Maggie Alphonsi's player-by-player verdict on England squad for autumn internationals

·10 min read
Maggie Alphonsi's player-by-player verdict on England squad for autumn internationals
Maggie Alphonsi's player-by-player verdict on England squad for autumn internationals

Eddie Jones has named a much-changed England squad for the autumn internationals against Tonga, Australia and South Africa. Telegraph Sport columnist Maggie Alphonsi gives her player-by-player verdict on the 34 men selected.

Forwards

Jamie Blamire
Hooker, Newcastle
Age 23
Caps 2

With Luke Cowan-Dickie having picked up an injury and Jamie George omitted, this is a real opportunity for Blamire. He took his opportunities with England over the summer very well.

Callum Chick
No 8, Newcastle
Age 24
Caps 2

What I like about Chick is that he can play across the back row. The guy is exceptionally quick and in terms of England’s back row and where they want to take it forward. He is not dissimilar to Alex Dombrandt in terms of style of play – he has real physicality but also likes to play wide.

Luke Cowan-Dickie
Hooker, Exeter
Age 28
Caps 31

He had a brilliant summer on the Lions tour; he almost made the No2 shirt his own. His autumn will depend on how he recovers from the ankle injury he picked up last weekend against Wasps.

Tom Curry
Flanker/No 8, Sale
Age 23
Caps 33

Curry was good on the Lions tour but we did not get to see him at his very best. I think when he is in that white England jersey he is brilliant. If he is potentially in that partnership with Underhill, those two are unstoppable.

Trevor Davison
Prop, Newcastle
Age 29
Caps 1

At 29, he is a bit of a late bloomer. He is getting a shot after some really hard-working performances for Newcastle. A player who will add depth to the front row. Having represented England counties, he has shown how the system works.

Nic Dolly
Hooker, Leicester
Age 22
Caps 0

The Leicester hooker seems to be a try-scoring machine based on what I have seen so far. The guy is a big physical unit; he is very hard to stop from five metres out.

He is almost fearless and maybe that partly comes from being uncapped. Between Jamie George’s omission and Cowan-Dickie’s injury issues, Dolly could be a shining star this autumn if he gets the opportunity to play.

Nic Dolly has been in fine form for Leicester Tigers - CAMERASPORT VIA GETTY IMAGES
Nic Dolly has been in fine form for Leicester Tigers - CAMERASPORT VIA GETTY IMAGES

Alex Dombrandt
No 8, Harlequins
Age 24
Caps 1

The Harlequins man made his England debut last summer and was in good form for his club last season and it has continued into this season. He is a No 8 who offers you everything in that he plays wide, he has good hands and his running lines are what Eddie Jones would like to see from a No 8.

Charlie Ewels
Lock, Bath
Age 26
Caps 23

The Bath captain has had a tough time with his club this season but he is the sort of player who is consistent and can cover the back row as well as the second row mainly. He is ever reliable and offers line out options.

Ellis Genge
Loosehead prop, Leicester
Age 26
Caps 30

Every season Genge gets better and now this season as Leicester captain, he is developing leadership skills that make him almost indispensable. Also what he does on the pitch is very impressive, he is scoring tries, he is probably one of the best carriers there is in terms of props.

Jonny Hill
Lock, Exeter
Age 27
Caps 9

A Lions call-up, I think his partnership with Maro Itoje will be key, as well as how he will work with Courtney Lawes. What Hill offers in the line-out and his support lines makes him a good match-up with Itoje in the second row.

Maro Itoje
Lock/flanker, Saracens
Age 26
Caps 48

It took Itoje just five minutes back in the Premiership to score a try against Bath on Sunday. This guy is a must in any team and would be one of the first names on the team sheet. I thought he was very good on the Lions tour despite not winning the series. He is the line-out king and can also offer back row options.

Courtney Lawes
Lock/flanker, Northampton
Age 32
Caps 87

Another player who was really good in South Africa and he brings a physical presence, which Jones loves. Regardless of size, he will cut any player down. He is instrumental in the line-out and defensively in particular.

Courtney Lawes has been named in a new streamlined senior leadership group for the autumn Test series - PA
Courtney Lawes has been named in a new streamlined senior leadership group for the autumn Test series - PA

Lewis Ludlam
Flanker, Northampton
Age 25
Caps 10

The back row is going to be competitive and Ludlam has been in and out of England selections but he is very consistent and has been excellent for Northampton. He is a young player who always gives you more.

Joe Marler
Loosehead prop, Harlequins
Age 31
Caps 72

After pulling out of the Six Nations squad to spend more time with his family, he has been playing very good rugby for Quins. He brings the experience and his rugby is still at a level where he can put in some very good performances.

George Martin
Lock/flanker, Leicester
Age 20
Caps 1

Martin got his first cap off the bench in the last Six Nations. I think he has been putting in some good performances for Leicester under the guidance of Steve Borthwick who understands the demands of what it takes to get to the top at England. Martin has the perfect mentor. He could push his way into the match day squad.

Sam Simmonds
Back row, Exeter
Age 26
Caps 7

He hasn’t been Eddie’s favourite player, and while he got called up to the Lions he didn’t get much of an opportunity to shine. But I think he has shown since he has returned to the Premiership how he can impact a game with his try scoring and he is quick and very fit. England could really benefit from having a player like him in the back row.

