When the announcement for the 2018 England Rugby Tour to South Africa next summer was made, it was a significant step. A true test; to play the Springboks in a three-Test series for the first time since 2012. It is also a pivotal point on the road to 2019.
Recently named World Rugby Coach of the Year, Eddie Jones, has said that his squad for the 2019 World Cup is 80% full. So is likely he will be trying to fill up the other 20% as soon as possible, and this tour could be the perfect place to find the rest of his squad.
Here are five potential ‘bolters’ who aren’t currently involved in the national set up, but could be on the plane to South Africa next summer.
Five Bolters for England Rugby Tour to South Africa
1. Jack Willis
Jack Willis has had a breakthrough year at Wasps, making a handful of appearances from the bench and impressing many people with his industrious displays. The flanker also has been a terror at the breakdown, making a number of crucial turnovers for his side, he surely must be on Eddie Jones’s radar.
2. Jack Singleton
The 21-year-old hooker has been in outstanding form for Worcester this season, playing an instrumental part in their two impressive wins vs Leicester and Northampton; even scoring a try along the way.
Tom Dunn seems to be the third choice hooker at the moment, but if Singleton continues to perform at this standard he will push him all the way for that third hooker shirt.
3. Nick Schonert
The South African born tighthead was selected for England’s tour to Argentina last year, before having to pull out through injury. He has been part of an impressive Worcester pack this season and has grown into one of the premium scrummagers in the league.
Only Harry Williams and Dan Cole were selected for the Autumn Internationals, and with Kyle Sinckler having some discipline problems this season, Schonert has every chance to be on that plane in June.
4. Willi Heinz
The Gloucester scrum-half was included in a training squad earlier this year, and could well be in the mix to make the squad again. He has put in some influential displays at the heart of Johann Ackermann’s revolution at Kingsholm.
Although Eddie Jones rarely picks three number nines for his England squads, he will need to on this three game tour and Heinz is definitely a contender.
5. Brad Shields
The Hurricanes captain recently announced he would move to Wasps after the 2018 Super Rugby season. Last Word on Rugby can imagine Eddie Jones would have loved to hear that news.
If not for a seat on the plane to South Africa, there are still places up for grabs in the back row and Shields would bring more of an x-factor to the back row. Jones might also give a wry smile, of the fact that the All Blacks were ‘reportedly fuming’ at his decision to leave NZ rugby.
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) November 21, 2017
That alone shows how good of a player he is, once he settles in the English rugby scene in 2018.
The strength in depth of this English Rugby squad is better than most teams in the world, and two years out from a 2019 Rugby World Cup, Eddie Jones is looking to finalize his squad as soon as he can.
Over the next few months, potential bolters have an opportunity to be selected for the 2018 England Rugby Tour to South Africa. For these players to prove they are worth a bet in June, and could secure a seat on that plane to Japan, in 2019.
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