England has announced their training squad for the upcoming autumn internationals. It is less than a year out from the World Cup and players are running out of time to show Eddie Jones that they deserve to be in the squad going to France. There are six potential debutants for England’s men’s team this Autumn.
Here Last Word on Rugby looks at who the potential uncapped players are, and where they might fit in.
Potential Debutants for England’s men’s team this November
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) October 17, 2022
The lock forward left Harlequins for arch-rivals Saracens over the Summer to learn from one of the best in Maro Itoje. He has been involved in the England training squads before but is yet to play for his country. The 22-year-old was nominated for the Land Rover Discovery of the Season while in his last year at Quins and has continued to be one of the stand-out locks in the English game since joining his new employers.
He has a very different playing style to that of his now clubmate Itoje. While Itoje is seen grabbing the headlines with game-breaking moments, Tizard is more of a classic tighthead lock. He is a big player who is a great scrummaging lock and does a lot of important work in the tight exchanges that allow players like Itoje to thrive. That is not to say that he is a one-dimensional player. He possesses great hands meaning he can attract players to him and then tip the ball on so others can make use of the space outside him.
Expect Tizard to be competing with the likes of Hill for the number five jersey and to potentially get some game time against Japan. The chances of being a potential England debutant are quite high for Tizard given his consistency over the past year.
Coles is capable of playing as a blindside flanker or in the second row, much like his clubmate Courtney Lawes. England will likely view him more as a back-row player as they look to create depth behind Lawes with a similar style of player. However, the ability to play multiple positions may work in his favour when numbers need to be cut for the World Cup squad. With Lawes still yet to play since sustaining a concussion, Coles will want to lay down a marker in training that he is capable of fulfilling that role.
Coles has shown this season he is very comfortable with Northampton’s style of play. His basics in the lineout are exceptional, but it is in the loose where Coles shines. He is a handful with the ball in hand and can often be seen looking for the offload once he has broken the tackle or running a support line to finish off a line break. This vision is incredibly important to helping his side finish off the chances they create and get points on the board for all their effort. England’s attack is still looking in need of some work and the addition of Coles could help spark an improvement.
Coles’ chances of moving from potential England debutant to England international are slim given he is competing for positions currently occupied by Itoje and Lawes but the experience will be good for his long-term development.
Speaking of adding to England’s attacking game, Murley is currently the joint top try scorer in the Gallagher Premiership alongside Max Malins. His finish against Northampton was unbelievably good and not the only one of that standard. He is blessed with great pace and acceleration which has seen him run in multiple tries from a long way out so already this season. Jones will be looking for Murley to show him that he has the full skill set of an international winger to go alongside his x-factor in the attack. England has shown they have a lot of depth on the wing in recent months with Freeman and Arundell impressing on the international stage over the summer to add to more experienced options such as Nowell and May.
We all agree with Head Coach Tabai Matson; @cadan_murley's finish is class 🙌
— Harlequins 🃏 (@Harlequins) October 6, 2022
Murley’s point of difference though is his ability to make metres in heavy traffic. Jones will want to see him come in off his wing in a similar fashion to Jack Nowell. Having beaten more defenders this season than everyone in the squad except Arundell and Billy Vunipola, Murley will be looking to show these evasion skills in front of Jones when it matters most to his England prospects. The winger will likely struggle for game time this Autumn but could be seen in the Japan game. He will also have a good chance to press his case heading into the Six Nations.
Ribbans is another Northampton lock pushing for selection. The South African is an imposing player whom Jones will want to see push Hill for the number five shirt. He was in the England squad two years ago but has since struggled with injury. Now though he has won back his spot for Northampton and is once again looking for international honours with England. He won the Northampton Saints players’ and supporters’ player of the season in the 2020/21 season and has revived those performance levels after an interrupted 2021/22 season.
His work rate is through the roof and every action he has in a game is done with immense physicality. To make space for wingers you need to make dents in the close exchanges and generate quick balls. Ribbans is the type of player who can be relied on to make those hard carries and clear out rucks tirelessly.
McGuigan had to sit and watch last season as clubmate Jamie Blamire made his England debut. This is despite often being viewed as the second choice to McGuigan. Now though after an excellent start to the season on a personal level, despite Newcastle’s struggles, McGuigan gets his chance. His try-scoring exploits have now proved impossible to ignore. After finishing last season second on the leaderboard, he has already crossed the line four times this season.
These stats for a hooker should take nothing away from the Newcastle hooker’s excellent skills of a traditional number two. He is strong in the scrum and his lineout throwing is pinpoint and accurate. Moreover, he is unafraid of putting in big shots in defence. With injuries ruling Jamie George and Jack Walker out, the number 16 shirt is up for the taking.
Other men; like Jack Singleton will have their own aspirations but, fans are likely to see McGuigan in England’s men’s team shirt at some point this Autumn.
Note: McGuigan is arguably in the strongest position of England’s potential debutants to take to the field this Autumn.
The final uncapped player in the squad is the Georgian-born prop playing for Gloucester. He has put in several thunderous performances this season. Against Saracens, where despite coming off the bench and being on the losing side, he was one of the most influential players in the match. Rapava-Ruskin has always had a strong carrying game and has been good over the ball. However, in recent months, he has added a deadly scrummaging to his wide skillset.
Another couple of tries bagged and a call-up into the England squad. 🙌
Not a bad few days for Val Rapava-Ruskin! 👏 pic.twitter.com/kNJRWIq5l1
— Gloucester Rugby (@gloucesterrugby) October 17, 2022
With four looseheads included in this squad, competition will be fierce. Do not be surprised though if Rapava-Ruskin forces his way onto the bench for England in the next few weeks. There are also only two tighthead props in the squad. So with teams often liking to take a prop who is capable of playing both sides of the scrum, could the Georgian native play on the other side of the scrum to what he is used to for his adopted nation?
Potential debutants and roles in England’s men’s team 2022
There are lots of players who are injured and will come back into contention in later months. How can these potential debutants stake their claim for future involvement? Which players do you think will have the biggest impact on England this Autumn?
When this version of England’s men’s team leads into their Autumn campaign, many focus points are on the mind of the head coach. Jones saying, “I want to know more about the opposition than they know about us and we want to keep developing our game which is about playing like England. We’ve got a different squad from Australia. We’ve got a new group of players so we’ve got to work out what their strengths are and how they want to play and work out how to beat the four teams at the World Cup.
Additionally, with the World Cup getting closer, are any of these potential future names ‘international stars’ in the making? In three weeks’ time, the evidence will show who can meet the standards England’s stakeholders are seeking.
England fixture list:
v Argentina – Sunday, November 6
v Japan – Saturday, November 12
v New Zealand – Sat, November 19
v South Africa – Sat, November 26
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images