Kyle Sinckler
Tighthead prop, Bristol
Age 28
Caps 44

A player who has changed in terms of becoming a real leader - he is much more disciplined now. I think he has had a new lease of life at Bristol and is playing some really good rugby.

Will Stuart
Tighthead prop, Bath
Age 25
Caps 12

Stuart has always been on the edge of England selection. He is a powerful prop who is really good in the loose. When we talk about England’s front row, that is an area where they need to increase the amount of players who can move around the park. Considering Bath’s rocky start to the season, he is a player who will want to prove what he is capable of.

Sam Underhill
Flanker, Bath
Age 25
Caps 24

Injury has been the flanker’s biggest issue but he is back again now. When he tackles he pulls people apart, he is a man who you need in your team and Jones loves players like him who can stop other players in their tracks.

Backs

Mark Atkinson
Centre, Gloucester
Age 31
Caps 0

Good to see an uncapped player of his maturity in the squad. At 31 years old, he has really come into his own in the later stages of his career, having been in the Barbarians squad against England back in 2019. Having made that initial 45-man squad, it is good to see him get a call up on the back of good form for Gloucester.

Owen Farrell
Centre/fly-half, Saracens
Age 30
Caps 93

The captain receives a lot of negativity from the public but for me he is a confrontational player who brings a bit of edge, which Jones likes and England need.

Tommy Freeman
Full-back, Northampton
Age 20
Caps 0

With Elliot Daly out it is an opportunity for Jones to take a look at a young guy like Freeman, who is seen as a versatile back. I am not quite sure if he will get a chance at playing in any of the three Tests but could be a very interesting outsider to try at full-back.

Tommy Freeman (centre) is an intriguing selection - CAMERASPORT VIA GETTY IMAGES
Tommy Freeman (centre) is an intriguing selection - CAMERASPORT VIA GETTY IMAGES

George Furbank
Full-back/fly-half, Northampton
Age 25
Caps 4

Having made a few appearances in the 2020 Six Nations, Furbank got dropped but he is back playing good rugby for Northampton. He is a lucid player, and with Daly injured he could potentially be an option at full-back.

Max Malins
Full-back/wing, Saracens
Age 24
Caps 8

Malins can play anywhere in the back three but is also a fly-half option. He was man of the match against Bath last weekend; he just cuts beautiful lines and is a very exciting player to watch.

Jonny May
Wing, Gloucester
Age 31
Caps 66

There is nothing more you can say about him other than he has pure gas! There will be good competition in the England back three. I am looking forward to the competition between him and Adam Radwan – the battle for who will be England’s fastest player will be very interesting.

Raffi Quirke
Scrum-half, Sale
Age 20
Caps 0

A lot of people are talking about this 20-year-old. He is quick and exciting. He offers something a bit different but at the same time he is not too dissimilar from Harry Randall who had had a few caps now for England.

Adam Radwan
Wing, Newcastle
Age 23
Caps 1

This guy is electric. He scored a hat-trick on debut against Canada in the summer. Everyone is saying he is the fastest player in the Premiership. I would love to see him play with Jonny May - it could be really exciting.

Harry Randall
Scrum-half, Bristol
Age 23
Caps 2

His partnership with Marcus Smith was really exciting over the summer. I think they worked really well together and I look forward to seeing how that would progress. I think because of that he would have the advantage over other scrum-halves in terms of making the match day squads.

Harry Randall struck up a promising partnership with Marcus Smith - GETTY IMAGES
Harry Randall struck up a promising partnership with Marcus Smith - GETTY IMAGES

Henry Slade
Centre, Exeter
Age 28
Caps 40

Slade is very consistent in that centre partnership but is also a playmaker. He has really come into his own. He creates a lot of opportunities for those around him. He is a very reliable player.

Marcus Smith
Fly-half, Harlequins
Age 22
Caps 2

This guy is a bit of a superstar right now. It seems like there is nothing he can’t do. He had a brilliant last season; he went very well for England and then got to tour with the Lions. It would be crazy if Eddie didn’t have him in the matchday squad and he could now very well be the starting 10. The fans love him.

Freddie Steward
Full-back, Leicester
Age 20
Caps 2

With Daly’s injury, Steward is another player who could benefit. He has been playing some very good rugby for Leicester. I think he is young and exciting, he has a good repertoire of tricks in his toolbox, he is not afraid to drop the ball on his foot.

Manu Tuilagi
Centre, Sale
Age 30
Caps 43

Everyone knows that if he is fit, Tuilagi should be in the squad. The obvious concern is injury but he is back and for Sale and hard to stop. Against the likes of Tonga, you need players with his power.

Anthony Watson
Full-back/wing, Bath
Age 27
Caps 51

Watson is one of England’s best back three players. He would be a full-back option, even though Eddie would never put him in that position. I think he is solid, strong and agile. I am looking forward to seeing his power versus some of the other back three players’ pace.

Ben Youngs
Scrum-half, Leicester
Age 32
Caps 109

Jones leans on him and backs him. There are two exciting young scrum-halves in Quirke and Randall. Youngs gets criticised a lot but he is very good at what he does.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting