Youngs after he has seen a dramatic dip in form over the last 12 months. If he can manage to regain the kind of form he was showing before the 2013 Lions tour however then he could well find himself battling it out with Care for the starting shirt.
Care may not have started the season in the best form, but that shouldn’t detract from just how good he has been for England over the last 12 months. The 9 shirt is his to lose at the moment as he helps keep England on the front foot and always presents a danger around the base of rucks.
Who would you start at 9 for England during the World Cup?