So the 6 Nations squad has been announced and Lord Edward Aussie-Jones has certainly added some youthful exhuberance to the squad that were so disappointing during the world cup.
Some big omissions from the group include Brad Barritt, Luther Burrell, Tom Youngs, Richard Wigglesworth, Tom Wood and Ben Morgan as well as a few injury replacements
Heres the squad in full....with my obligatory two cents added. Obviously
England Senior squad for RBS 6 Nations and Elite Player Squad:
Josh Beaumont (Sale Sharks) - Superb form for the last 2 seasons, can cover lock and number 8, will push Billy V hard for the 8 jersey!
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers) - Glimpses of good form for the Tigers, if he can overcome last seasons dip in form will be a starting player.
Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs) - Part of a very good Chiefs pack, solid and dependable, will do well to bypass Hartley and George for the starting spot
Jack Clifford (Harlequins) - Versatile, can play across the back row, in great form, perfect player to come off the bench? Maybe, but he'll have his eyes on a starting berth
Jamie George (Saracens) - Very good hooker, mobile, quick, accurate, if Hartley is made captain as predicted, he should be on the bench, if not, he may well start!
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints) - Discipline issues aside, Dylan is a superb player, we missed him in the World Cup. Could he be skipper?
James Haskell (Wasps) - Good form for Wasps, but seldom does he carry that form over to England. Lucky to be there in my eyes.
Paul Hill (Northampton Saints) - My pick in a previous blog for the 2019 squad, immense prospect. Great to see him there!
Maro Itoje (Saracens) - Future skipper. Unlucky to miss RWC selection, if he gets his shot in the 6 Nations, he'll shine.
George Kruis (Saracens) - Another in great club form, well known to the coaching set up, outside bet for captain?
Matt Kvesic (Gloucester Rugby) *injury replacement for Dave Ewers (Exeter Chiefs) - Ewers is unlucky to miss out with injury, but Kvesic has been on fire this season, and for me is the countries form 7. Outshone positional rivals Robshaw and Clifford in Big Game 8
Joe Launchbury (Wasps) - Another player with potential to burn, albeit in a position with some top drawer rivals. Always dependable for club and country.
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints) - The big bruiser is often the enforcer for the team, but his all round game gives so much more.
Joe Marler (Harlequins) - Questions were posed over his scrummaging in the World Cup, but I'm a big fan of Joe's all round play, so I'm happy he's there!
Matt Mullan (Wasps) - Another prop who's loose play is capped with phenomenal speed. Deserves another crack at the England jersey
Chris Robshaw (Harlequins) - Reinventing himself in the 6 jersey this season, without the pressure and expectation of the captains armband, can he re-establish himself an international?
Henry Thomas (Bath Rugby) *injury replacement for Kieran Brookes (Northampton Saints) - Brookes would start in my squad if he was fit, Thomas would certainly not. Thomas may well be a tackle bag holder more than a starter.
Billy Vunipola (Saracens) - Seems to have won his battle with Morgan for the 8 shirt, but new challengers have emerged and Billy V will need to up his game once again. And that's a great thing for England.
Mako Vunipola (Saracens) - Good option for the bench, for me though, his game has declined over the last few years, he's still a very good player, but in my eyes, he's not a starting player.
Chris Ashton (Saracens) - FINALLY. Been in my last 2 Premiership teams of the season. Should be a starter, scoring for fun at times in the league. Redemption time for Ashton!
Mike Brown (Harlequins) - I'm not arguing that he's the best 15 we have. I just wish he'd pass the ball more often!!!
Danny Care (Harlequins) - Seemed out of favour with the old management, but form has kept consistent and it's great to see him back!
Elliot Daly (Wasps) - HAD to be included. Howitzer of a boot, fast, great passing range, with Tuilagi not selected, Daly HAS to be involved. Doesn't he?
Ollie Devoto (Bath Rugby) *injury replacement for Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers) - I'm a big fan of Devoto, glad he got the call over Eastmond, as I think he's a far better all round player. Can also cover multiple positions.
Owen Farrell (Saracens) - Cipriani missed out on the squad, and the usual suspects get the nod, it'll be another Farrell/Ford shootout. Who's side am I on? Wait and see....
George Ford (Bath Rugby) - See above
Alex Goode (Saracens) - Great form for Saracens, solid and dependable. No issues with his selection from me!
Sam Hill (Exeter Chiefs) *injury replacement for Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs) - I like Sam Hill. The only out and out 12 in the squad, surely he'll see some gametime? Hill is like a combination of the previous incumbents of the 12 shirt, and with Slade out, will get a great chance to lay a marker down.
Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby) - Fantastic in the last 6 Nations, disappointing (and injured) at the World Cup. Make or break time for JJ.
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs) - Regular readers will know that Nowell mystifies me. Gets praise for the most pedestrian of games and is frequently raved about, but I'm not a fan. Will probably start and score a couple of short range trot ins that will be hyped as wonder tries.....
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby) - Has grown into the England shirt and must now be a first choice player. Eddie Jones is overseeing the attacking play himself, and will surely view Watson (and his superb footwork) as a frontline threat!
Marland Yarde (Harlequins) - Yarde is another that has confused me. May (yes he's injured, but with no replacement named, take it as May has been dropped!) Wade, Rokoduguni all offer more for me, but Jones has his gameplan in mind and has picked accordingly.
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers) - Had a resurgence last season, and it'll be interesting to see who wins the Youngs vs Care battle!
So..... My 23 as picked from the squad.... How close will I get?
15 - Mike Brown
14 - Anthony Watson
13 - Jonathan Joseph
12 - Sam Hill
11 - Chris Ashton
10 - Owen Farrell
9 - Danny Care
8 - Billy Vunipola
7 - Matt Kvesic
6 - Maro Itoje
5 - Courtney Lawes
4 - George Kruis (captain)
3 - Paul Hill
2 - Dylan Hartley
1 - Matt Mullan
16 - Jamie George
17 - Dan Cole
18 - Joe Marler
19 - Joe Launchbury
20 - Chris Robshaw
21 - Ben Youngs
22 - George Ford
23 - Elliot Daly
I'd go for George Kruis. A guy that gives 100%, keeps his nose clean and is used to being part of a winning squad.
Lots of youth, a smattering experience, some versatile players, uneal options throughout the named squad plus some exceptional options to come in from injury or non selection and a blank canvas for the next chapter of the England adventure. Exciting times!