In the eighth part of our series looking at England’s options after their 2015 World Cup debacle, we take a look at the position of lock. Below we look at the options both in the short-term (2016 Six Nations) and longer term (2019 Rugby World Cup);
There’s no doubting that Launchbury looks set to become a permanent feature in the England second row, and is even being touted as a future captain. He is one of the most well-rounded players in the team and is someone that the side can be built around.
Lawes form has been a little hit and miss over the last 12 months or so, but there’s no doubting that when fully firing he is a top class lock. He has the potential to be a true second row enforcer, whilst also having the ability to run the line out.
Kruis offers a little more bulk in the second row than either Lawes or Launchbury, and is really starting to develop his wider game. He has got off to a great start this season with Saracens and looks set to push hard for a place in the Six Nations squad for next year.
There’s no doubting that Parling is England’s best line out operator and for that reason could still play an important role for the team. That being said, his age is likely to count against him, whilst many believe that other younger options offer more outside of the set piece.
Slater was very close to the England set-up before injuries hampered his season in the run up to the World Cup. At 27 he still has enough time on his side to break into the squad and make it to the World Cup, however you can’t help but feel it needs to happen sooner rather than later.
Itoje is sure to break into the England set-up sooner rather than later, the question now is whether it will be at lock of flanker. The Saracens man’s flexibility will make him a vital squad player, we now just need to establish where his best position is.
Barrow had a superb season last time around for Newcastle which prompted a move to Leicester over the summer. He can cover both lock and blindside and if given enough game time could well find himself in contention for a place in the squad in 2019.
The Sale Sharks forward can play either lock of number 8 which makes him an ideal squad member, whilst his continuing good form is likely to see him become a contender sooner rather than later. He’s an excellent line out jumper who also offers plenty ball in hand.
The Wasps man is still struggling to make the starting XV on a regular basis, however if he can break into the team he could be an asset to England. He is a well rounded second row who can carry well whilst also offers a threat at the line out.
The Quins man is some way down the pecking order at present, however if he can establish himself as a regular in his sides second row, he could find himself pushing for a place in the England squad. Still has areas of his game to work on improving however.
At this stage Lawes and Launchbury looks like the most viable partnership with one of the younger guys like Itoje or Beaumont providing support depending on which position they are selected in, whilst Kruis would offer something a little different.